Life is a circle of events—how we react, what we learn, and the ways we interact with others—that will most definitely come back full swing in our lives.
It is our responsibility to stay open to learn the lesson life is trying to teach us.
First of all, I want to say I never meant to fall in love with a divorced man with kids, but it happened—and now we are getting married.
The hardest part is knowing he and his ex have memories that I am not a part of, which can trigger a whole slew of emotions. But, I had to understand this is his past. The life they had together was short-lived, and I owned my reaction 100 percent.
I hope she can forgive me for being the new woman in his life.
Soon I will be the stepmom—the new Mrs. D, and with this role will also come a lot of responsibility and self-reflection.
I know it doesn’t ease her mind; no, it might even make her angry, but I understand what she is going through.
You see, I was in her shoes a few years back. My husband of over 20 years and I parted ways.
I always thought we would at least be friends—we have three children together and two decades of memories. Multiple photo albums filled with pictures of our life together—the timeline of our past life together.
Those memories were not enough to hold our family together, but I at least thought we could have a somewhat blended family.
Maybe his new woman found the memories we shared, a threat to their relationship.
It’s hard to know how she saw me—she has blocked me from every part of his life. She forbids him to ever see me or speak to me. She has slowly taken him away from his past life.
It used to upset me that I could not speak with him about our children. Honestly, I would get angry at her for working so hard at deleting his family. But, now I see it differently since I am wearing the shoes of the new woman. My role as the ex has taken a full turn.
I have read many books on what to do and what not to do as a new stepmom. Most of those books did not help me. Yes, they offered advice on how to avoid the drama by forming healthy boundaries and taking time for ourselves—but most of the advice is common sense.
It was not until I sat down and self-reflected on my life that I was able to understand what was happening, and how I could be of benefit among the chaos happening around me.
Isn’t life funny how it comes back around on us?
I am the new woman, and I am now standing on the other side of the circle in life.
As I look back at my situation, I wonder what my fiancé’s ex-wife thinks of me? How does she see me? What could her fears be of me right now?
My fiancé and his ex have memories. I respect those memories. They will have a lifetime bond that is shared through their son. I respect this bond.
What she thinks of me, I probably will never know. But, I hope I never give her a reason to think of me as a bad person. I hope she sees me as someone who respects her boundaries, and that I am not viewed as a threat to her.
If there is one thing I have learned, it is that a good person will not allow a new relationship to replace the bond between their children.
This is not a knock on my ex, but being on the other side, I see how my fiancé protects his relationship with his son. At first, I did not understand why he—as I saw it—catered to her demands, but I get it now. His son is his pride and joy, as it should be.
I respect his devotion to his son, and it allows me to see just how loving and caring of a man he is. When we are parents, it is our responsibility to provide for and protect our children. Just because a mom and dad separate, that does not mean that responsibility is now null and void. No. It is a lifetime connection that no one can (or at least should) ever tear apart.
I see how my children were robbed of their father’s love by his new woman, and I do not want to be that person.
Looking back from all sides of the fence.
Having been the replaced woman, and now the new woman, I want to share what I have learned:
1. Boundaries will be crossed.
Boundaries are the deal breakers in life. We live by our core values, and when they are crossed, our emotions are heightened. Whether you are the ex or the new woman, many boundaries will be tested. Old lives are forever changed, and all sides are learning how to dance together and alone.
Please, sit down and make a list of your core values in life. If we do not clearly understand our boundaries, we cannot communicate them to others.
2. Respect Emotions.
Emotions will be high. As the new woman, we look like a threat to the momma bear. A mother bear will kill to protect her young cubs. Step back—do not run away, feel out the situation, and understand she is doing her job of protecting her children. Make sure you calmly and kindly communicate your boundaries when they are crossed, but do not come off as a threat. If you have children of your own, you will understand she is doing her job to keep the babies safe.
If you do not have children, watch some videos on encounters with mother bears.
Be aware of your emotions that are elevated in this new situation you are facing. Try to place yourself in her shoes and do not react out of fear or anger. Stand your ground, but know you are the threat, not her.
Your fiancé’s emotions are a hot mess right now. He is stuck between his old life and creating a new life. How we, the new women, react is our responsibility, and as women, we affect men more than we will probably ever understand. If we are calm, our fiancé can breathe a bit easier. Even if his ex is an emotional basket case, at least he will feel safe with us — is this not our goal!
3. Stay on the outside.
This is the hardest part for us as women. We love to give advice, don’t we? If there is drama with the ex, please do not add more fuel to the fire. If he asks your opinion, give it as an outsider looking in. Keep the emotions out of your conversation. Be his friend because that is what he wants, not an overbearing, jealous girlfriend.
4. Trust is vital.
If we have trust issues, there is no relationship, period. His ex will be a part of his life forever. If he’s a great dad, he will do his part in protecting his children, and as a man, it is his job to be a provider. If we were on the other side (which I have been), this is a big deal in helping to maintain a bit of normalcy in a now chaotic life our children did not sign up for.
As for their communications, that is none of your business. My fiancé texts her on a group text that includes me. I did not ask for this; he did it on his own. He wants me to feel comfortable and safe. Of course, she will text him and not include me, but he always shows me those text messages right away, and will text back in our group text message.
And yes, he has confronted her on this issue. She doesn’t care, but how I react and how he reacts is all that matters.
If you do not feel you can trust him, look at why? Is he giving you signs that he is talking to his ex behind your back? Communicate your boundaries with him. Talk to a counselor about your feelings of mistrust. A lot of our reactions are based on past experiences.
5. Just be yourself.
He fell in love with you. Do not lose who you are over his past and your insecurities. He is not with her. They are divorced, so trust him. Take time for you. Give him time alone with his children. I work a lot of weekends, and my fiancé goes to his ex’s house without me to pick up his son. He always thanks me for not making a big deal about it, and he sends me pictures throughout the day of him and his son.
You may never be friends with your fiancé’s ex-wife, but you can be civil and true to yourself. Blended families take time, patience, and a lot of work. How we react is our responsibility. Act with grace, hold onto your boundaries, and just be a good person.
Life is a circle, and what goes around will come back—please, always remember this.