You don’t have to like your ex’s new wife, but if there are children involved, we highly suggest you at least be civil.
There are a lot of articles out today about divorce and how two women, an ex-wife, and her ex’s new wife, end up becoming friends, sometimes even the best of friends. That’s a huge change from the old dialogue and stereotype of the evil nasty stepmother, isn’t it?
Still, though, do you have to like your ex’s new wife? It seems like a lot of pressure now to not only be nice but also to be BFFs going to Starbucks. How close do you two really have to be?
If Kids Aren’t Involved
If kids aren’t involved, here is the good news: you don’t have to like her at all, nor will you ever have to see her or your ex much, if at all. If this is your situation, simply be polite when and if you see her.
You two don’t need to share lattes, and you don’t even need to fake smile much. A wave and polite hello work. However, if you think she’s a very nice person befriending her could really make your ex unnerved, which might be fun. If that’s the case, enjoy!
If Kids Are Involved
The rules are different, so let’s dive in.
First, you might like your ex’s new wife a lot, and if you do, don’t feel weird about it—be glad! It makes life much easier; however, two women may not always mix well or may clash horrifically, so depending on where your situation lies and of course, what role she played in your divorce, these rules apply:
You Don’t Hate Her, But You Rarely See Eye-to-Eye
Perhaps you and she are just two different beasts, so to speak. If that’s the case, don’t expect to be buddies. Instead:
- Be polite and include her when applicable
- Observe like an outsider: instead of nit-picking or getting irritated with her, try to understand how she operates as if you were simply a stranger that saw her in Target
- Think before you speak always
You will never be best gal pals, and you don’t have to be, but as long as you both acknowledge that you’re both coming from different ends of the spectrum and try to be polite and not rude or excluding, that’s completely fine. Remember, not all of us will grab tea and cookies with our ex’s new wife, and that’s okay!
You Can’t Stand Her
No matter how hard you try, the woman gives you agita. Okay then. How do you manage?
- Keep conversations brief
- If necessary, contact your ex instead of her to manage problems
- Do not exclude her from things involving the children (weddings, bar mitzvahs) but do manage to circle on the other side of the room or include others in on conversations to diffuse the bad mojo between the two of you because your kids will pick up on this cat fight if it gets ugly. Be an adult!
You don’t have to like the new wife. There is no constitutional law that requires you to do so, but being polite, including her in on matters involving the kids and respecting her is an absolute must, even if you hate her. And if you do hate her, ask yourself why:
Is she really so bad?
Or are you jealous?
Perhaps it’s just that you feel less than because maybe you’ve not remarried and feel that your ex can provide a “family” for your kids that you can’t.
Newsflash, it’s normal to be jealous, but your ex is no better than you are for giving the kids a stepmother while you’re single. You’re the mom and, as we know, mom is everything! Remember that.
What is it that she does wrong? Could you cut her some slack? Being a stepparent is hard. Have you ever taken on that role?
Maybe she’s not truly herself around you. She may be too nervous. If you think that’s the case, maybe you two should have tea together and talk.
Are you blaming your ex’s annoying actions on your new wife? She might be the catalyst for said actions, or maybe not. Consider your ex. Consider how he was in the marriage. Are his actions really that off for him, or is it right in character with the past?
Although you believe she is, she may not be influencing him.
If she is influencing him, consider that she’s most likely insecure and controlling. What a terrible way to live and a terrible way to feel! Not your circus, not your monkeys. Keep being you!
Divorce isn’t easy, and when new spouses enter the picture it can get sticky. Keep a cool head, smile often, and be kind, and that kindness will hopefully be returned back to you!