Friday, February 5, 2016

The Talk

the talk, biological mother and stepmom talk, step family, blended family, stepmom, step mother, biological mother talk
When this New Year came, I decided that I wanted to try to reach out to my husband’s ex-wife who has been nothing but very difficult to deal with over the past seven years.  I knew her birthday was coming up and decided to get her a nice birthday card and a gift card to one of her favorite stores and send a little note inside of the card asking if we could start over fresh.  I know I was taking a big risk and was unsure how she would respond back to me.  Three days after I mailed it to her, I received a message from her and of course, she appreciated what I did and was surprised to receive it. But did say she was open to meeting with me.  I decided to not meet in person, but to talk over the phone with her.  And she agreed to do that with me, she did warn me that it wouldn’t be a pleasant conversation due to everything that happened in the past, but I still wanted to make peace with her.  To give a brief history here, she and I have never had a conversation before, only Hi and Bye and she never really acknowledged me. I know having this talk with her would be pretty difficult to have, but I was up for the challenge because of the goal I wanted to accomplish. My goal is to be a part of my stepchildren’s lives again.  Leading up to this phone call with the ex-wife, it was nerve racking and I was full of anxiety and my mind would not stop thinking of what things is she going to bring up and how far back would she go with this. I got so much advice from my counselor, friends, my husband and other stepmoms. All of the advice I received was very helpful to me and it really helped me prepare for the worst. 
If you haven't spoken or met the mother of your stepchildren, I highly recommend doing it. It may make things a lot easier in your blended family if you do try to communicate with her. The sooner you meet with her the better, don't wait seven years like I did.
When and if you do have any communication with her, make sure you tell her these two things:
  1. I respect you as their mother, I will never try to take your place. 
  2. I view my role as one of support to their father and that your only desire is to be a blessing to them.  
If you do plan on trying to have a talk with your husband’s ex-wife depending on how bad the situation is instead of meeting with her in person, you might want to do it over the phone or send her an email.  I have found talking on the phone to be less stressful and less emotional for me.  If your not sure what you should ask her when you talk to her, here are some questions that can help get you started:

5 Questions to ask ex-wife: (biological mother of your stepchildren)
  1. What do you feel I could do in order to make this situation more comfortable for your children?
  2. How do you see our separate families co-existing for the sake of your children?
  3. What is your plan for your children in the next 5 years?
  4. How do we coexist as biological mother and stepmom?
  5. What do you see my role in your children’s life being?

These questions should help get you both started with the conversation and hopefully it doesn’t get to out of control.  If it does get out of control you can always tell them this “It looks like we aren’t going to be able to resolve things right now maybe we can talk again when you are ready to be more peaceful, respectful and calm.”  Here’s another thing you could say if it’s get heated: “Stop, you may not speak to me that way. If you want to discuss an issue, I am more than happy to work through it with you, but you may not criticize or judge me that way.”  I also made up index cards with positive things on them and to help keep me on track and to help me stay calm while talking with the ex-wife.  The index cards I made in which helped me prepare for my talk with my husband’s ex-wife are in the image below.


I hope these tips help you with your conversation with your biological mother of your stepchildren.
The phone call with my husband’s ex-wife wasn’t that bad as I thought it would be. I did tell her in the beginning that I know I haven’t been the best Stepmom to the children and have made many mistakes, but I still love and care for them and want to be a part of their lives.  I told her being a step parent is very hard.  Then I told her that this past year and a half I have been going to counseling and have been reading a lot of books on being a stepmom.
Then she said she had more of a problem with my husband than me.  She said there were problems with the kids and my husband before I was even in the picture.  Then she started explaining what had happened in the past and when they were married and how he wasn’t a good father when they were married and how she felt like he didn’t want kids to begin with.  Then she started talking about my husband’s family and how they treated her and the kids.  It was awful to listen to her put down my husband, but I did listen to her, letting her speak her peace.  She talked about how there were a lot of issues before I came into the picture, but then after I came into the picture there were more issues. 

Then came the biggest shock of the whole phone call.  She then told me that for a few years my stepchildren were keeping a secret to themselves that they didn’t want to tell her about because they thought it would really hurt her feelings a lot.  They finally came clean and told her recently. They said they know that their father (my husband) cheated on her when they were married. “That their father had an affair with me and that my youngest daughter is their father’s child”.  Who knows how they came up with this, but I reassured the ex-wife that my youngest daughter is not my husband’s and that I didn’t even meet my husband until 2008 and that I met him off of an online dating website.  I was in shock that my stepchildren thought this for a long time, I am still unsure what their reasons are for thinking this way other than my daughter has my husband’s color eyes, but that’s all she has of him.  My ex-husband that is my daughter’s father also has hazel eyes too.  It did kind of explain why my stepdaughter hates me so much since she was thinking that I was the one that caused her parents to divorce.
Then the ex-wife took a jab at me and said if my husband was a good father I (meaning me) would have only made one mistake and that would have been it. This to me meant that my husband would have ended the relationship.  The ex-wife then said that my husband just let it all continue and he never stood up for the children and put them first. Then she shared with me a little bit about her recent marriage and how she put her children first before her second husband (my husband to her was her first husband btw). She told me it was one of the reasons why she divorced her last husband. She went on to say that there were many problems with her second marriage because her second husband didn’t know how to be a good father to his own kids yet alone be a great stepparent to her children.  Then she told me several stories of what had happened in her marriage to her second husband and how she had to call CPS (Child Protective Services) on his ex-wife because of the problems that were happening over there.  Her marriage to her second husband only lasted a year if that, then they got divorced.
She then went on to explain that my husband’s relationship with my stepdaughter may never recover, but it wouldn’t hurt for him to try. She said that my stepdaughter told her that when she gets married she doesn’t want my husband to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.  Hearing that really made me get choked up and I was very sad for my husband that his daughter feels this strong hatred and resentment towards him.  Then she started talking about my stepson and how she thinks that he is a mess and has a hard time trying to open up and talk about his feelings with anyone. She said that my stepson really needs his Dad right now because he is feeling sad since the ex-wife’s father has cancer and is not doing so well.
She told me that the children were keeping secrets from her that my husband told them not to tell her which really made her upset when they told her the secrets. Then she said there are even secrets that my husband told the kids not to tell me even.
She said that my stepdaughter hated when I would buy something the same as her, meaning the same top or shop at the same clothing store as her.  I then mention to her that it only happened one time and it was the same sweater but different colors for a family picture we had taken.
Then we talked about the time where my stepdaughter gave me the middle finger and how it was agreed that if she apologized to me that I would have to apologize to her.  For what I don’t know, because I wasn’t in the wrong. She never did apologize to me for that, but it’s in the past.
Then I mentioned how it seemed like when issues would happen that we never seemed to work them out and that the kids would always go home with unresolved issues which really bugged me and I didn’t want it to be that way, but that’s what happened.  There was only one time that we actually all sat down and worked on an issue and resolved it.  Then I brought up the vacation we took a year and half ago and how I tried to apologize and talk to my stepdaughter and how she didn’t want to talk and work things out.  That issues happen and they just build and build up until it explodes and I never wanted it to be that way, but my stepdaughter never wanted to resolve issues she just always wanted to run away from them.  She said that my husband is the same way and that he never wants to resolve issues but just wants to move and pretend they never happened.  I don’t agree with her on that, he does want to resolve issues. Then I told her right from the beginning we both agreed meaning me and my husband that he would discipline his kids and I would do my kids. But there were a few things that have happened in the past where I waited for him to handle it, but he just stood there frozen, then I stepped in took control of the situations.  I did tell her that my husband is pretty passive and has a hard time disciplining the kids because of guilt parenting which makes it hard when they do something wrong. Then I mentioned an incident that happened where my stepdaughter and my girls were playing and for some reason my girls weren’t playing the way my stepdaughter wanted them to play so then she spanked their butts.  Of course they started crying and she left the room, I went up there and found out what she did to my girls. When I told my husband, he just stood there and didn’t know what to say and he just didn’t do anything. I told my stepdaughter to go to her room.  I know I shouldn’t have stepped in but someone had to do something and not let her get away with spanking her little stepsisters. She just listened to me and didn’t say a word. 
Then she mention that her children felt like they didn’t belong there at our house and that their toys weren’t safe when they weren’t there.  I told her that I remembered that time and we did get a lock on their bedroom door and got a treasure chest for their toys and put them in there with a lock which they had the key too.  Then I told her that any time we were made aware of things they didn’t like, we would always try to find a way to resolve it, but there were things that they didn’t like that they wouldn’t tell us about.  How do we make them happy and make it work when we don’t know what they are not happy about.
There were other things we chatted about, but I don’t want to make this post a whole book.  We never really touched the surface on how I hurt my stepchildren’s feelings. I felt like there is still more to talk to her about and she agreed.  I then told her that I really want to make things right between my stepchildren and myself and asked her what she thought I could do to change things around. She then suggested that I should write a letter to my stepdaughter and maybe that would help change things around. But then she also said, she would like to read the letter before I send it to my stepdaughter (her daughter). In the end I did tell her that it really hurt my feelings that she didn’t let me be a part of my stepdaughter’s graduating high school, I really wanted to be there for that special day. Then she said but her daughter didn’t want me there and she said both of her two kids have said to her that they didn’t want to see me and my kids ever again after the vacation we took a year and a half ago. She said maybe things will change in time and that she’s leaving that decision up to the kids if whether or not they want me to be a part of their life. We did end up ending the phone call on a good note and agreed that we would talk again soon to discuss how I hurt my stepchildren.  So there is more to come.
When my husband got home I spoke to my husband about everything, he really felt like she was trying to come between me and him by saying there are secrets the kids are keeping from me. There were some other things that were said about my husband that when I questioned him, he said it wasn’t true. So I am just not sure at this point if the ex-wife is lying or if my stepdaughter is lying to her mother about things that never were said or didn’t happen.  Stay tuned until the next talk with her, so more to come at a later time.
Have you ever met with your husband's ex-wife? If so, how did it go?

11 comments:

  1. Sounds like a lot of talking! It's good that the conversation ended positively, anyways.

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  2. My ex husband and I divorced when my daughter was 20. She took it very hard and the fact that he left for another woman really rocked her world and forever changed how she saw her dad and men in general. I was a complete mess for the first year as I naively didn't see it coming so I know that didn't help my daughter and her feelings about her dad. Eventually a good friend told me that once I forgave him, she would be able to also. I knew she needed him in her life. At first I just did a lot of faking it, as I encouraged her to let him back in her life but it was working slowly. Eventually my words became less fake and I realized I was making peace with it. I know I'll never be completely over it but I'm in a much happier place and my daughter has found a place in her life for him. I hope you and your blended family can find some peace as well. It's a tough road.

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    1. That's great that you were able to work through your hurt and learn to forgive. I love how it really helped your daughter to get past it too. I think that's one of the reasons why my stepdaughter is struggling with a good relationship with us, because her mother too. Thank you for sharing your story on here.

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  3. I loved that you made the index cards to keep things positive and on track. Great thinking. You made huge leaps.

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  4. Wow, great post and great talk. This could not have been an easy talk to have but I know it is important and one that people that are having it need support on. Great tips!

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  5. Hopefully, this talk can end up on a good note. I mean, good for all sides involve. Such a great courage you have to do such thing by the way.

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  6. I am happy for you that the conversation ended positively. These are great tips.

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  7. What a great approach to a very vulnerable talk for both of you. I love your index card reminders to keep you calm and focused on the goal and not your emotions.

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  8. It is so important to keep communication open with an Ex. I have a few friends that struggle with getting along with the other parent. It should always be what is best for the children.

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  9. Nice to know you ended on a positive note. You should really put what is best for the children ahead.

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  10. May your conversations continue to be fruitful. :)

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