If you talk to a divorced, remarried woman long enough, guaranteed you will hear about the new stepmother or the old wife. It seems to come with the territory. Tell someone who you are a stepmother and you will be asked how you get along with the ex within the first hour. I suspect that ex-wives get the look of compassionate understanding at the notion that there is a stepmother on the scene.
Besides the fairy tale of the evil stepmother that is firmly entrenched in our minds, there are actually good reasons for the ex-wife to dislike the stepmother. Consider these three reasons.
1. We are a replacement.
No matter what the circumstance of your partner's divorce, no one likes to feel replaced. No one likes to feel as if they can be replaced. Yet, there is something about the second wife or second partner that just feels as if you have been replaced. It is human nature to feel as if we are all special and irreplaceable, so a stepmother just makes the first wife feel 'less than'. It may be an unconscious thought, but it is there. In addition, the competitive thoughts immediately manifest themselves. Who is prettier? Smarter? Better cook? More successful? On and on and on...The ex-wife feels the need to prove that she is better.
2. We may know their dirt.
Ex-wives assume that our partner has told us terrible things about them. Immediately, a defensive shield is raised. Worse than hearing terrible things, the ex-wife wonders, " What else does she know?" Has our partner told us about their private lives? Their darkest secrets? Their sex lives? How horrible is it to think that a stranger knows your life? Worse than that, they believe that whatever story has been told to us is wrong and put them in an appalling light.
3. Who Wants Someone Else Having an Influence Over Our Children?
Intellectually, everyone knows that children have deep love for their mothers. But, in almost all cases, Mom does not know the stepmother well. She certainly does not know the stepmother well enough to hand over her children! Who would feel comfortable doing that? Yet, we are shocked when Mom is totally freaked out that there is another woman playing a role in their children's lives. Mom does not know our value systems, our parenting skills, or even if we will be a positive force in the children's lives. We just expect her to just accept and embrace us. Is that fair?
Maybe, we should give that ex-wife a little slack. When we give slack to the ex, we give ourselves a break. We do not have to do the heavy lifting and we do not have to be perfect. A little compassion can go a long way.