Stepmoms: Are We Too Harsh on the Ex?

Haven’t we all said it or thought it.  Here is the rant.

That ex is insane! I mean it. Really insane. How can a mother treat her children that way? That ex is so mean to my partner.  She is completely unreasonable.  What the hell, Bitch?

The question is whether or not we are being fair.  Let’s think about a few factors that may play into our perceptions.

1.    Our Initial Perceptions
The foundation of our perception of the ex has been built by what we have been told by our partners.  Possibly, the foundation includes other stories provided by friends and acquaintances.  Either way, our sources are not the best.  Each person has their own prejudices and slants to the story.  Many of our sources have good reason to want us to agree with them.  Our friends and our partners may feel that our support is important to our relationship with them.  Also, it just may be fun to gossip.  Think about the friends that you like to talk to.  Don’t you often agree?  Isn’t it fun to agree?  In fact, agreement is a form of bonding with our friends and our partners.  In our heads, we have always been taught that people who disagree with us are on enemy territory.  The question that we need to ask ourselves is:  Do we want to agree with our partners’ perceptions in an effort to bring us closer and make us look like a ‘better’ partner?
2.   That Inbred Woman vs Woman Conflict
How many times in our lives have we been taught and shown how women fight over a man (partner)?  That story line is inbred in movies, TV shows and our lives.  It is repeated over and over again because it brings a comfort to us.  It is a story that we believe. “All women are on the earth to steal another woman’s partner.”   We are more comfortable arguing and finding fault with a woman, than with a male.  If we were honest, do you think that we avoid arguments with our male partner because there is a deep rooted fear of losing them?  The story of being left by a man and being left alone the rest of our lives is another story that has deep roots in our society.

3.   Everyone is On Edge: The Anxiety Factor
Do you feel anxious when it is time to spend time with the stepfamily members? Children? Exes? Extended family of exes?  How do you think those people feel when they are in our presence?
I promise that everyone’s answer is the same:  ANXIOUS
Our bodies and brains go right into flight or fight mode and all rational thinking goes out the window. The next thing you see and hear is just plain ridiculousness.  Right?  The bottom line is that our survival instincts and deep insecurities have kicked in.  Can’t we all relate?

Can we be compassionate enough to give the ex and ourselves a pass?  Can we be less judgmental and harsh?  None of us want to be mean or cause our children any pain.  We are all imperfect.  Maybe we all have more in common than we want to admit.  Take a deep breath, a long walk and let it all slide down our backs.

Amen

4 Responses to Stepmoms: Are We Too Harsh on the Ex?

  1. I’m just now reading this, so I know my comment is very late! In some instances, yes, I agree. It’s like everyone expects the ex-wife and the stepmom to hate each other, and I question why that is. Sadly, in cases like mine, the ex-wife has made serious false allegations, has lied, has attacked me, and done many inexcusable things that the kids were forced to witness. I wish I was being too hard on the ex. Unfortunately, she has earned her reputation.

  2. I don’t agree with this at all. I went in expecting to be fine with her, why wouldn’t I be? But the constant disregard for showing up on time for pickup/dropoffs (like, okay, we get it, your’e not eager to have your kid back, can you make it less obvious to the kid, please?) The sneers, the vicious comments. The kids coming back sharing how much mom disliked me. Yeah, that got to me.

  3. While I’m sure there are many blended families out there where the women are being too critical of the ex, it’s starting to become apparent to me that this isn’t very rarely the case. I’m meeting more and more women who have just as horrible of an experience with the other mother as I have had. I had seriously thought it was just me! I came into this relationship well aware that there are 2 sides to every story, and I made a huge effort to give mom a chance to prove herself. She very quickly showed me that everything my now husband and his ex-roommate/best friend had said about her was more than accurate. They weren’t exaggerating anything, she’s that horrible! Perhaps birthmothers feel like they have an inherent right to talk smack about the new woman in their child’s life? I really don’t understand. But you are right about one thing, we do need to enter into things with an open mind about the birth mother. Let her prove whether or not what is said about her is right or wrong. Making assumptions can easily be a mistake, but keeping our guard up can prevent us from empowering an angry momma’s false sense of superiority. Just my two cents! 😉

  4. I’m with you! I’ve been through the false police reports (the cop had her pegged as untruthful), passive aggressive step kids attitude (they are young adults), etc. and blame their father for creating boundaries with their mother. They overlook that their mother has screamed at their father and me in public, hit him and thrown things at him because he refused to take responsibility for her very public lesbian affair. He was afraid to call police because he feared her twisting it around and him being the one arrested!
    No matter she moved in a new boyfriend shortly after she gave my husband the boot and that my husband was NICE to him for the kids sake. No matter that I didn’t know any of them until well after the divorce was final. Our counselor said mother would get better when she “had someone” and was shocked when we said that actually she had several “someones” first!
    My ex is with someone who is nice to my kid, which is all one can ask.

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