Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Stepmoms and Extended Families

For years my husband’s family sent Christmas cards addressed to him and me that were filled with writing about DH’s ex-wife. “So glad to hear about [BM’s] new job. So glad to hear how well [BM] is doing.” I remember dreading those little read envelopes. It felt like they were gently shoving me out, like they were trying to recreate some perfect previous family that I was not a part of.

For years, whenever I happened to be home when DH’s mother phoned, she spent much of her calls talking about his ex. It was so frustrating. After all, I had been living with her son for years. Why wasn’t she asking about me? Why didn’t she want to get to know me?

Frustrated with waiting for his family to approach me, I started being the one to communicate to them. I began sending them little emails here and there to say hi, letters about what everyone had been up to, and pictures of DH, SD, and I together as a family. I’m pleased that our relationship is now growing slowly but surely.

My experience establishing myself as part of DH’s family has been especially difficult given the fact that they live in another country, but I’m sure it also has a lot to do with me being wife #2.

From what I’ve read, it’s pretty common for extended families to be slow to welcome stepmoms into the fold. Having seen wife #1 come and go, they may see us as replaceable. Or, they may still have loyalty to the ex-wives and see us as interlopers.

Has anything similar happened to you? I’m interested in hearing about your experiences.

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