I knew I was in love with Andrew within the first week of our first date. He was quiet but funny, compassionate, and most importantly, the father of two daughters, Katie: 2, and Maggie: 6. I myself had two sons, Henry: 3, and Andrew: 6. It seemed almost too perfect.
Before I met his girls, I met his ex-wife Jenny just so she could see who would be in her girl’s life. We had a pleasant conversation, drank a margarita together, and actually hugged when we were leaving.
Then we got married… and that’s when everything changed!
Looking back, most of the issues could have been avoided, but when you are facing the awkwardness of remarriage and blending for the first time, you really have no idea what the heck you are doing. At least I didn’t. I entered the whole situation with rose-colored glasses thinking we would all get along and all that kumbaya stuff. That was a big fat no.
I had to not only deal with my husband’s struggle with communicating with his co-parent but also with his difficulty communicating with me regarding issues from her side. He was trying to protect me, but in reality, it just drew a moat of lava around us. Throw in a custody change request and that was the cherry on top of a difficult situation. It was so uncomfortable that he would just drop the girls off at the curb and watch them walk to the door, or just pull up in a parking lot and let them change cars. Absolutely no parental interaction between the two. Talk about awkward for both the adults and the kids!
This continued for 3 1/2 years until finally, Jenny and I started to communicate on our own. Then all the revelations started coming forward. It’s not that I didn’t want to be a part of the girl’s lives and activities, it’s just that my husband was “protecting” me from what he thought would be uncomfortable situations. In turn, it made me look like I didn’t care when in reality I just was unaware.
Jenny and I took matters into our own hands. We started texting daily. We communicated about all the things my husband was uncomfortable with which started to make him feel less awkward about it. They started talking in person and on the phone, which NEVER happened before. Jenny and I started having lunch together with the kids and forming an actual friendship together. By summer of 2017 we were all getting along so well that when our youngest became critically ill and hospitalized last September, it wasn’t weird that we had to sleep in a hospital together for 10 days straight. We hugged, cried, and made it through it together. TOGETHER. I never dreamed that would be a possibility. We even had Thanksgiving together last year at my house with Jenny, her husband, her mother, and brother together with my family as well. The girl’s said it was the best holiday ever.
Yes, even the most troubling co-parenting and divorce issues can have a happy ending. The most important thing we have learned is to communicate in an honest and respectful manner and to never assume or avoid. Some people call us the unicorns of ex-wife/new wife situations, and by golly, I will take it! Life is so much easier when the kids are happy and secure with their parent’s relationships.
Editor’s Note: Blended families and co-parenting relationships are all very unique and this is the personal experience of one blended family that found what works best for them. You have to find what works best for your family, communication is key.