The other day, during our webinar with the super insightful publisher of Stepmom Magazine, Brenda Ockun, she said something that struck me.
Something that I would like to shout from the mountain tops and that I wish someone had told me 3 years ago:
If you and the other woman can’t have a cordial relationship initially, then it’s best to keep your distance.
And here’s why.
If the other woman does come around one day, it will be a lot easier to transition into having a relationship with her if you don’t have years’ worth of angry emails, accusations and hateful feelings between the two of you.
As soon as I heard Brenda say this, I wished I could have turned back the clock and taken her advice. (Then again, I wouldn’t be here today, but that’s another story.)
It makes complete sense.
Imagine you barely having any contact with the other woman for a few years. Imagine again — you reached out — and she ignored you or insulted you. You decided you would not tolerate being treated like that and you stopped trying.
Depending on whether you’re the mom or the stepmom, you continued to care for your stepkids or kids, nurtured yourself and your love life, and stayed out of whatever drama was occurring with either your ex-husband, or your husband and the other woman. You are happy.
Then one day, something shifts for her.
The stepmom has finally accepted the fact that the mom will always be there. Or the mom is not so angry at her ex-husband anymore, or no longer sees the stepmom as such a threat. Whatever the shift may be, suddenly she’s open to having a discussion with you, in a respectful, more neutral manner.
Can you imagine how much easier it would be to start a relationship from that place, rather than one where your history with her consists of years of accurate and inaccurately perceived offenses and conflict? Resentments that have gone both ways? (Let’s take a moment to dream….)
But sadly, the reason we’re here, is because we DID let it get to that place.
We either already know that routine by heart, or we’re new on the scene and wondering how in the hell to deal with such a difficult situation. After all, when we’ve encountered frustrating people in the past, it was simple. We could easily just draw the line and remove them from our “contacts.”
But in this situation, we’ll go 10 rounds in the mud with this woman trying to make it work. Why? For the kids? How good is it for the kids to see us on edge? Stressed to the bone? Cringing at the sound of the other woman’s name?
And just for the record, if you think you’re ‘hiding’ it from the kids, you’re not.
They can sense the slightest bit of uneasiness in us. And it makes them uneasy too.
I’m convinced there are too many emotions flying high when it comes to the mom and stepmom to point blame at any one place. We’re all dealing with our own crap and doing the best we can.
So why can’t we just call a spade a spade, recognize when someone isn’t ready for us, and leave it at that, at least for a while?
Everyone gets to make their own choices, but it seems to me you would want to give the relationship with the other woman as much opportunity as possible to breed positivity.
Just in case, one day, she comes knocking on your door, ready to talk.
And I ask you, women: for those of us who are getting this message a few years too late, where do we go from here?
How do we begin to create peace and happiness for ourselves first?
© 2011 Jenna Korf All Rights Reserved
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