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There is a complexity in new familial arrangements that requires adjustment from all members. Your children are stressed by the physical and psychological changes that preceded and result from their family-system reorganization. Your ex is adjusting to life with a new family.

Then there's you. Things may not have worked out as you planned. One thing is certain; life after divorce is in flux, and you don't have control over many of the changes. But there are things you can control. Attitude is one. There are, and will be, ongoing changes and negotiations you didn't count on. You are adjusting to sharing parenting roles with a person (and possibly ex-partner) who may not welcome (or may resent) your presence. You might be adjusting to having the children out of your home (and under your wing) for days, weeks, or months at a time. You may also be in the midst of deciding which battles to engage, and which to leave alone. You may find yourself feeling more possessive, and even obsessive, about your children, calling your ex's home daily to check on your kids, wondering what's going on. Resentment and frustration can build, and you may have difficulty shielding the children from your emotions.

It may be tempting to share your anger and frustration with your children, but spare them. It is in your best interest to encourage a positive relationship between yourself and the step-parent which can only benefit your children (and likely keep your health intact). Deal with your own feelings, especially if you feel like you are being left behind. Talk with others, seek counseling, plan events or sign up for a class, volunteer to serve meals at a shelter, or work out at the gym during the times that are most likely going to trigger your longing for your children (early evening, most likely). You must learn to go with the flow lest you become hopelessly mired in your own anger, regrets, or disappointments. Also, remember, these relationships will evolve over time and your entire life choices are not to be determined by what your ex is doing in his life.

Your children may have mixed feelings, among them, confusion. At times they may feel relief, and at other times guilt for feeling relief. If your children are angry, give them the room to express their feelings without fear of repercussions. Let them talk about the new family, but don't join in their negativity; hard as it may be, try to empathize with them. They may like their step-mother but may feel disloyal to you if they allow that feeling in. Regardless of how you feel, be mindful about not allowing your feelings to determine how your child feels about the new relationships.

Although it can be extremely challenging, make an effort to develop a working relationship with the new step-parent. Most likely there will be times when your ex is unavailable and you will need to make visitation arrangements or discuss potential problems pertaining to the children with his new wife. Look for common ground. Developing a cordial relationship with her can make it easier to feel less as the 5th wheel and more as the primary parent that you are.

 

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3 comments

  • Comment Link Guest Monday, 30 January 2012 18:43 posted by Guest

    Been there: The biggest reason you are having those feelings are due to the sexual soul ties you made with him while being husband and wife. And thanks for opening my eyes as to why his ex called him as many as 14 times a day (not kidding) on the weekends we had the kids. That figure went down drastically when she remarried, but she still texts fairly often. I know she loves them, but if you are going to agree to a divorce, the first thing you have to think about is "Do I want to share my children with the new spouse and that new spouse's famiy.

  • Comment Link Michelle Thursday, 22 December 2011 14:07 posted by Michelle

    feeling is mutual: I am having the same issue. Both myself and my ex have significant others and have pretty much moved on(on his part). I have so many thoughts going thru my head on a daily basis. I am not sure which is worse...when they are at his house and they are spending time as a family, my family or when they are with me, I think about what the are doing...I feel stupid, I cry because I want my family back whether it was toxic or not but that is my family. She gets to share my children's laughter and good times with them. I feel so lost because our divorce is final and I don't have a family, my last name isn't my last name anymore, my husband isn't my husband anymore. Although my feelings are not fair to my boyfriend, but I feel I have to keep trudging through day to day because eventually those thoughts will not be there forever. I will eventually not waking up in the middle of the night because of the picture of my family falling apart haunts me.

  • Comment Link Guest Sunday, 31 July 2011 11:29 posted by Guest

    Managing Emotions in a New Blended Family: Okay, my almost ex has been seeing a woman since about two months after I moved out. After some counseling, I was the one to finally call it quits. Why isn't relevant here. So, it's been 5 months and now it looks as though his girlfriend will be around most of the time when the kids are there. I can honestly say, it didn't bother me that my ex to be had a girlfriend so soon, once I actually hoped he'd find a woman and leave! Anyway, what I can't get out of my brain is the fact that my kids will be spending time with another woman and it's not me. I'm jealous that she gets time with them and I don't. I know I will use her as my alli, to buffer things between my ex and myself. I know the kids are happy, safe, and probably eating healthier, but I can't stop thinking of my ex, his girlfriend, and my kids being one happy blended family. I feel left out maybe....I also know I will always be my kids mom, but someone please give me advice on how to get myself out of thinking about "all of them together." Help, I don't sleep much.