If your spouse was married previously and had children, chances are, you have to deal with their ex. Although some families manage this well and make it look easy, this can be difficult for the majority of families. Step-parenting is a difficult task by nature. Throw in a difficult ex-spouse, and it can create some tumultuous times.
Try to remember that you will always have to deal with an ex-spouse when there are children involved. It won’t end when the children are 18. There will still be weddings, babies, and other events that are likely to bring everyone together. Trying to get along with the ex-spouse might seem difficult at first, however, in the long run, it will make things a lot easier.
An ex-spouse may feel threatened by you. For example, a new step-mother is likely to stir up some feelings for the biological mother. She may feel threatened by you and the kids’ willingness to accept you. It may be helpful to try and communicate up front with her about your role. Try to assure her that you value her role and respect her position as a mother. Try to communicate that you understand your role is the step-mother and you won’t try to take over her position. Sometimes this can be helpful in alleviating fears.
If you and your spouse’s ex have already started off on shaky ground, consider some ways to try and alleviate this. Perhaps it has been years of sharing glares or hearing the children repeat negative things they’ve heard about you. Whatever the case, try to consider if there are some steps you could take in the right direction. This might include sending an email or setting up a face-to-face meeting.
Consider therapy if you find yourself holding a lot of resentment, anger, and jealousy toward your spouse’s ex. Such feelings are likely to damage your marriage. Learning to accept your spouse’s past is important. Family therapy may also be helpful in establishing your role within the family.