In a perfect world, a mom and a stepmom would get a long.
Both parties would be able to put whatever it is they are dealing with aside, and work together for the sake of the kids.
There would be no turf wars, no displaced feelings, no misconstrued intentions.
But, as I'm pretty sure you've noticed, we don't live in a perfect world.
Stepmoms and moms don't always get along.
In fact, it's so common for there to be issues between a stepmom and a mom, that when they do get along, society deems it as weird!
Now, it’s one thing when both women are fine with not pursuing a healthy co-parenting relationship, but what happens when one of them would like it, and the other... well… not so much!
Every week I get emails from fellow stepmoms asking me about this very topic.
They want a healthy co-parenting relationship with their husband's ex-wife, and the ex-wife, well, for lack of better words, wants nothing to do with them!
So the question is, what should a stepmom if she wants to be friends with the ex, and the ex isn't interested!
1. REACH OUT AND MAKE SURE YOUR INTENTIONS ARE CLEAR
Maybe she doesn't even know that you'd like this type of relationship.
Maybe the way she is acting and reacting is a defence mechanism to protect herself from being rejected by you.
Maybe she's never even thought about the possibility of the two of you taking your relationship to the next level.
You’ll never know until you put yourself out there!
Just be prepared that your initial thought may be right - she may actually have no desire to have a relationship you. She may turn you down.
But at this point at least you know that you've given it one last attempt.
2. DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
If she's not picking up what you're throwing out there, don't take it personally. It's probably not about you, and more about:
the idea of you
where she's at in processing the demise of her marriage
how she's dealing with the extra complications and emotions that come with co-parenting and having another woman in her child's life
It could very well be about you! If that's the case, head on over to the next point!
Look, often these situations don't bring out our shiniest qualities. The stressors that come with divorce and stepfamily dynamics are often foreign, and result in emotions that we're unfamiliar with.
Which in turn, can sometimes result in responses that we aren't necessarily proud of.
If you've acted in a way that has affected your relationship with your husband's ex-wife, own it and apologize!
Say "hey, about that day... I just wanted to reach out and say I'm sorry, I shouldn't have acted that way and I just want you to know that"
Don't do with the expectation of receiving an apology back - just own YOUR behaviour and move forward.
Remember, the only person that you an control is YOU!
4. ALWAYS BE THE BIGGER PERSON
Even if this woman has become a very toxic part of your life, keep all interactions with her respectful and business like.
You don't want to add fuel to the fire, and hey, you never know what could happen down the road ... even though it seems impossible right now, as time your relationship could change.
You don't want to do anything that could jeopardize that from happening.
Not to mention, you're better than that crap!
5. REMEMBER, WE ALL HAVE DIFFERENT TRUTHS
We all see the world from a different lens based on our own experiences and the stories that we tell ourselves.
We tell ourselves stories so that our experiences make sense for our own narrative. (Does that make sense? Clear as mud?)
Here's an example. Your husband may tell you about all the times his ex-wife nagged him and all of the sh*tty things she's done. They probably did happen. Relationships are tough. No one's perfect (even you)
But they also probably had some really good times too.
But he's probably not going to tell you about the amazing vacation they had together, or how they used to stay up late on the porch talking for hours (I just made those examples up but I think you get what I'm saying).
He's more likely to focus on the negative because, like I said, that fits his story and where's he's at in his life.
Perhaps the way she sees you, needs to fit her current narrative. We all have different truths!
I also encourage you to take some time and think about how she may be perceiving and experiencing things in your co-parenting dynamic. A little empathy can go a long way!
6. LET IT GO.
If you've tried, and apologized, and extended olive branch after olive branch…
If you've reached out about meeting for coffee or having a glass of wine to get back on the same page, suggested co-parenting counselling or made efforts that have not been reciprocated, then girl you need to just LET IT GO!
At the end of the day, you can't make someone have a relationship with you if they don't want to have a relationship with you.
Keep being the bigger person.
Keep being nice.
Keep doing you...
And remember, we all have to do what we feel is best for us in any given moment! Even though it may be better for the kids to have open dialogue between to two women in their lives, you have to respect that it's not a priority for her at this point in time!