To anyone going through a custody battle, understand that it will hurt like hell when your ex gets married. Even if it’s been years since you were together and the breakup was for the best, seeing your ex marry someone else is hard. Rest assured, you will find someone else. If your fear is that you will spend your life alone while they enjoy a happy family, fear not. First of all, if you want to find someone else to share your life with, you will. Don’t feel you need to hurry and get into a new relationship just because they did. Don’t pressure your girlfriend/boyfriend to marry you just because your ex has married.
You may feel displaced by the new spouse and feel they have taken your place as your children’s new parent. Don’t be afraid of this. Often the mind can create situations that are far removed from reality. You may imagine this happy smiling family (minus you) and your child gazing lovingly as his new “mother” or swinging happily on the swings with her new “father.” This is often not the case. Your ex and his new family have the same problems as any other family. They get stressed at work, they get angry at each other, they feel lonely sometimes, just as you do. Your children may like this new “stepparent.” This is okay. As a matter of fact, this is a good thing. Nothing is worse for a child than feeling like they are unwanted. Think of it this way–your ex is going to be in a relationship or marriage with this other person whether you like it or not. Would you rather that partner treat your child in a mean and cruel way, making him feel insecure and sad? Or would you rather they be a good friend to your child, making them feel wanted and included? It may be a hard pill to swallow, but your child may like the stepparent.
But if you remember nothing else, remember this:
YOUR CHILD WILL NEVER LOVE ANOTHER PERSON THE WAY THEY LOVE YOU. This is especially true for mothers. You share a bond with your child that nobody can break. You carried that child in your womb and you have a special bond that is virutally unbreakable. No amount of time or absence will change that. With my older child, I remember being able to sense when she was upset, even when I was at work and she was at daycare. When she was nursing, I would fill up with milk almost immediately before she would wake up to be fed. My body knew when my baby was ready to eat. That’s proof of God, if I’ve never seen it.
A child knows his mother or his father and will never love any substitute parent as she loves you. Make sure you remain an active part of your child’s life so that they know you love them and that you have not been replaced.
But what if my child calls him “Daddy, or Mommy?”
Well, first of all, your ex should not allow this. This is confusing to children. Children should have a different name that they refer to their stepparent as. The titles Mom and Dad should be reserved for the parent only. However, if your ex makes your child call his or her partner Mom or Dad, know that your child is only doing this to appease the other parent. They still know that you are their only Mom or Dad.
If your ex is not married to their partner, your child DEFINITELY should not be calling them Mom or Dad. Talk to your ex and express your concern over this. With 50% of marriages ending, the high breakup rate of cohabitating couples who later marry and the instability of dating relationships, your child should not be considering your unmarried partner a parent at all. They should be considered a friend or your ex’s partner, never a parent.
There is life after divorce, even though it may not seem like it now.