(In December of 2010, Jennifer Newcomb Marine was joined by stepmom and relationship/stepfamily coach Jenna Korf on the blog and in the Members Community. Jenna has been featured on CNN.com as a stepfamily expert and is a contributing writer at StepMom Magazine. She also runs a step-parent support group in Northern California. We’re thrilled to have the benefit of her expertise — and her wicked sense of humor!)
Jenna and Jennifer have just completed writing their new book “Skirts At War: Creating Peace Amidst Divorced Mom and Stepmom Conflict.” If No One’s The Bitch is a book about divorced moms and stepmoms working through their conflict, Skirts At War is about finding peace within yourself, even if the other woman behaves like a raging lunatic or wants nothing to do with you. The book has been submitted to the Hay House Insights Non-Fiction Publishing Contest and the winner will be announced on June 1, 2013. Keep your fingers crossed for us!
For a sneak peak at Skirts At War, click here!
How was No One’s the Bitch created?
Family relationships after divorce need a revolution.
Divorce is extremely common in the United States, and remarriage almost equally so. And yet we cling to the idea that stepparents or the new girlfriend is an anomaly, an intrusion.
We’re not supposed to get along with the stepparents of our children. In fact, the common thinking is that we’re supposed to hate them.
Meanwhile, the children suffer terribly from the conflicting house rules, spiteful interactions between parents and their new spouses, and hostile households.
We know. We lived through it ourselves. We realized that something needed to change — selfishly, for ourselves, but most importantly, for the children. Would we want them to replicate our lives of conflict?
(Jennifer’s on the left, Carol’s on the right)
For the first two years of my ex-husband David’s remarriage, I avoided his new wife. It felt weird and disorienting being around her and I had a difficult time imagining a total stranger being so involved with my kids.
Our daughters were often caught in a web of hostility between the two households. David and I still hadn’t resolved many of the issues that initially led to our divorce, and our relationship was by no means easy. Carol and I avoided one another like the plague.
We limped along for a few years, communicating through my ex-husband as much as possible. I remember idly wondering how long this could go on, these awkward experiences without eye contact or even so much as a hello, during drop-offs and pick-ups.
We finally came to a turning point one day when I stepped into David and Carol’s living room and saw an enormous painting she’d done of my youngest daughter. My daughter looked so happy. The painting had been done with such love. Carol had really captured something about her spirit that I thought only I, or her dad, was privy to.
I had a choice here. I could go on “claiming” the world of the children as my maternal right, my territory, or I could make room for someone else who clearly loved her too.
When this beautiful child grew up, got married, and had children of her own, how was she going to create stable relationships if the only conflict resolution she’d seen was the very poor example we’d been showing her and her sister for the last two years?
All the petty hatred I’d been nursing suddenly seemed like the worst possible way to keep going, even if it was traditional. Even if it was what I was supposed to feel toward Carol, it still felt wrong.
That’s when the revolution started. That was the beginning of change.
In baby steps, Carol and I threw out the old rulebook for how ex-wives and stepmoms have to get along. We decided that no one was going to be the bitch. We decided we could create a healthy, functional extended family that included good parenting, happy kids, strong marriages, and adults who behaved – well – like adults, instead of squabbling, sulking, petty children.
It wasn’t easy. We’ve had disagreements over money, over how to discipline the kids, over bad communication. But we didn’t give up.
We made compromises and resolved problems. We repaired the damaged relationships and built new, more solid ones in the place of the wreckage. We created common rules between households so the children had a more stable environment. We share holiday meals and we even have a joint bank account for common expenses.
Oh, yeah. And the stepmom and the ex who were supposed to hate each other?
Now we’re close, supportive, caring friends.
It’s a heck of a lot better than being a bitch.
Jennifer Newcomb Marine is a writer, coach and public speaker. In a previous life, she presented workshops on parenting and creativity and taught video production classes to children and teens. She’s an avid traveler, rock climber, and rower.
Carol Marine is a successful fine artist whose work has been featured in national and local publications, as well as a variety of galleries. Her A Painting a Day website has an avid following. She’s a passionate photographer and outdoor enthusiast.
Carol is stepmom to Jennifer and David’s two lovely teenage daughters, and Jennifer is honorary aunt to Carol and David’s young son.
We’ve been featured on The Dr. Phil Show, The Washington Post, Canada’s Globe and Mail, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and numerous radio shows, online reviews and interviews.
For interviews, please contact Jennifer at 512-522-8541 or send us an email below: