Can You Stop Making Demands?

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I’m sure divorced moms experience this as well, but this complaint seems to be more prevalent among stepmoms, probably because moms hold more power when it comes to their children. Pick a situation, it could be anything: you think things are going well and then you get a nasty email or text telling you how it’s going […]

Carol and David lost their home – a fundraiser

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Hi everyone, Carol and David Marine of Daily Paintworks and their 6 yr. old son Jacob lost their home in a terrifying fire yesterday out near Bastrop. Their entire subdivision was wiped out (up to 300 homes) and the fire is still spreading – it’s currently 16 miles long, 6 miles wide, has covered over […]

Can You Be Generous Instead of Right?

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about generosity.  And wishing we could be more generous to each other. Websters defines “generous” as : –adjective 1. liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish: a generous patron of the arts; a generous gift. 2. free from meanness or smallness of mind or character; magnanimous. In the context of these relationships, […]

To Divorced Moms and Stepmoms Trying to Make Peace

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There are plenty of divorced mom and stepmom “couples,” trying to make it. Hoping to find a way, at the very least, to be cordial to each other. Maybe even friendly. Peaceful. But this relationship is tricky at best. Just when you think you’ve made some progress, a rude comment or accusation comes out of […]

Jenna takes the “Just meet her!” challenge

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As some of you may already know, Jenna has had a less than ideal relationship with the mother of her stepchildren. These relationships are contentious! But in the spirit of  showing women what’s possible with our Just Meet Her! Challenge this month, she agreed to serve as a guinea pig and issue an invitation. Lo […]

A Challenge: Just Meet Her!

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(Audrey S. [mom] and Gina W. [stepmom] on Mother’s Day with their children.) The problem of the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small. -Mother Theresa Our old grievances can change in an instant when we simply open to the other… and listen. WHAT IF… the divorced mom or stepmom is […]

Beyond counting your blessings

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Let’s say some prayers for our friends and neighbors in Japan. The earthquake and tsunami have once again reminded us just how easily everything can be taken away from any of us in an instant, and now, a terrifying nuclear crisis is unfolding before our very eyes. May they find a way to cool the […]

Moms: you are the crux

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At 46, I’m certainly not one of the greatest rock climbers around, but it’s a obsession I truly love that has changed me on many levels. Just like any sport that attracts die-hard followers, it has its own lingo and insider terminology. “Beta” are the tips and inside scoop to help you successfully complete a […]

The Family-Family Meeting Blow-up

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For a while there, whenever our dual-family family was ironing out some major issues—like which kid was living where, and for how long—we’d have these really intense family meetings. We’d all sit around the kitchen table after dinner, or in the living room, half of us sprawled on the floor… and we’d talk. One of […]

Which boat are you in?

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Many of you come to this site because you’re looking for information that might give you an advantage with your difficult mom/stepmom relationship. You want something extra to help you create a shift. Movement in the right direction. A breakthrough out of nowhere. You’re the only one who knows what it’s like in your particular […]

Success Story: Jesica and Mayra

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What does it look like when the “bio-mom” and stepmom transform the ex-wife/stepmom relationship from hell? Here, we talk to two women who were formerly at war for years, but have suddenly made a breakthrough into a whole, new world of cooperation and promise. Mayra (the mom) and Jesica (the stepmom) from the D.C. area […]

Could you SPEAK to the ex-wives of America?!

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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith were on Oprah today with their children—ALONG WITH HIS EX-WIFE. Fascinating stuff. Will was married to Sheree Zampino for four years (1992-95) and they have a 17 year-old son named Trey. She is now married to former San Diego Chargers player, Pastor Terrell Fletcher. Will and Jada also have […]

Some great information from Ask An Expert Day on StepMom Magazine

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Our Ask An Expert day for StepMom Magazine on Facebook was a great success! If you have a Facebook account, stop by and read the veritable cornucopia of responses (any chance to use the phrase veritable cornucopia) from all the experts that participated. I was in some esteemed company! Some very thorough information there that […]

Are you afraid of being mugged in your own family?

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(New here? Subscribe to our RSS Feed or via email. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Check out excerpts from our book or audio book, and join us on the forum. I’ll be part of a panel for StepMom Magazine’s Ask the Expert Day on Facebook this Wednesday. Drop by and join us!) “…An epidemic […]

What you and I have in common – Part 1

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I’d painted myself into a corner with my writing here recently and felt less and less able to really be myself. What popped me into clarity was reading about how stepmom Becky Lippett of La Belle Mere transformed her previously wretched relationship with the ex-wife, while on the cusp of divorce. Look at what she’s […]

Who’s in YOUR extended family?

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Who’s in your extended family? How often do you see them? Who can you call when you’re in a pinch? Most families are spread far and wide these days, so when you need a parent, sibling, grandmother or grandfather to step in, you’re out of luck. But sometimes, the two linked households after a divorce […]

Tell Oprah!

I'm joining forces with three other good friends* in the hopes of getting more publicity for blended family and "dual-family" issues, just in time for National Stepfamily Day on Sept. 16th. It's estimated that only 20% of American families are now nuclear families. And stepfamilies have an almost 75% rate of divorce! The single-parent family […]

A crystal ball: will your relationship with the ex-wife or stepmom ever improve?

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Here’s an easy way to know if you’re ever going to break through the impasse with the stepmother or bio-mom. Ask yourself: am I stressed? Does my stress level stay at a pretty consistent level? (Sure, you might also be thinking, Well, it’s because of HER that I’m so stressed, but not so fast, Buster….) […]

Raw stepmom/mom honesty and how we got over the hate-hump

I just listened to a really in-depth interview Carol and I did with husband/wife team Phillip and Lisa Mulford over on Communication 360 and I hope you'll give it a listen too. It's raw and emotional and extremely honest. However cringe-y it is to hear your own recorded voice (I always think I sound like […]

Weighing the benefits and costs of getting along with the ex-wife or stepmom

However new or weird the idea of getting along with the stepmother or bio-mom might seem to you, the benefits of doing so are probably annoyingly obvious. Yeah, you've probably heard this all before (do I hear yawning?): less stress better communication smoother flow to life in general brainstorming help with the kids = better […]

New stepmom? Heading off conflict from the get-go…

Feeling your way into potential stepmotherhood? Are you dating a divorced man with kids and things are looking promising? Here are a few ideas for setting a healthy course from the very beginning that will make you thank yourself later. Bond over the good stuff, not the bad. Don’t make a part of your bonding […]

Cold Hard Facts

Welcome to our first guest post! It's by Katherine Shirek Doughtie, one of the co-authors of a "sister" site, the fabulous, but sadly currently dormant The DHX: The Doughtie Houses Exchange — which is also about creating cooperative mom/stepmom relationships. (Katherine is the mom and Jill Doughtie is the stepmom.) The post is actually a […]

Who gets to be your mama?

There's a fascinating discussion taking place over on the Doughtie Houses Exchange (DHX) site about the weird feelings both mother and stepmothers struggle with when the children bond with the stepmother (up to 65 comments so far!). In "Other Women's Children," mom Kathy Shirek Doughtie talks about bonding with her new step-son and whether it's […]

The benefits of moving through transitions as an extended family – Part 1

Why does it matter whether you can create an extended family or not?  Aren’t you just better off keeping most of the power in your own hands?  If you form more of a connection to the other family, won’t that mean they just end up getting away with more shit?  How do you create a […]

Start with hello…

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day and we were discussing the horrible state of affairs between her house and the other house… the one with her ex-husband and his wife. I thought back to the early days between Carol and I, and could easily remember those stomach-churning moments when […]

How to greet the stepmom or ex-wife at the door when the kids swap houses

So the mom or stepmom is here to pick up the kids and it’s usually… awkward. Whether you like this person or not, it’s in the best interests of the children and your stress levels and sanity to make this as positive an experience as possible. With the right perspective and some basic manners, it’s […]

The Fragile Bridge of Trust

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When Indiana Jones threw sand out into the precipice, suddenly revealing an invisible bridge, he found the magical solution to quickly getting across, away from his enemies. But… he still had to actually cross the narrow bridge without falling off. Trust between you and the stepmom or mom is like that same skinny bridge made real […]

Meet Carol, TV teammate extraordinaire

Imagine yourself in one of those adventure races – with orienteering challenges, cross-country running, kayaking, maybe a touch of horseback-riding and cycling. Now imagine how much harder this would be with a partner you can’t stand — the hidden resentments, the one-upmanship, the stubborn lack of cooperation. Then… envision the relief of being spurred on […]

Top Ten Reasons to Not Even Bother Trying to Get Along with the Stepmom or Ex-wife

Too often our coping strategy for the stresses of dealing with an ex-wife or stepmom revolves around… waiting it out. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you’re hoping to eventually gain the upper hand and then — once you do — well, it’ll be a cold day in hell before anyone will ever wrench […]

Two dinners

Carol (the stepmom) and I (the mom) have been going at this ex-wife/stepmother relationship-thing for eight years now.  We recently had two back-to-back dinners that illustrate what a work in progress our partnership can still be.  Sunday was Sophie’s 17th birthday, so off our two families went to a fancy restaurant.  Sophie and Madeleine’s 3 […]

How do you reach out to the stepmother or ex-wife in your life?

It’s a similar refrain on this site by now: try to get along with the ex-wife or stepmother; it’s worth it in the long run; take an honest look at yourself to see how you’re getting in the way — blah, blah, blah. But how do you actually GO ABOUT making this happen? What does […]

Staying Connected with Your KIds When They Live at the Other House

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My youngest daughter is living with her dad and stepmom now and I often miss her. While it makes me happy to know that she’s thriving there (and at almost 13, that’s quite a feat!), I still can’t quite get used to her room being empty most of the time and not having her snooping […]

Babysitting My Ex-Husband’s Son for the Weekend

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This weekend I did something kind
 of weird, only in the sense that it doesn’t happen very often around the world,
 as far as I know…. I babysat David and
 Carol’s 3-year old son, Jacob from Friday morning ’til Sunday afternoon. They went
 out of town for a well-deserved break (alone! first time since he […]

How to Stop Hating the Ex-wife or Stepmom in 7 Simple Steps

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You may have read in Friday’s post about how Carol (the stepmom) and I (the ex-wife) went from cringing in each other’s company to cackling happily over coffee. As promised, here are some (long-ass!) tips for creating such a bridge yourself — and reducing some of the angst and anger in your own ex-wife/stepmom relationship […]

How an Ex-wife and Stepmom Stopped Hating Each Other – Our Story

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It’s all well and good to read here about our wonderful, happy blended family, or about other harmonious ex-wife/stepmother teams at equally brilliant, literate, incisive sites. But what if you really are struggling mightily with the stepmother or ex-wife in your life? What if you honestly, truly just CAN’T STAND the woman! Is “hate” too […]

It’s Not All Perfect Here Either…

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A question someone asked me before about these modern arrangements: how can anyone relate to our stories if everything seems so hunky-dory? If the average reader is struggling with their respective “other woman”, how the hell are they supposed to gain any solace from reading about our touchy-feely, slow-motion moments of perfection? The answer is… they’re […]

Drunk Buddhist clowns?

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In “Peace is Every Step”, Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh suggests periodically checking in with loved ones and asking, “Do I understand you enough?  Or am I making you suffer?  Please tell me so that I can learn to love you properly.  I don’t want to make you suffer, and if I do so […]

Carol and Jen Photo Session

This is us together… Our sunset “golden hour” was more like the gloomy gray-hour, weather-wise.  Here’s what we came up with (Jennifer’s on the left, Carol’s on the right): We had a lot of fun and it was nowhere near as painful as we were expecting it to be….  Thanks to David Marine for being […]

The Bitch Has Left the Building…

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It’s a nasty word, bitch. Fine, if you’re rightfully defending your kids against some injustice in the school system or you need to stubbornly not give up your seat on the bus or you’ve got a hellish journey ahead of you to do the right thing – then – who cares if anyone thinks you’re […]

Our Logo, or… One Mission, Two Cups

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Believe me, the irony of where I was and with whom was not lost on me. The last time I’d been here was about 17 yrs. ago when I was dating my ex-husband. Now, I was here with Carol, his wife, and their almost two year-old son, J. We were on a mission: find a […]