Patience Is Fearless Non-Aggression
by childless stepparent
Pema Chodron tells us that patience is fearless non-aggression. Dealing with my husband’s former wife has given me a powerful opportunity to practice this kind of patience. For that I am truly grateful.
My husband and I were mindful about slowly integrating me into his daughter’s life. It’s essential that she feel safe and loved and listened to around me.
It’s important that my husband’s daughter feel comfortable loving her mom around me. Of course neither my husband nor I ever say anything negative about his former wife in front of his daughter. When she talks about her mom, I listen in a friendly way. I’ve gone so far as to help her make gifts for her mom for Mother’s Day, birthdays, and holidays.
I was patient and let my husband’s daughter come to me, and when she did, I shared my interests with her: taking her to art and cultural events that I love. My husband would then receive irate messages from his former wife demanding that he “tell that woman to back off.” This would be followed by an aggressive request that I be more involved in helping with her daughter’s homework. Very confusing. What am I allowed to do, expected to do, and forbidden from doing?
The fact is: I am a positive presence in my stepdaughter’s life. My husband’s former wife does not determine how I interact with my stepdaughter. That’s for my husband and me to decide. We make that decision mindfully and with gentleness, based on what’s best for his daughter.
Difficulties arise less and less now that I’ve stepped back, aligned myself with my husband, and let him handle everything with his former wife.
I no longer insert myself into the situation. I direct my attention inward. I no longer push away the messy stuff. I turn and look at it, face it head-on.
I take a step back. I breathe. And then I let it go.
Manifesto #4 | 4. My husband chose his former wife to be his child’s mother. He must take responsibility for the consequences of that choice for himself and his daughter.
Manifesto #5 | Whatever dynamic exists between my husband and his former wife does not involve me. They must work together for their child’s benefit.
Manifesto #6 | I will be kind to my stepchild. I will support my husband in his role as her dad. I will contribute – on my own terms.