Live, Love, Blend:
Joining Forces With The Ex
It sounds like something underhanded . . . joining forces. As if the only way two women who’ve both been married to the same man could join forces is if they’re plotting his demise. Not so!
Hear this ladies… you can live in harmony with your husband’s ex-wife (or ex-wives as in my case). In fact, occasionally you can even become friends. Stop laughing, it’s true!
My husband was married 3 times before he finally got it right. I call his exes my “ex-wife-in-laws”, so when I refer to an EWL, know that I’m talking about an ex-wife.
Each of these women is unique, and our relationships vary, but there is one thing that I have learned to do that has strengthened my relationship with each of them . . . EMPATHIZE.
Empathy works wonders… on your heart and theirs. Over many years and much counseling I’ve learned the only person you can ever control is you. You cannot make an EWL like you, or be nice to you, or treat the kids or your husband the way you think she should. You can only control your own actions and reactions.
So here’s an assignment… take a moment to think about a situation that frustrates you concerning your EWL. Now step outside yourself. Lay down your own emotions and judgements. Put yourself in her shoes. Doing this little exercise will not always fix the problem, but it will change the way you think about it.
For example, my teen-aged step-son recently chose to move out of his mother’s home and into ours. The EWL agreed to the move and was at first very accommodating. Then seemingly out of nowhere she started sending mean and angry text messages to my husband. It seemed fitting to react in anger until I did the exercise described above. Here’s what I realized: school had just started and for the first time in many years, this mom did not have a child to send off to school. I imagined her scrolling Facebook, seeing post after post of first day of school pictures. How that must have hurt! Now I don’t know if this is exactly what happened, but it allowed me to ask myself how I would feel if one or both of my boys decided to go live with their dad. I would grieve. Perhaps this EWL is in stage 2 – anger. Then perhaps we would be better off giving her time and space to go through each stage. And we can even make this easier by showing kindness and letting her see that her son is still very much her son, even if he doesn’t live with her full time.
Divorce is hard. Remarriage is hard. Let’s not make it harder by harboring anger, hatred, or fear of the ex. We are called to love our enemies. Do that long enough and you may just find you don’t have any enemies at all. C’mon ladies, lets link arms and stomp grapes! (This picture at the top of this piece is me and my favorite EWL at a grape stomping event, and the other friend is her EWL!)
Do you get along with his ex? Have you become friends? I’d love to hear what works for you!