Sunday, January 11, 2015

Solidarity...

When you are a second wife and stepmom, people can take a rather adversarial attitude toward you.  I have never had stepparents myself, but when I married Bill, I became a stepmom, at least officially.  I don't consider myself one anymore since his kids disowned us.  Still, I have a lot of empathy toward women who marry men who were once married before, especially if they also have kids.  It often seems like the court of public opinion is often stacked against second wives and stepmoms.

The other day, someone posted a thread on RfM about her ex-husband's "new" wife and the way the new wife relates to the OP's kids.  This woman says she tries to get along with her husband's wife, but the second wife is "impossible".  And yet, when I read her post, it seemed to me that she resented her ex's wife very much, which would preclude her genuinely trying to get along with her.  Not that I blame her too much for that.  It's natural.

Let's face it.  If I had been Bill's first wife, I'd probably resent any subsequent wives too... at least at first.  At the same time, I think a lot of people hesitate to take responsibility for their part in a failed relationship and they paint their exes as all bad.  Anyone who gets involved with them are often painted as all bad, too.

I am a veteran of having been raked over the coals many times simply for being my husband's second wife.  I brought some of it on myself because I freely admit to being his second wife.  Honestly, it's no one's business that he was married before.  Now that we've been married for 12 years-- over two years longer than he was with his ex-- it's easier to forget that I wasn't the original woman in his life.  I still have a lot of empathy for second wives and stepmothers, because I think a lot of them get an undeserved bad rap, even as I also know that some of them truly are as bad as they are made out to be.

Anyway, on this thread on RfM, there were many sympathetic comments toward the original poster.  I suspected she was looking for validation and support rather than the advice she claimed she was seeking.  She got a lot of what she seemed to be looking for from sympathetic folks who have had stepmothers they hate(d).

I wasn't going to add my input until I saw one person advising the original poster to go to court and have her husband's wife barred from visitations with his kids.  I simply had to write something to that because it struck me as irrational, unreasonable advice that would ultimately lead to destruction.  She wrote that the stepmom was a "negative force" in the children's lives and needed to be forcibly kept away from them by power of the law.  My comment was that going to court would not be useful.  It would be expensive, time consuming, destructive, and would probably ultimately fail unless the stepmother was truly a dangerous person-- and that could be proven in a court of law.

I actually worried before I posted my comment.  I've been hanging around RfM for over 10 years and it took a long time before people realized that, though I am very angry about what happened to Bill and his kids, I'm not truly a wicked person for having married him second.  Moreover, even if the stepmom truly is a toxic bitch, the kids will be exposed to plenty of bitches in their lives.  While it's optimal not to have to deal with them when one is a child, the reality is, bitches and assholes are everywhere.  Learning how to deal with difficult and unpleasant people is a valuable life skill.

Much to my surprise, I got a very nice email today from someone who appreciated what I wrote.  She explained that she, too, is a second wife and stepmother.  Her husband's daughter didn't treat them like human beings until they had been married for 16 years.  It's only been recently that she's had a somewhat genial relationship with them.  The email congratulated me for holding my temper and giving good advice.

If you've read my blog, you have no doubt read how angry I am with my husband's daughters and ex stepson.  There's a lot of venting and pain here.  I'm not as incensed with them as I once was... Time has given me a lot of perspective and I have developed some scars in place of my psychic wounds.  I realize that the kids were in a difficult situation themselves.

At the same time, I think a lot of people just don't understand what it's like to marry someone who has a past, especially if the first spouse is really toxic and crazy and belongs to a religion that claims to be family friendly but, when it comes down to it, really isn't.  Take someone with what appears to be a pretty serious personality disorder or two and mix it with a restrictive, legalistic religion and you will end up with craziness.  That's what the OP on RfM is dealing with and it's what I've dealt with, to a lesser extent.  Ex kept the kids away from us, so things were not as crazy as they could have been.  I know that wasn't by design, though.  I have a feeling that her intent was to split us up and she thought by keeping the kids away from us, that would be the end result.  What ultimately happened was her actions pushed us closer together.  Bill is a lot more reasonable and sane than she realized.  

Getting that email this morning made me feel really good.  It's not too often that people in my situation find solidarity with others.  Many people really do love to hate stepmothers.  It's a difficult role.  If I had known years ago what I would be in for after I married Bill, I might have steered clear.  Common sense would have told me to do that.  I didn't, though, and I'm glad...  Because look who I get to spend my life with now...


This was taken the other night as we watched a movie.  This morning, Arran was truly adoring Bill... I wish I'd had a camera so I could have filmed it.  I may not have kids, but I do have dogs... and they love Bill as much as I do.

    

4 comments:

  1. I really don't understand the need of some people to prejudge others based upon one's role in a multi-faceted relationship, especially, such as in Bill's case, when the end of one relationship clearly predated the start of the next one. How can anyone presume to know who the good guys or bad guys are, or if there even are such characters, based simply on a designated role in the situation? RFM has some good people there, but others are slightly loose cannons. Whoever suggested involving the courts to ban the new wife from visitations without really knowing any of the parties involved is one of such people. but then, who knows what baggage he or she brought into the conversation?

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    1. I know. I think a lot of people are hung up on the old fashioned myth of what makes up a family or a successful couple.

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  2. I went to RFM to find and read the thread. something about the OP didn't sit totally right with me. I certainly wouldn't accept her word as the unbiased gospel truth. as far as asking that the stepmother not be present at the gymnastics meet, that was plain stupid. had she just invited her father without mentioning heer stepmother, chances would have been 955 or better that the stepmother wouldn't have wanted to attend. there's something about being specifically uninvited.

    i participated in gymnastics at a higher level than the OP's child before my parents forced me to stop. You have no control of who walks through the door to watch a meet unless the person is a registered sex offender or someone has a restraining order against a particular person.

    as the kid continues up the levels of gymnastics, she's going to be performing her routines - beam, floor, and the other apparati -- in front of other kids and their parents, most of whom are crossing their fingers that she will screw up big time. Gymnastics is an ugly competitive sport. Her stepmother is the least of her worries. I also think her mother is enabling her in the whole mess concerning the gymnastics meet.

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    1. I agree. I used to show horses and I can tell you that when I was in the ring, I wasn't thinking about anything else but what I was doing on my horse. Seems to me that gymnastics would be the same way if not more. Besides, you stand a much higher chance of really getting hurt in gymnastics if you aren't focused.

      Also... if stepmom is in Utah 80% of the time, would she really go to CA to watch gymnastics? Like you say, I think this is more about mom resenting the subsequent wife and wanting to marginalize her. Same shit Ex tried to do to me.

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