Catfight…dealing with insecurities

The topic of insecurities has been directly or indirectly mentioned in several posts and comments, that I felt the need to thoroughly address it. It is no secret that discord in a blended family can stem from insecurities from either the ex or current wife or both. And, as we all know, the blended family functions much better when the ex and current wife are working together and getting along. The questions that still remain, however, are; 1) Why can’t women seem to get along? 2) Why are we so vicious to one another??

It sickens me to believe that long ago, the women before us were able to collaboratively strive for success in the arenas of political activism and social justice. When they told us we couldn’t vote we banned together. We also banned together to demand our respect amongst our male counterparts in corporate America. Yet, when it comes to what should be most important to us, our blended families, we just can’t seem to work together, or just refrain from trying to tear each other completely down.

Jealously is a common factor in competition among women and insecurities grab hold of many of us. We want what she [current wife] has. We want the attention she is getting. We may feel like we deserve it more than she does. We feel the need to fight to prove that we are better. By that same token, women feel the need to fight to hold on to what she has. We throw it in the faces of the other woman [ex-wife] that we have what she couldn’t hold on to.

With that said, fear on the ex-wife’s behalf can also create an enormous amount of tension within the blended family. The confusion and fear usually displays itself in the form of insecurities which sometimes causes the ex-wife to act out. Through my posts about my ex I have been more than honest about feeling hurt once he remarried. It wasn’t because I wanted him back because I had also moved on. It was because for so many years he was all I had known.  We spent years together even before we had our son. We had a child together, and we had planned to spend the rest of our lives together. I didn’t plan on having to deal with all of the issues that a blended family faces. I didn’t want my son’s family to be broken.The mere idea of starting over was enough to make me want to run back to a relationship that I knew wasn’t good for either of us. It was scary! And, if we are all honest with ourselves, many of us have had these feelings when it comes to the demise of our relationships with men that we have children with. This is why I often say I can relate to the feelings that an ex-wife feels when she’s finally faced with the fact that she’ll never have her family together again. What I don’t condone, however, is acting on those impulses.

All of my second moms have a few insecurities that they often deal with, too. For some, it’s hard to see their husband have to what they perceive as catering to another woman, his ex-wife.  Some can’t even deal with it when he’s friendly towards her and performs simple gestures such as an innocent hug. It symbolizes that he once loved this other woman (who is also the mother of his child(ren) that they will all be forever connected to. Of course we know that our husbands had a past before us, but let’s be honest, it’s much easier to deal with when you aren’t confronted with that past on a regular basis.

I want to acknowledge both the ex and current wife’s insecurities by affirming that they are completely normal. It doesn’t mean that you are an overall insecure woman; you’re just human. Dealing with a failed relationship is like grieving the loss of an entire life that you once knew, but will never have again. That’s hard to deal with. Additionally, feeling like you have to fight to hold on to a family that you love so dearly due to the insecurities and issues of an ex-wife, is also alot to deal with. Once you accept these feelings as normal you won’t feel like you have to defend your position.

So, I encourage both my current and ex-wives to acknowledge their own fears. Why do you feel threatened or upset with the current wife? If you are blaming her for the demise of your marriage, realize in most cases (except for adulturous situations) your marriage was over before she came along. And realistically, you had to have known that your ex-husband wasn’t going to be single forever or even just until you found someone.  And for my second wives, why might you feel threatned or upset with the ex-wife? Understand that the prior relationship did not succeed and, therefore, is not a threat to your current relationship. You should rely on your husband (and hold him responsible) to honor and protect your marriage, even where the ex-wife is concerned; instead of focusing on what she might be doing to tear it apart.

“There are many things that we would throw away if we weren’t so afraid that others might pick them up.” ~Oscar Wilde

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Comments

  1. familyblend says:

    I think the one insecurity I had and it was just a small insecurity, but not long after I married Randy, we decided that we wanted to have a child together. I had previously tied my tubes when my little boy was born but they were able to put them back together through surgery. We were approved for the surgery, financially funded, etc. and I was told that I had to have an emergency hysterectomy.

    Where my insecurity came in (and although after she reads this entry she will probably call me and tell me I am crazy ;o)) but for some reason I had a sick feeling in my stomach and I cried for days because I thought my husband would leave me and want his ex-wife back because they shared their daughter and I couldn’t give him one. I felt very insecure but I also cried because I felt shamed for feeling that way about my friend. I felt very childish as well because I was even thinking of not having the surgery and risking my own health in the meantime. Julie (my husband’s ex) helped me through being more sound-minded about going ahead with the surgery although she never knew what I was worried about. I didn’t have these feelings because she ever made me feel insecure, she didn’t, she is exactly the opposite as a matter-of-fact. She is happily remarried with two other children. But, I just felt that jealousy because I love my husband and I wanted to share that feeling with him, but I couldn’t. I know what it feels like to have that bond and I couldn’t.

    I just wanted to share this because even though I had no reason to worry, I allowed it to enter my mind and make me feel insecure just because my husband was married before me. And, when I think in depth about Kela’s post, I realize that my husband wouldn’t be the man and father he is today to his daughter and to my little boy had he not shared his experience with Julie first. Realizing that, to me, was a part of acceptance on my part and knowing that I never have to feel that way again.

    Anyway, I thought I would share, even though I am completely embarrased about it.

    Peace and Blessings,

    Diane

  2. blendingin says:

    Don’t be embarrassed, Di, as it’s another completely normal feeling. Many second wives who don’t have children with their husbands feel that because their husband and his ex-wife will be forever bonded with a child; they too need that same type of validation where their relationship is concerned. Love is simply not enough to join two people together, in their mind. After all, it wasn’t enough to keep their husbands with their ex-wives, but a child means that they will always be in each other’s life. I can see how a second wife would arrive at this conclusion and feel insecure. I have felt this way before as well. It’s not that I long for more children because I wouldn’t be heartbroken if I didn’t have anymore. But, I did feel like I needed to have that experience [pregnancy] with this man that I love so much. But, my wonderful husband (this is the key…a supportive, understanding, loyal, loving husband) made me realize that a marriage is about love, respect, loyalty and many other things. It’s an institution that should exist separately from children. Meaning, children should not be the reason a marriage is held together. After all, there are so many marriages that don’t include biological children or children at all, and they more than thrive. The fact that we don’t need a child or anything else to hold our marriage together speaks volumes about the love that we share. Besides, you don’t want your husband to feel obligated to stay with you. You want him there because that’s where he wants to be.

  3. familyblend says:

    Amen. Thanks, Kela. I do often admire people that I know through my work environment, etc. that have no children but have been married many many years and are happily married and wouldn’t want it any other way. As I discussed my comment with Julie earlier today, I told her that most of the reason why I think I felt this way was because my ability to produce a child with my current husband was pretty much taken away from me so quickly that I allowed thoughts of insecurity to play a part for a moment. All I have ever known since the age of 19 was being a mother. So, when something is all you know, then it’s hard to put it to rest so to speak and I was allowing my thoughts to become insecurity in a way. Luckily, I had enough sense not to allow that to become a problem between me and my husband or me and my husband’s ex-wife. I never saw it as something wrong on her part, but I wanted to share this with the readers because I can see that maybe an insecurity like this one could make a second wife “dislike” or “pre-judge” an ex-wife.

  4. I loved that quote at the end, very fitting and true!

  5. “It sickens me to believe that long ago, the women before us were able to collaboratively strive for success in the arenas of political activism and social justice. When they told us we couldn’t vote we banned together. We also banned together to demand our respect amongst our male counterparts where work life is concerned. Yet, when it comes to what should be most important to us, our blended families, we just can’t seem to work together, or just refrain from trying to tear each other completely down.”

    Very well said. And very true. Keep up the excellent writing.

  6. blendingin says:

    Thanks, Susan! I so greatly appreciate you taking the time to even read it, let alone comment.

    Kela

  7. This is a great post, girls. It’s so funny how your posts are always timely to what’s going on in my life…right now dealing with the ex’s insecurities. I wish she’d just realize that I am NOT, nor do I want to be her enemy, nor replace her in any way, shape or form.

    I think my only insecurity lies with not being accepted by my husband’s family, whom still has a very active relationship with his ex. I am so sad that they’re not big enough people to have a relationship with both her and me. I don’t want them to choose, but I would like them to be more respectful to my husband and me.

    Keep up the great posts!!!!

  8. Thanks, Stacy!

    Hmmm…breaking the ties with extended family members in the blended family is always tough one. Some extended family members feel as if they shouldn’t have to cease their relationships with the ex-spouse just because their family member divorced her. In some cases, true friendships might have been formed. On my father’s side of the family we have many sets of blended families. As a result, biological connections aren’t required in order to embrace a family member and once we’ve embraced you, you’re family forever. Having said that, we make a concerted effort to respect all of the current spouses. Sometimes ex-spouses are invited to family gatherings, but not without the approval of current spouses. And, most times those ex-spouses decline the invitation out of respect for the current spouse. I might also add that these individuals are much older at this point. Their children are grown and gone and there are no unresolved issues between ex-spouses. I would never suggest doing this with a newly developed blended family. If there are family members that desire to continue a relationship with an ex-spouse [in a newly developed blended family], I’d suggest doing it on their own time.

    At any rate, I find it sad that your husband’s family can’t find a way to have a relationship with you both, too! This proves that divorce is hard on EVERYONE; not just the spouses and the children. I know it’s hard, but try not to take it too personally. Have you tried reaching out to any of them?

  9. I have tried reaching out to them, which ended up in a horrible confrontation with my husband’s step-mother. What I realized in this confrontation was that her issues had NOTHING to do with me, it was a lot of old anger that just happened to get dumped on me.

    Anyway, I am trying to have relationships with the people in his family that will have me, and I will not harbor ill will, bitterness or resentments. But my husband has pretty much washed his hands of his bio-dad and step-mother, so I’ve done the same.

    The problem is obvious that there’s a blatant lack of respect from the ex and the bio-dad/step-mom. It’s so sad to me that people can not act like adults!

    Thanks for your reply. =)

  10. blendingin says:

    It’s sad, but in order to remain sane sometimes you have to have that SO WHAT mentality; especially when you know that you’ve done all that you can do to make the situation better. It’s good that you are not harboring any resentment towards them. Doing so only prevents you from leading and living a happy and fulfilled life. I remember being told that the best way to get ‘revenge’ on people who wrong you is to BE HAPPY!

  11. Frankly, I do not see that a blended family was ever an intended to be an easily manageable design.

    I am part of two of them…. one with my kids and the other with my wife’s kids. They are both hugely complex. There are so many emotional threads woven through the situations. Including but not limited to…

    My new wife’s insecurity as the second wife.
    My former wife’s insecurity of my new wife’s appearance.
    My disdain for the self-serving guy who interefered with my first marriage.
    My kids’ confusion over why Mom ran off with the “Other man”.
    My kids confusion over the fact that Dad still displays hurt even though seemingly happily remarried.
    My new wife’s kids feelings of loss and confusion over Mom remarrying and Dad co-habitating.

    How can blended families be anything other than a formula for complexity. Women feeling insecurities amongst women is nothing new. Especially where they may be competing for the affection/attention of men or the kids involved.

    My ex-wife attempts to control matters through avoidance. let me tell you… that is complex and painful! Rather than us (indcluding my new wife) having big dust-ups over plans around the kids, we are just left with a lot of unanswered phone calls and emails. Then she lets us know what she has planned for us and what we are allowed to have.

    Stakes are high in blended families. Relational, emotional, financial, and more. Everything is emotionally charged to the hilt.

    I am doing my best to accept that I am part of two blended families. And by and large they are going well. Yet, the complexities show themselves every day. In my view, blended families were never Plan A. Plan A in my book is for families to stay together. There are more resources available today than ever to save a marriage, deal with issues, and most importantly, save a family. Yet we are still looking at a 50% divorce rate so things are not necessarily getting any better fast.

    So the next best thing to do is to work the best Plan B possible. And I guess the purpose of posts like this is to help share and communicate on how to make Plan B’s work.

    Anyway…. saw your post and thought I would stop by.

    Ciao. Chaz

  12. blendingin says:

    Thanks for your comments, Chaz! I totally agree that blended families are definitely not an easily manageable design. However, the divorce rate continues to soar so we are left with almost 87% of families that are blended, and even the divorce rate for second marriages is continually on the rise. As such, the purpose of this blog is to relay experiences regarding what works and what doesn’t so that we are able to keep families from deconstructing a second time around. You’re right, we are trying to share and communicate on how to make Plan B work as most of our Plan A’s have already failed.

    Again, thanks so much for your comments and stop by anytime!

  13. No problem Blend…. this is actually a great blog to add to my list of followup reading.

    I did not mean to sound hostile in my reply. I am sure you all recognize the emotional charge of blended family issues…. thus the existence of this site.

    I guess my situation remains painful. I miss my kids and my ex uses every opportunity and excuse to control the situation to her favour and then represents it as “what the kids want”.

    Yet, she refused to seek counseling to save our marriage, refused to go to mediation or get any kind of third-party professional input. She just chooses to control and when the things are not to her liking, she avoids. It frankly is agony.

    The fact that I spun out on drugs (uncharacteristically) when she showed up with another man is of course a complicating issue. However, I have been clean and sober for a number of years. I functioned at a very high level through my spin-out.

    It does not make it any easier that the other man is the former neighbour who left his wife for mine mere weeks after we separated. It does not help that they were having an emotional affair for years before we separated.

    But even the judge that presided over our divorce case ordered us to start dialogue. Unfortunately, it would only be enforcable if one of us made issue of it. My ex knows that to do so would be bloody expensive so she just avoids.

    This contrasts sharply with my current wife’s situation where she and her ex speak daily regarding their kids. In fact, I have got to know him and he is a decent guy in my experience and interaction. I am able to speak highly of him to my step kids and support the rules he and my wife set for the kids. It does work if the adults are willing to be adults.

    Anyway… will cruise by again.

    Ciao.

    Chaz

  14. Chaz, no need to apologize for your first comment as I completely understand the need to let it all out at times.

    Your situation is indeed complicated. Unfortunately, however, many other divorced couples experience the same communication and control issues when it comes to co-parenting. My husband and his ex-wife have continued to battle each other for the past 8 years, and she, too, uses the child as a means of controlling the situation to make sure it works out in her favor. Although there has been a visitation order in place since the divorce, she chooses to deviate from, modify or ignore it altogether when she gets upset for whatever reason. It is sad because the only ones who truly suffer are the children.

    I’m so sorry because I know that you miss your children. I’ve witness the agony that my husband suffers because his place in his son’s life has been reduced to visitor status instead of the involved father that he once was. I no longer am quick to pass judgment on the fathers who aren’t involved in their child’s life. All disinterested fathers aren’t deadbeat dads. Some are fathers who have just grown tired of continually fighting for a little place in their child’s life. Some resort to drugs or alcohol because they feel helpless. Some resort to kidnapping, and the list goes on. I’m not condoning these things, but I do understand how it could get to that point. I wish more mothers could separate the divorce from co-parenting and not punish the children in an effort to punish their ex-spouse. It really is as simple as that.

    Chaz, I could tell you to seek family mediation; go to court to get the parenting time order enforced; or simply try talking to her, but I’m pretty sure you’ve done all of that. So, at the end of the day it is best to find peace in the midst of your current circumstances while doing what you can to remain involved. Call your children EVERYDAY! Send them little thinking of you gifts and they don’t have to be expensive. If they have email addresses, email them regularly. My husband has gone 6 months without seeing his son (she wouldn’t allow him to) and you wouldn’t believe how much the little things help to remind him that daddy is still there. Now, that he is able to, he calls my husband on a very regular basis because my husband sowed the seed. Lastly, try to let go of your own anger regarding the dissolution of your marriage. I’m sure it certainly wasn’t fair, but what’s done is done. You’ve both moved on with other spouses and now your focus must be on co-parenting effectively. It’s hard to do that when you are harboring any type of resentment for past actions. I hope it works out for you, Chaz. Again, stop by anytime and leave a comment. We are always interested in the father’s perspective.

    Happy New Year!

    ~Kela

  15. Chaz, I’m glad you commented. It’s nice to read things from a male’s perspective in the blended family scenario.

  16. Thanks Stacy.

    Likewise for me to hear women’s perspectives.

    I guess any insights we can get into the complex world of co-parenting after divorce are helpful. I had no idea the journey would be so challenging. It is far more manageable with dialogue with fellow journeyors.

    Will keep watching the blog and jump in where relevant.

    Have a great NY.

    Ciao. Chaz

  17. familyblend says:

    Chaz,

    My computer has been down at home and I just logged on at work and saw your comments. I, too, appreciate your comments. I have a blended family as well except for the fact that I have no problems on my side of the fence with my ex. My ex is only the father of one of my boys and my other two boys’ father passed away. The ex has only seen his son 3 times since 1996, not to my doing, but the three times were because of my encouragement. I think it’s sad that you are a loving, caring father and you want to see and miss your children and your ex takes you through such unnecessary changes. Some children (like my son) have a parent that doesn’t care whether he sees his son or not. My son will be 20 in April and it’s sad, but he holds on the once in a while phone calls that his dad makes to him and pretends like he has always been in his life. On the flip side of all of this, I am a stepmother and am best friends with my husband’s ex wife so I know exactly what you mean by having one side fine and the other uncomfortable.

    Thanks for giving us your perspective.

    Diane

  18. Thank you for your submission to the advice for women from women blog carnival.

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