How to Build a Healthy Relationship with your Ex’s New Partner
Divorce ends marriages. It does not necessarily end relationships, especially not when there are children involved. In fact, it can lead to new relationships and not necessarily ones that you’ll like, at least not at first.
The fundamental purpose of divorce is to allow individuals to move on with their lives and in many cases, that’s going to involve finding new partners. These new partners are probably going to play an important role in your children’s lives, so as a minimum, it will be very helpful to have a good working relationship with them.
Here are some hints as to how to make this happen.
Try to see the situation from their point of view
Your ex’s new partner is not a parent to your children, but they are going to be seeing a lot of them so it’s best for all concerned (including you) that they have a good relationship with them.
What this means in practice will depend on a lot of factors. For some people, it will essentially be a case of, “OK you do your thing and I’ll do mine and we’ll just accept each other”.
Others will want to be more involved with your children’s lives, seeing them as an extension of their partner and in some cases, your ex’s new partner may need to be more involved with your children’s lives to resolve childcare issues.
Clear your mind of any “wicked stepmother/stepfather” images
Yes there are some bad people out there and yes there are certainly instances where new partners are abusive towards children from a previous relationship.
In reality, however, this is a tiny minority of people. The vast majority of people try to be at least reasonable to children even if they’re not actively fond of them.
Where issues might arise is where a new partner is inexperienced with children in general and/or when your children play up, either inadvertently or deliberately, because they resent the new partner, not necessarily because of anything the new partner has done but because they are not you.
Work your ex’s new partner into your “rulebook” for dealing with your children
There is absolutely no point in denying reality and a whole lot to be said for just accepting it and seeing what you can do to make it work for you and your children (and your ex and their new partner too).
First of all, you need to work out the extent to which your ex’s new partner is willing to be involved in your children’s lives. This may change over time, but since your arrangements for looking after your children will need to be reassessed periodically anyway, this shouldn’t be an issue. Then you can start looking at the practicalities of accommodating everyone’s preferences, at least as far as possible.
If you approach this exercise with an open mind, you may actually find that your ex’s new partner could actually be a major benefit to everyone, especially if they are able and willing to take on some child-caring responsibilities. You may even come to see them as a valued friend.
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