What images came to mind when you read the title? Child custody battles? Every other holiday? I've never referred to Russ' first wife as the ‘Ex-Wife.’ The whole idea of calling someone an 'Ex' sounded harsh to me. I wanted a term that would show kindness up front and be indicative of the kind of person I would be moving forward. I chose to call her his ‘Former Wife.’ I'm not sure if it made a difference but it always kept my heart in the right place.
BEST WEDDING GIFT
A few days before our wedding I had dropped my future stepdaughter off at her Mom's after cheerleading practice. As we stood in the kitchen, Russ' former wife says "I've told the kids you will not be their stepmom (let me stop here for a second, surely this is the drama I feared would inevitably come.)
I took a deep breath and she continued saying "I told them you will be their "second mom." I'll never forget this moment. She then handed me a wedding gift. I took the bag and pulled out a Cheerleading sweatshirt with the words Mom on it. She chose to give me a sweatshirt with the words Mom on it??? How could someone be so generous with her children? Tears came immediately to my eyes.
There was a card included but I couldn't bear to read it because it was just as loving. I asked to read it later. If that wasn't enough she says one more thing, "I told Russ I would keep the kids one extra night when you get back from the honeymoon so you can enjoy the first night in your new house." I mean, c'mon, who is this woman? I didn't even think of the idea myself!
I know what some of you may be thinking...this was just the honeymoon phase. Everyone was on their best behavior. Yes, I thought so, too, but it's been over 19 years now and we still call each other friends. In fact, here is a previous Mother's Day facebook posting:
"Happy Mother's Day to you my friend. Our children are so blessed to have you as a mom and I am incredibly thankful that they have someone so wonderful in their life to love them. I am also blessed to call you friend...xoxoxo"
I replied: "You're an exceptional person to always have seen me as an addition and not as an intruder. I'm very grateful for our friendship. You're a fantastic mother who has modeled what love looks like! Happy Mother's Day!" - Danielle
How is your relationship with your spouse's former spouse? What have you done to make it amicable? I expected drama and it never showed up.
PS - Four years ago, Russ and I met a sweet couple through a married small group we attended. The wife recently told me that she didn't believe the aforementioned story about my relationship with Russ' Former Wife. She thought I was either lying or in deep denial. Earlier this year, she experienced a complete reversal in behavior with her Former Husband and is now able to reconcile how a relationship like this is possible. I can see how it's unbelievable and I won't pretend it was always easy but it certainly is possible when forgiveness exists and you put the children first.
TAKE A SNEAK PEEK
Learn new communication skills you can immediately apply in your marriage and some harder skills (with practice) that will transform your marriage.