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Co-Parenting Well: Sharing the Kids or Sharing your Husband?

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Typically in a blended family, the goal is to co-parent well. Regardless of the type of custody, most parties desire to get along well… at least well enough for peaceful conversations and uneventful trades.

Occasionally, blended families work really, really well together. They’re highly functioning, communicating often, and totally considerate of the other parties feelings in big (or small!) decisions. The exes are able to completely let bygones be bygones, and move forward as friends for the sake of their children. For big events, such as birthdays and major holidays, everyone comes together to celebrate. This huge blended family affair may include in-laws on all sides, a combination of biological and stepchildren, and a collaboration of secret family recipes, which make for the best parties on the block.

Co-Parenting Well: Sharing the Kids or Sharing your Husband?

The issue for stepmoms is that with strong co-parenting comes frequent access to your husband for the Ex. When the family wasn’t co-parenting well, the Ex only called your husband when there was something significant to talk about. (Or, maybe she called all the time, but it was just to nitpick over small parenting differences). There were more formal email interactions, more direct text messages. But now, once you’ve overcome so much and got to the point of highly-functioning, you suddenly may realize the Ex has crept her way back into your husband’s life in ways you weren’t expecting.

Once you start co-parenting well, your husband and the Ex may talk more without you knowing (because there was nothing dramatic to fill you in on, so he didn’t). They could discuss changes to the custody schedule and other decisions that impact you without your knowledge, because they feel like they “know how you will feel,” or maybe they just don’t think it’s necessary to loop you in. Your husband and the Ex may start sending pictures of the kids back and forth more frequently, or checking in on each other just to see how the day is going. There are likely never ill intentions, but it’s easy to feel excluded as a stepmom.

Most of this sounds innocent enough, right? After all, this was the goal… open communication and mutual understanding. But when things were high-conflict, you and your husband shared a common enemy. Your thoughts aligned because they were so dramatically different than the opposing parties. Your opinion was taken into account in all situations, big or small, because your husband wanted your support and advice on how to respond. Times were tough, but you were your husband’s confidante. Now, the tides have shifted.

Your second wife insecurities start to creep back up. You thought it was great co-parenting when you were the one sharing pictures with BM… but now your husband is taking pictures and thinking, “Oh, I bet [BM] would like this picture!” How dare he! You find out that the kids stayed home from school at the very end of the day and think, “Why am I just now hearing about this?” You get a text from BM in regards to something she and your husband had previously discussed, and you feel totally blindsided because you have no idea what she is talking about.

You suddenly feel like you are sharing your husband. You have had this man’s [mostly] undivided attention for so long, and now you feel like he’s torn. You cannot comprehend why he and his ex suddenly seem like actual friends. A world you once felt you had so much control over has come crashing down before you… all because everyone is getting along. How could this be?! What should you do?!

The answer is simple, and may surprise you.

Get over yourself, Mama.

This was the goal… I repeat… THIS. WAS. THE. GOAL. You didn’t really want to be the liaison between your husband and BM forever, did you? Why on earth is it a bad thing for your husband to take a picture of the kids and think their Mom may want a copy? That’s not a bad husband- that’s a great co-parent! Why would you need an immediate phone call if the kids stayed home from school with BM? It seriously does not matter. It is not a discussion you need to be involved in.

If you are in your feels about BM texting your husband to check in with him mid-week, then you were never co-parenting as successfully as you thought you were. Marriage is the ultimate test of trust. Marriage in a blended family, when your spouse has frequent communication with his ex, can be brutal. The negative feelings you are harboring, whether it’s about second-wife insecurities, fear of others’ intentions, or otherwise, can be chalked up to internal feelings that you can work on.

You cannot possibly feel 100% comfortable with the all highly-communicative co-parent relationship if you aren’t 100% confident in yourself first.

This is unlike any relationship you have had in the past. You do not have the option of banning your husband from speaking to his ex (and let’s be honest, banning your husband from anything is probably a disaster in the making).

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The harsh truth is, you are sharing your husband. You aren’t sharing him in your marriage- that’s exclusively something you share with him- but you are sharing the other parts of him. You are sharing his time between the kids, their mother, his job, his family… the list goes on. Blended family or not, that’s life and parenting in a nutshell.

You cannot control anyone other than yourself. If you are finding yourself upset about “how well things are going,” then I urge you to practice introspection, figure out what is triggering your insecurities, and tackle the beast. Stop self-sabotaging! Have a little confidence, Ladies! Your man is there to stay.

PS: More on what you can and can’t control here

10 thoughts on “Co-Parenting Well: Sharing the Kids or Sharing your Husband?”

  1. I respectfully disagree with this point of view. Co-parenting does not need to include “checking in on each other just to see how the day is going”. That is intrusive and frankly, unnecessary. It is about ensuring the best interests of the child are met, in a (hopefully) conflict-free parenting-only relationship. That can be done without excess communication, and there is no reason why a Stepmom shouldn’t be included or kept in the loop. After all, she is a StepMOM, and has a vested interest in the kids as well. You can’t bring a woman into a position to parent a child and then expect her to take a backseat because all of a sudden the birth parents are “co-parenting”. Her feelings should always matter and not be discounted.

    • Hey, Jamie! To clarify- I did not mean they should be checking in with each other throughout the week for personal matters… but what if they do? “Hey, how did your interview go?” Being secure in my marriage means I trust my husband and know his intentions are not ever to disrespect me. It should never be excessive (they’re ex’s for a reason, right?!) but an occasional check in is fine in my book. Each of our journey’s are unique… thank you for your feedback! I wish you the best <3

    • I absolutely agree with you 100%!!! I feel like all conversations should be about the child or children. You should not be asking your ex about their day, or any of that. T
      Especially if the father has moved on and is in a relationship, and that even goes for the mom, how would you think her new man would feel? Just like us stepmoms. That’s how insecurities start! You have your husband’s ex wife/girlfriend crossing boundaries. To me “perfect” co-parenting means, that you can have a respectful conversation about the kids and only the kids. I feel like conversations should be strictly about the kids and nothing else.

      • I appreciate your perspective, Onika! The purpose of this post is truly to challenge stepmom’s to let go of some of the negative energy we often- and unintentionally- bring to the table. It’s about letting go of the little things. <3

  2. I think this might be the first post from this particular blog that I’ve had a hard time getting through. Poorly written, and sounds more like and angry bio than an actual step mom.

    • I am sorry you feel this way! I am not writing from a bitter place, trust me. This is solely self-reflection and realizing that I do not need to be insecure about my husbands positive parenting with his ex wife! I wish you the best. <3

  3. Terribly written. “Second wife insecurities?” Lol. Sounds like something written by a bitter bio-mom.
    There is no such thing as a second wife. Current wife is the only wife. Anyone who goes around calling themselves a “first wife” obviously has not gotten over their divorce and the word “insecurity” seems far more appropriately applied.

    Any husband that doesn’t communicate important details to his WIFE is not being a good husband or a good communicator. To blame this on his wife is insane.
    There is a difference between contact for the sake of the kids and good co-parenting vs. boundary-crossing contact. A divorce turns the art of raising children together into a business-like relationship, and anything more is inappropriate.
    Hey, some people are ok with swinging or open relationships, so who am I to judge “co-parenting relationships” that take place behind the back of one’s spouse? It’s not for me, but maybe ok for the author and others. At the same time, it’s not ok for the author to suggest that everyone should be more “open-minded” about such relationships, because many people operate under the healthy assumption that scheduling and other major decisions that affect both spouses should be discussed by both spouses… regardless of whether it’s about scheduling dinner, vacations, or step-child events.

    A marriage is a partnership and the number one partnership.
    Accusing women of being “insecure” over what a spouse does behind their backs (especially if it affects their life) is akin to bullying someone into your own point of view.
    Author, I’m glad you are perfectly happy with a more “open” marriage, but don’t expect us all to lower our self esteem and blindly jump into your bandwagon.
    Raising children is important, butbso is a healthy marriage with communication and trust.

    • Mea, I am happy to hear you have never faced any second wife insecurities. In speaking with stepmom’s around the world, that tends to be their #1 concern and road block as they try to navigate their blended family, especially in the early years. Additionally, I have a tremendous amount of trust and respect for my husband, which is why I do not let it bother me whenever he speaks to BM… regardless of what the topic is. Our journey’s are unique, and I hope that whatever works for you and your husband is healthy and is fostering a lifetime marriage. Best of luck, I wish you the best! <3

  4. I also struggle with this article. My husband and I have a very healthy co-parenting relationship with his ex-wife and her husband. We talk at sporting events, are perfectly friendly, and they communicate by text about my stepdaughter with relative frequency. Only about once a year does a big blowup about an issue come up between him and BM, but it usually blows over. However, I think it is a bit presumptive to say a stepmom should just get over “extra/unnecessary” conversation between her husband and his ex-wife. I am very confident in my relationship and have never considered myself a second wife. I actually hate the phrase. But that doesn’t mean I’ve never been insecure. There was a lot of love between those people at one point, and personal interactions CAN be hurtful. Besides, I know my husband would never presume to take on that kind of a relationship with his ex because of my role in his life, and I don’t think husbands who do are truly considering their wife’s feelings, regardless of the strength/security of the relationship. Further, while day-to-day decisions between the two may not necessarily need the stepmom’s input, it is still important to keep her in the loop. She helps run the household too. Ultimately, not all blended families are the same, and while it’s great that some do combined birthdays/holidays, not all do, even when they’re successfully co-parenting. So I think it’s an overstep to say all stepmoms should be okay with frequent/personal communication between her husband and his ex… in many situations that is not okay and they can co-parent well without it.

    • Hey, Liz! I appreciate your perspective. I agree- the “highly integrated blended family” sharing birthdays and holidays is not realistic (or healthy) in all situations (mine included). Additionally, whatever is triggering our individualized insecurities, it’s important we face them and compromise with our spouses to find a solution that works for everyone. I am glad to hear it seems like you and your husband have done that. I wish you the best! <3

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