Three years ago I would not have written this post. Three years ago I was a bitter, spiteful, and angry person when it came to matters concerning my husband’s ex wife, Erica, so had I clicked on this link then, I would have exited out of this post so fast that the entire internet would have paused to take a moment of silence.
You see, Erica and I had a rough start. I first met her almost eight years ago after her and Chris had gotten divorced, known to me only as the mother of his sons. I didn’t ask about her at first, but one day I decided to send her a MySpace message in hopes I could reach out for “friendship”- you know, a mutual “I guess I’ll tolerate you” kind of friendship for the sake of the boys. Well, that epic failed for two reasons (1) Erica and I weren’t on the same page just yet and (2) reaching out through MySpace message wasn’t exactly a good idea.
Over the years, Erica and I slowly grew to hate it other for really no reason at all. I would develop a thought about her in my head based on something the boys had said to their father or in general conversation, and I’d twist around the story to convince myself that Erica was a really manipulative, jealous, and flat out bitchy person. She would do the same, so we ended up as two bitches arguing over nothing, refusing to apologize only because of our egos.
It didn’t help that the oldest of Chris’ sons took this as an opportunity to expand his influence on both families, twisting stories of things that had really happened in order to play one of us against the other. For those that aren’t familiar, this is a common occurrence with blended families. Had we taken the time to educate ourselves on co-parenting, we would have known that.
As time went on, the hate for Erica grew. She would make decisions that I wouldn’t agree with, but instead of trying to understand her logic I simply got angry. The childish and immature part of me began to take action for my anger, making our entire family suffer for my attempt to “get back at” Erica. I later learned that she would do the same, so in reality we didn’t affect each other,
we affected our families.
Our intense dislike for each other came to a head after Erica and her second husband divorced. Chris’ oldest son had gotten into some trouble at school which meant his case was sent to juvenile probation. We were all stressed over the court fees, school suspension, and the inconvenience of taking time away from work (and using earned vacation time) that we had simply had enough of the fighting and bickering. Erica called me up and invited me to lunch to talk, and while we were there we laid everything out on the table.
We both realized we each had major misconceptions about the other person. We both cried as we aired out our frustrations, and we left the lunch as two different people. The weight we had lived with for so long was finally lifted.
Fast forward to three years later. Chris’ new job now requires him to do some traveling, sometimes with not a lot of notice, and he had to drive out to Colorado starting the day we had planned to leave for a beach vacation. The weekend we were going was “his weekend” with his youngest son, so I called Erica to tell her that Chris wouldn’t be with me when I went to the beach. I figured Hayden may want to go to the beach but wasn’t sure if he would go with it being just me and Hurricane Annadelle. During our conversation, Erica joked, “I’ll go with you!” to which I replied, “Sounds good to me!” Only, I wasn’t kidding, so we made plans for her, her husband, Hayden, and Erica’s other son (from a previous marriage) to go with us.
We had an absolute blast at the beach, although I missed Chris terribly. Erica’s husband, Matt, also hurt his back during the trip but managed through the pain until we got back home. I posted a few photos from our trip on social media, including this one of Erica and I:
As expected, I had some weird feedback from my friends, such as “WTF are you doing at the beach with Erica?” and “Is that not weird being there with your husband’s ex wife?”
My oldest sister sent me a message, as well, but was very understanding about the whole situation.
What Amy replied jokingly back to my initial answer tells you what everyone was else was thinking: judgy judgy. I’m thankful that I have friends and family who know me well enough to understand that I know I make mistakes and I’m willing to forgive others for their mistakes, including the mother of my husband’s sons.
Unfortunately, a majority of blended families in America simply don’t work that way. The social stigma is that blended families can’t and shouldn’t “be friends”, but you should be cordial. Well, okay, I sort of get that, but I don’t agree with it. And here’s why:
1. You get to spend more time with your kids.
When you become friends with your ex’s spouse, naturally you tend to spend more time together. In turn, your kids spend more time with both parents. It’s a win/win, really.
2. There’s no need to separate special days.
Essentially, the need to hold two birthday parties or even rotate holidays like Thanksgiving are eliminated. Scheduling holidays and the like is much less stressful.
3. You feel a lot freakin’ better.
Whether you realize it or not, holding anger and resentment toward your spouse’s ex makes you a bitter, angry person. Learn to let that stuff go and just roll with the flow. Your psyche will thank you for it.
4. You step out of the social norm.
Tell society to take a hike! Who cares if your friends think it’s weird? They’ll make assumptions and judgments regardless.
5. Your kids (and spouse) will thank you for it.
The feuding doesn’t only affect you and the person you’re feuding with- it affects your kids and spouse, too. They constantly have to deal with your bitterness and hatred toward the other person.
Not only will your children feel more secure, they’ll have a better concept of problem solving, compromise, and overall happiness. You are giving your children an example they need to follow later on in life, not just in co-parenting but in other aspects of life, as well, like at school and work.