You’re remarried, and you want to believe. You want to believe that you’ve found the love of your life. You want to believe you’ve found a fresh start as a lover and parent. You want to believe your remarriage is untouchable. There’s one small crack in your faith’s armor: your ex-wife.
Even the memory of her stirs up memories of conflict, feelings of inadequacy as a man, husband, and father, making you doubt yourself. Blaming your ex-wife is an easy way to dismiss them and convince yourself that you did everything right. She was too busy being demanding, critical, and selfish to see how devoted, loyal, and capable you are. Success is the best revenge, so you’ll prove her wrong by making your remarriage perfect.
That is, unless she gets somehow in the way of that too. Her continued presence leaves you bitter and resentful. Alimony and child-support salt the wound. If only there were a way to get her out of the way…
Bad news: you can’t. You then try to reduce her impact. You show yourself, your kids, and your new wife that you’re a better parent than your ex. Showing her inadequacy as a woman, wife, and mother is part of your revenge too, and you’ll happily smear her to anyone who’ll hear it.
You tell the children that she doesn’t really matter, and that they don’t need her, and that she doesn’t make them her priority anyway. You tell them their home with you and your new wife is their “real home.” You tell them their step-mom is a better mother than their biological mom. You tell them your lifestyle, religious practices, and eating habits are superior. You tell them a lot of other things, too:
- She mismanages their child support.
- She neglects the children’s physical and emotional needs.
- She’s too busy dating.
- She’s mentally and emotionally unstable.
- She’s bad mouthing you and your present wife.
- She’s lazy.
How Marginalizing Your Ex-Wife Hurts You
These practices come back to bite you:
- Resentment over how things turned out prevents you from enjoying time with your kids, because their presence reactivates residual helplessness from the remarriage.
- You spend too much time venting to your new wife about how bad you had it, making her feel like she has to make up to you for your past hurt, thus overlooking her needs.
- Investing effort and concentration in your ex-wife reminds you that there’s still a part of your life over which you lack control, leaving you frustrated.
How Marginalizing Your Ex-Wife Hurts Your Children
Children feel that they are an extension of both parents, both the good and the bad. Suggesting that one parent is significantly flawed plants a seed of self-doubt in the children’s mind. If the the parent is damaged, then they are too. The younger the children, the more perfect they believe their parents to be. Taking that away from them robs them of a piece of their innocence.
What can you do?
- Let go of your resentment toward your ex.
- Reestablish a co-parenting relationship with your ex wife.
- Refrain from sharing negative opinions and feelings about your ex with your children.
- Focus on the present and your current marriage.
- Ditch the previous marriage’s emotional baggage with the help of a therapist, in a safe
environment where you can achieve some healing and empowerment over your current situation.
Fix Your Expectations
You may have expected that this new marriage will be all that the previous one wasn’t. You hoped to feel in charge of your life but quickly discovered that remarriage is far more complex than a first marriage, even if you married your soul mate.
You can achieve the satisfaction, happiness and love you yearn for, but it’ll take a lot of planning, work, and flexibility to achieve it.
You can’t get rid of your ex-wife, but by parenting cooperatively instead of competitively, your children will be much happier.
Need a Little More Help?
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