Overcoming Obstacles

Girlio - posted on 06/16/2009 ( 2 moms have responded )

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Have any of the Bio Mom's on here ever resented the Step-moms? Have any of the Step-moms had resentment for the Bio Mom's? If so what happened or occurred to change your viewpoint? What was the turning point in the relationship between you? Did Step-mom do something or say something that made you realize that maybe she really did have your children's best interests at heart? Did Bio-mom say or do something to/for Step-mom that she realized that Bio-mom was accepting her for a person that was going to be in her kids life? Were any of the Bio-moms afraid at first that Step-mom was trying to replace her? How did you realize that wasn't the case?

Most of the posts on here have stated a conversation, 1 on 1 with each other; I have done that, I explained that it was her kids best interests that I had at heart, that I was never, nor did I want to replace her, that I have never nor would I ever say anything bad or negative about her to her children, and that I tell them all the time that "mom loves you too". She thanked me and hugged me, I thought things would be fine after that. Obviously this technique didn't work for me, are there other things that you have done/tried that worked for some of you that I could try?

I made Mother's day cards with her kids that were a collage of pictures of each of them for her, thinking that she could take them in her carry on (she was going on a trip for 3 weeks) and had them to show her friends and family her kids. The kids spent hours on this project and were so proud of them. I wanted her to know that even at our house that we thought about her too. - She threw them out because they were things the kids did with us.

I am running out of ideas, out of patience. I don't want to be "friends" as we have very different lifestyles, tastes, hobbies etc, not to mention that we live in different cities. BUT I do want to be amicable to each other for the kids, I want civility and common courtesy's (please and thank you's even), I want to co-parent with her and DH (they are on relatively good terms in most cases). I want the kids to see that adults can be mature and have healthy relationships, I want them to know that they can't play us against each other, and it would be REALLY great if we could have some (I don't expect all) of the same rules for the little ones in both houses.

I know that this has to be a 2 way street, it won't work if only 1 person tries, but maybe other ideas out there could help me get her on the same page. She that it isn't about us, but the kids, it isn't about her, me or DH but those 2 little darlings that I do love with all my heart!

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Ashley - posted on 06/17/2009

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One other thing... the Mother's Day cards. That might be something that she could appreciate later, when you all are in the midst of sustained communications and mutual understanding about your feelings. Then, she could appreciate the project for what you intended, understand better that you are not threatening her and try to handle her feelings of being threatened better... those feelings are never going to go away. The fact that she actually threw them away says a lot about her emotional position right now. You being sensitive to that will help to make your relationship better. That doesn't mean that you can't also find a non-confrontational way to tell her how hurtful it was to know that she threw them out. Do not assume that you know what her intentions were or that she knows what your feelings are. Those are the things that meaningful conversations are made of.

I have an example from this week that is similar but backwards. Father's Day is this Sunday. I always bake my husband's favorite cake for his holidays. He looks forward to it every year. Ok, now, my step-wife just finished making a cake with my step-son for his birthday a couple of weeks ago. During that effort, my step-son mentioned some ideas to HER that he had about making a cake for his dad (my husband) for Father's Day. She told me that my step-son wanted to make the cake and that she was going to help him do it. Frankly, I felt annoyed and hurt. In my mind I was thinking "How dare she make a cake for MY husband on Father's Day?!" -and- "What am I going to do about the cake that I was going to make? The cake that I know he is expecting?" I had a lot of hurtful feelings that I could have directed straight at her. But, then I thought about the fact that it was my step-son making the cake. She was just "assisting". He really wanted it to be a surprise and also wanted to share something with his mother that he enjoyed (baking). While I still have the hurtful feelings, I can deal with them better and prevent that from causing a fight between me and her. But, that's only because I know more about her feelings and intentions now, because we are communicating better.

I hope this helps...

Ashley - posted on 06/17/2009

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In short, I recommend that you re-evaluate your expectations on "things being fine" and your approach to your conversations with your step-wife.



I am VERY different from my step-wife. That's why my husband is married to me and is not married to her (he reminds me of that regularly). Like what you've said I think that our "getting along" started with a break through 1-on-1 (which it sounds like you've had) but then a big maintenance job after that. Basically, I can't expect to be able to "be myself" around her and have that be ok. She doesn't agree with who I am. I also can't expect to be accepting of who she is, because I'm not. We can't be friends. So, things are never going to "be fine" in the sense that I'm going to be able to just get along or that the old hurtful feelings (on her side or mine) aren't going to crop up and require that we have another 1-on-1. But, that doesn't mean that we can't be cordial. That's the goal... mature, cordial, civility. I don't even expect pleases and thank yous. I certainly do not expect similar rules in both houses. If that were possible, my husband would still be married to her. Again, realistic expectations.



All that said, I don't think I'd have been able to get to the place that I am without reading "Difficult Conversations" by Douglas Stone. I HIGHLY recommend that you pick up a copy ASAP. In fact, I'm seriously considering buying a copy for my step-wife. I wrote a post on it a couple of weeks ago. It has done WONDERS to help me reframe my expectations for a relationship with my step-wife. And, from that new state of mind, I am learning how to facilitate meaningful conversations with her. That doesn't mean that every conversation is good or will be good. We are very different people (like you and yours). But, I do think that we have been able to find some common ground in mutual respect as people, to work together on behalf of the kids. Both of us will continue to "mess up" and as a result... it is (and will continue to be) very hard every day. But, at least we will minimize the fighting and work better at communicating and understanding our feelings.



I know that when I looked hard at myself as a step-mom... and then thought about what it would be like to have another woman mothering my children and doing a good job at it (her perspective).... I could understand how threatening and painful that could be (I also have a bio-daughter). I can understand how my step-wife will always have painful feelings there. It isn't something that can be "resolved". As a step-mom, I also have feelings of being unappreciated by her. But, how can she appreciate me in that light? Maybe she can at some level, but that doesn't make the painful feelings go away. I have to understand that and be sensitive. Hopefully, through my actions, she can be more sensitive to my feelings too. But, that only comes through sustained communication about your feelings, with the understanding that sometimes that will royally suck. The strategies in the book really work for making communication better. With better communication comes better understanding. Hopefully, with better understanding comes better behavior. But, it has to come from inside her. There isn't any magic answer for something you can do to make her change or accept your point of view.



I think you need to readjust your expectations and learn some tools for communicating that will help you work better with your step-wife. There isn't anything that you can do to "make her see that it isn't about us". She has to find that on her own. But, you can do what you can do with yourself. I think a lot of your frustration and hurt is coming from you.

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