Oh the joys of not being the only woman in your partners life ( of course my voice is laced with sarcasm..) Hmm ladies this is an interesting one and for now I’m just telling my type of story, for each of you it may be different in anything from positive to negative degrees. Firstly I think we have all established that whilst it’s not ideal it is a reality when there are children involved, or for some of you it may be that you are the single mum and your ex husband has a new girlfriend. Before we all start throwing daggers at each other I think we all need to remind one another that we are all on the same side and in the end we are adults and yes the children must be taken into consideration because they are just that…children. Whichever side you are on it is important to be able to understand each woman’s perspective. I myself being the “new addition” will tell you how it feels from my side and of course I’d love to hear how it is from the mother’s side.
For someone who is 10 years younger than my partner’s ex I feel a stigma already starting to form, I’m a model, I’m smart and I’m young ( oh god she hates me already!) But I have never been so intimidated by one type of woman in my life, than the mother of my love’s child. And that is exactly why I was intimidated, not because I was jealous or insecure, but because she had already given him what I could never give him… his first child. As a friend of many mothers, it has been confirmed that the bond between parents and their first child is quite strong. So here I was, in love with the man of my dreams but contending with the fact that a part of my life would never be able to follow the traditional path. It seemed that our roles had become to label themselves: “the mother of his children!!!!” ( pause for dramatic music ) and me “ the OTHER woman” ( just call me Scarlet why don’t you?!” ).. But that was exactly what I had begun to realise was not allowed to happen, I was not “the other woman” I was his new partner, not an affair , in essence I was a woman whom he was in love and as far as I was concerned how was that no didn’t to what his ex was a few years ago. I did not choose to fall in love with him to make her life miserable or to steal him away from his child, we fell in love through an organic means and therefore whatever our circumstances, we chose to rise above that.
Here is where it gets interesting, when you start to have a serious relationship with your partner whom has children to a previous relationship there are boundaries, roles and certain phrases that need to be discussed.
KEEP IT PLUTONIC
For starters it’s important to not have any bitterness towards his ex, it’s not a matter of personal opinion, whether you like her or not is irrelevant, she is going to be in his life as long as the children are. It doesn’t mean you have to be best friends, or go out of your way for her, but rather a plutonic respectful relationship is what is best. This means that you have your space , she has hers and not too much is ever said , at the end of the day it is up to your husband to address the situation and if he is a decent man he will respect you and your role as his new leading lady. Of course things can (and often do) get a little messy, children are sometimes used as a tool to gain what they want and this is not a good thing. In instances like this you need to be even more “business like” with the mother and loving towards the children. As they say, if you never give her a reason to say anything bad about you, she doesn’t have a leg to stand on. You don’t need or want unnecessary conflict, trust me you’ll have enough to deal with anyway.
Building trust with the children and ex will always take time, it has to start slow and not from a point of self gain. It means respecting what the mother says, how she chooses to raise her children etc, for surely you would want the same if the situation was reversed? Choosing to be a “friend” to the child first before a step mum is a gentle way to both the child, mother and even your partner. This isn’t a game of vengeance or a race; it involves an innocent child of a broken family who needs the best start in life. Depending on the age of the child and how many there are usually determines their reaction to you, for me his daughter was only 3 when she first met me, so it was an age where she adapted to new people in her life a lot more easily. In some situations I have heard of teenagers being quite manipulative, playing each parent and their partners off against each other and of siblings ganging up against the new partner and being quite malicious. In situations like this you need to be very open and honest with your partner and if he is not willing to believe that his children are anything than angels ( ha!) then you need to decide what your limits are and whether you are going to continue in this relationship.
For me I found that the biggest issue was establishing boundaries between my partner and his ex. Not just financial and physical but more social and emotional boundaries. It must be difficult to go from an 8 year “marriage with kids” relationship filled with familiarity with this woman, to a new relationship with me. And that is what needed to be addressed, his familiarity to his ex, it was important to establish her new role which was: mother of his children and ex partner. It was not allowed to be: friend, emotional support; for that was now my role. I’m not saying for a second that I wanted them to hate each other, for their mutual feelings of getting along was important for the sake of the child and even for us. What i was establishing and had to fight for, was that she needed to know that she was no longer allowed to be familiar with him in the way that a partner is ie: no more socialising outside visiting time with kids, no more personal and emotional baggage offloads, no more casual phone calls “just to see how his day was”.. You may think this is harsh but in my opinion it is entirely necessary, for I am not an affair and neither is she, we both have roles and each one needs to be respected for everyone’s sake. In all honesty it hasn’t been easy for anyone involved and I cannot stress how important it is to just be patient but firm. Every woman has a different situation, mine has not been easy but I know women whom have had it far worse than me with psychotic exes and lengthy court battles. Your partner needs to see that you are able to handle his ex maturely and that you are able to understand his relationship with her but that he must also understand your relationship with him. Men needed to be gently reminded that women are sometimes manipulative (bless us) and need to be pulled into line.