Last month I enjoyed a very special day. My sense of belonging to my husband’s wider family grew to a new high. All thanks to our 3.5 year old granddaughter and her innocent, uncomplicated heart bursting with love.
My husband’s oldest son is married. He lives in New England with his family, which includes his lovely wife, their above mentioned daughter , a son 1.5 and an infant son born in July.
His son was visiting with his two older children, especially to see my husband’s elderly parents.
The children should not suffer unnecessarily.
When it comes to children, my experience of stepfamily life taught me that it’s important to do whatever I can to minimize the complications of divorce and stepfamily life for them.
They did not ask for these circumstances. They don’t like the hassle of double “everythings”.
I’m all in favor of one version that includes everyone.
My husband and I agreed from the very beginning that minimizing complications for our children would always be our highest priority.
Since we live in the same city as his first family, I am usually the one who has to make whatever compromises, even sacrifices, that are necessary to make it easier for everyone to enjoy time together.
In the past, depending on my husband’s ex-wife’s decision, either she would not invite us to family celebrations and we would be okay with that or, if we were invited, we would go and make the best of an uncomfortable situation.
We’ve accepted that his children’s relationship with their mother is founded on deep love, appreciation and loyalty.
She is a devoted, loving mother, and grandmother. They are devoted and loving sons. From where I sit, that is a beautiful thing.
Even though in the early years, we were not invited to family celebrations she was having, we accepted this as part of the adjustment process. We did not indulge in useless resentment or frustration.
We invited her to family events at our house and she would attend. Even in fairly small groups. That was okay too.
Over the years, our comfort level with each other slowly improved.
We noticed signs of a positive shift after their oldest son married, and which continued after their daughter’s birth.
Without any formal discussion, his ex-wife gradually started including us for dinner when the young family came to visit.
We welcomed a discernible softening in the relationship between us.
By then, more than eleven years had passed since they had separated. Nine years since my husband and I became a couple.
Nevertheless, we were appreciative. We have always been ready to move forward with a more cooperative, relaxed relationship.
How our granddaughter set a high bar with a BIG hug.
During my husband’s son and his children’s recent visit, we joined them and his ex-wife for an excursion to a local children’s museum. Curiosity and enthusiasm set the tone for the morning fun and games.
Afterwards, we ate lunch at nearby restaurant. Our granddaughter announced she wanted to sit in between me, Jojo, and her grandmother, Gammy, as we slid into the girls’ side of the booth. Her happy little heart was bursting with delight as she was decidedly pleased with the seating arrangement.
Sitting tall in her booster seat, she reached up an arm to each of us, crowding us to her in a BIG hug. Her face beamed with love.
My heart melted with love.
This spontaneous gesture of heartfelt affection wasn’t lost on my stepson or my husband. Her father grabbed his cell phone and took a picture of the two grandmothers being hugged simultaneously by his sweet girl.
Then he texted the photo to all of us.
I forwarded the photo to my mother and daughters with the subject line: This is what love looks like.
How’s your relationship with your husband’s ex-wife?
Angry and resentful?
Tense and awkward?
What advice can you share to encourage a positive ex-wife/current wife relationship?
If you’re enjoying a positive relationship, how did you cultivate it?
How long did it take to reach a place of ease and mutual respect?
Do you need help navigating a difficult relationship with your husband’s ex-wife?
If you’re struggling, frustrated, anxious or exasperated, let me know what challenges you’re facing right here.
It’s time to figure out how you can make a difference in this challenging relationship.