If you've read the book, STEPWIVES, and its helped you understand your stepwife better, improved your relationship with your stepwife, or just given you the hope that your situation can improve, we'd love to hear from you. Please email us at:
Stepmother. Ex-wife. Just the words are enough to make anybody roll their eyes, take a deep breath, and offer their condolences. But no matter which one you are, stepmother or ex-wife, once you've assumed one of these roles, the two of you are in each other's lives, for better or for worse. What exactly is your relationship?
To date, no name has been given to this relationship that millions of women are involved in. To answer this need, we've created the word stepwife. And since you're reading this book, you are probably a stepwife yourself, trying to make sense of the confusion caused when two women have been married to the same man.
We are stepwives: the ex-wife and current wife of the same man, mother and stepmother to the same child, destined to drag each other through the happiest and saddest occasions life presents. We've even been cursed with the same initials.
Had you asked us even a few years ago if we would ever willingly be in the same room, let alone write an entire book together, our answer would have been a simultaneous, "No way!" We were two women who loathed each other, locked in an intense battle for power and position for over a decade. Even after Lynne married Paul, our situation still did not get better. There seemed to be no way out.
Through it all, somehow we managed to put our (step)son, Evan, first, rarely behaving badly in front of him. In fact, teachers and parents would continually remark on just how civilized we were, how well adjusted he was. Little did they realize it was a completely different story behind closed doors. Then we let each other know just what our true feelings were and how much we hated being in each other's lives.
The stepwife relationship is ongoing and inescapable. No matter what you do, your stepwife is here to stay. And although we cannot make her go away, we can help you figure out how to handle having her in your life, even if it feels hopeless, even if you've been embroiled in an ugly battle for many years. It is never too late for it to get better.
Our book looks at this life from both sides: two women struggling to raise a child together in two different homes. We've opened up our private lives and the lives of others like us. Any woman who has ever heard the word stepmother or ex-wife will find this compelling reading. As we share the dimensions of our conflict, from the anger to the acceptance, mothers and stepmothers will appreciate that although they too may collide, they need not shatter. In fact, they can move beyond life as they now know it into a whole new world: the world of CoMamas -- women who have learned to co-parent in a healthy, respectful manner.
So how did we do it? The miracle happened when one of us called the other to apologize after another battle. In that brief moment of truce, we found we actually agreed on something: Our situation had become unbearable, and we needed to change it.
To confirm our suspicions that other stepwives were also battling, we developed a Web site. Thousands of women all over the world have visited our site and told us their own horror stories about their stepwives. Their stories helped us and psychologist and marriage/family therapist Marjorie Krausz develop our step-by-step program, the PRESCRPTON, and later consult privately with stepwives and their men, conduct seminars and support groups, and write this book.
As the book evolved, with Dr. Krausz's help, we began understanding more and more about what makes the stepwife connection so inherently difficult. To begin with, you're predisposed to dislike each other, and it's usually downhill from there. But no matter how bad your situation is, we encourage you not to give up hope, because even if you think your stepwife would never work with you, you can still work our program alone. When you change the way you respond to your stepwife over time, you will change the dynamics of your relationship.
We now feel grateful for the insights we have gained, for helping each other fit some very important missing pieces into the puzzle of our lives. As we continue to heal, we rejoice in the knowledge that rather than living with an enemy, we each have an ally, someone with whom we can cooperate rather than argue. We have become CoMamas. And when we look into the future, to that inevitable day when we both get to answer to that sweet little voice calling, "Grandma?" we know we don't have to be afraid anymore.
So whether you're a divorced mother with a stepwife, a mother contemplating divorce, a stepmother, or planning to marry a man who has children, we are confident this book will help you. Let us guide you as you attempt to navigate the bumpy road ahead, for we have traveled that very same road. And although we still encounter bumps along the way, they are now few and far between. Follow us. Our advice is sound, our directions clear, and, most important, our son, Evan, is happy and very well adjusted. If we can do it, so can you.
Copyright © 2002 by Louise Oxhorn, Lynne Oxhorn-Ringwood, and Marjorie Vego Krausz
The CoMamas are not licensed psychologists. Dr. Krausz is a licensed Marriage Family Therapist in California and a licensed psychologist in Texas. CoMamas workshops, emails, consultations and/or coaching is not intended to replace traditional therapy, but is based on the program developed by the CoMamas and Dr. Krausz and the book STEPWIVES.
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