Friends with the Ex

Do you really need to be friends with your partner’s ex? What’s the secret behind all these people getting along famously with the exes? Is this key in being a successful step mom?

This is a subject I’ve thought a lot about and have heard others takes on it as well. Co-parenting is not an easy job. There are so many factors and moving parts, different people and different opinions. More times than not, you’re not agreeing and if you’re not careful it can become a full out war, and no one benefits from that.

No little girl sits around and dreams one day about becoming a Step Mom. They don’t fantasize about getting divorced and then finally meeting the right man and his kids and his ex wife. No, that’s just not what a perfect fairy tale life looks like to anyone. This does become reality for quite a few of us though.

So, how do we navigate this life that is so very different from our dreams? We are with this man because he is without a shadow of a doubt the one we’re meant to love and with that comes these other people that were all a part of his decisions from a past life. Just like my daughter and my ex husband, it’s all a part of the package deal.

You have two options, you either harbor bitterness and resentment that this package that is now a part of your life that existed before you and decide to be miserable and lose sight of what you’re really doing here. That option sounds exhausting and plain terrible really. Option two, you realize that you’re in the exact spot you’re meant to be in. You were called to be his wife and to be these great kids step mom. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, but you choose to see the good in it and focus on that, knowing that when the bad stuff happens you’ll get through it, just like you always do.

Where does that leave things in terms of the ex-wife? Do you need to be friends? I would say absolutely not! You can be great co-parents without going for coffee on the regular or texting each other each day. Co-parenting is simply having a working relationship for the benefit and well being of the children involved. It’s not knowing the intimate details of each others lives. It’s not looking for common ground between the two of you outside of these kids that you’re now raising together.

When I first moved in with Mark, the news was not taken all that well. The ex had wished for Mark to ask her first and we didn’t think it necessary to ask permission. After she warmed up to the idea she had wanted to go for coffee with me, just me, to get to know me better. Mark and I had only been together for a year at that point and going for coffee with her was not something I was comfortable doing.

Every exchange between us has been somewhat awkward. I’m sure it’s mostly due to the nature of the situation and with time it is getting better. We are two very very different people, which doesn’t really help things to feel natural and comfortable. To be friends with someone the exact opposite of you is pretty much impossible. If we weren’t forced into these roles we most definitely wouldn’t be friends so why should we try to force that just because we’re Bio Mom and Step Mom?

I think there is enough in a blended family situation that doesn’t come naturally that there is no need to force unnecessary interactions and connections. Now, with that being said, if the two of you have things in common or you just hit it off then by all means, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being friends. I just don’t think there is any need to put any extra pressure or expectancies on yourself.

Focus on making your relationship with your partner the best that it can be. This should be your top priority! Yes, before your relationship with the kids even. Your relationship with your partner sets the framework for everything else so make sure it’s amazing! Then focus on building connections and making memories with this wonderful blended family of yours.

Be amicable with the ex. No need to become besties and do not feel threatened or worried about her presence one bit, remember she’s the ex for a reason! This was something I struggled with at the start. Because she lives around the corner from us and as I’ve told you before that her and Mark didn’t cut ties as drastically as most do after a split she was still very much involved back then and somewhat of a constant presence that used to really get on my nerves, if I’m being candid. Things calmed down as time went on and as my presence became more permanent, the involvement became less and less, and more child focused only.

Time seems to help everything in life. It helps you heal, it helps you grow, it helps you look at things differently sometimes, it helps you settle in, it helps boost your comfort level. There are so many things that time does and becoming a confident, incredible Step Mom is just one more thing that with time you learn to achieve! I’m right there with you!

xx Jenn