For most blended family marriages, ex-spouses come with the package. Like it or not, if your wife shares custody of the children with her ex you will have to see and interact with him.
Even if your wife has full-custody, it’s still wise to develop and maintain a positive relationship with her ex. Children can be challenged with feelings of disloyalty for having a relationship with you – their stepdad.
Having a friendly relationship with their bio dad will go a long ways in removing those feelings of disloyalty. Don’t make your stepchildren compare between you and their bio dad or even worse don’t make them choose. Children simply want permission to love both of you. When you get along with their bio dad it gives them permission to do so.
You don’t have to become bowling buddies but a having a friendly relationship with your wife’s ex will help reduce the stress in her life which will contribute to your marital happiness. Remember the adage, “Happy Wife = Happy Life.”
Here are the top six tips to help you successfully cope with your wife’s ex.
#1 – Focus On The Marriage
Keep your thoughts on being a good husband to your wife. Let go of any stinking thinking like wondering whether your wife still has feelings for her ex or whether she believes she’s really happier with you. Relax and just be the lovable man your wife fell in love with after all she choose you over her ex.
Don’t brood on her ex’s attitude and behavior allowing it to affect your relationship. Make a point to speak your wife’s love language. Make sure she’s knows you love, support and appreciate her.
If you’re a man of prayer and your wife will have conversation with her ex help her prepare by praying with her. Also, help her write down her thoughts including what she’ll say and not say. Help her anticipate what her ex might say that will hurt or anger her. For more ideas on how to do this check out the “Be Prepared by Borrowing a Script and Sticking to It” section of the free e booklet Common Steps for Co-Parents.
#2 – Be Non-Threatening
For example, an ex-husband may give you a hard way to go because he feels threatened by you. When the Pretty Lady and I began planning our wedding I wrote a letter to my future stepkid’s dad.
In the letter I praised him for his role in his children’s life and communicated my respect for him as his kids dad. I let him know I wasn’t trying to replace him and that I wanted to partner with him and his ex in successfully raising his children.
Expressing these ideas to the ex helps to take away the need of the bio dad to disparage you or your marriage in order to keep his kid’s loyalties.
#3 – Maintain Your Boundaries
Your wife will more than likely share the negative events and damaged feelings from the past. As much as you may love and care for your wife they are her experiences and feelings not yours. Do not allow her skeletons from the past negatively influence your interactions with her ex.
#4 – Always Take the High Road
There may be situations with the ex where your patience will be tested. Keep your cool and maintain a respectful attitude in your dealings with the ex even if you can’t respect their lifestyle or choices. It’s important you treat the ex as you would want to be treated. Never mind if he doesn’t reciprocate. If you don’t have anything nice to say about the ex don’t say nothing at all.
#5 – Never Ever Compare
As men we are competitive, we will look at each other to compare our appearance, clothes, achievements, etc. It’s okay to compare – just keep your comparisons to yourself.
You might be tempted to mention or ask your wife, “I’m a better husband and provider than he was.”, “Don’t you think I’m a better husband?” or “You should be thankful I’m more understanding and thoughtful.”
Be careful. While you might not mean any harm by your comments or questions it could have the undesirable side effect of prompting to your wife to begin making comparisons between you and her ex. Don’t go there. This can be risky and could lead to more comparisons that can cause fights, feelings of insecurity, etc.
#6 – Adults Only
In blended families, there are bound to be some conflict that will involve the ex. What’s important is you keep the issues among the adults only. You should never put the children on the spot or place them in the middle of conflicts and problems.
By following these simple yet essential tips, you should be able to successfully relate with your wife’s ex so everyone can focus on successfully raising the children. After all it’s all about them.
Do you have any tips you can share? Please write them in the Comments.