Q: I have moved to the city where my ex lives. We divorced three years ago amicably. His ex-wife, who is also the mother of the now-adult I helped raise, has moved here too. Their son recently married, and I adore him and his wife.
I want to develop a relationship with them as a couple but also be respectful of the relationship they are developing with his parents. How do I love and support them but also make it easy for them to relate to all of their parents? I admit I wish I was the only "mother" in the picture.
Finding My Place
A: You are not the only parent in your stepson's life, and that's true whether it's a good or bad thing — so why not push yourself to see it as a good one?
It means there are more people to love him and his wife. More people to support him and his marriage. More people he can lean on in a crisis, or learn from on an ongoing basis.
We can quibble about whether it's good for you, versus good for your stepson, but it's so good for him to have all of you play nicely together that showing your love for him has a one-item to-do list: Do your part to play nicely.
And you know what? That can be good for you, too. For one thing, comity serves all, where being competitive and quick to take umbrage wins you nothing but stress.
Also, it's a community-builder. You have this young man and his wife as a common interest with your ex and your ex's ex, and while exiness is not typically seen as the beginning of beautiful friendships, it really can be — if you bring the right spirit to it and if the others do the same.
So please start your life in your new city with your heart open to this family-of-awkward-origin.
With a good attitude in place, it's easier to be mindful of boundaries and flexible in the face of everyone's needs. Kick it off with a conscious decision to be slow to take it personally when things don't go quite your way.