Usually people don't want to have anything to do with their partner's ex. But other times, in a surprising turn of events, marital wisdom can come from the most unexpected source — your spouse's ex. While many would want to stay as far away from their partner's ex as possible, befriending them (if only for their wisdom) can be a smart option, too. Case in point: these real brides share the stellar advice they received from their spouse's ex — and so it's only appropriate that we share the wealth (and knowledge!).
Remember that you can't "fix" anyone.
"I met his ex at my engagement party! They'd been together eight years. She was at the bar, and said to me, 'Honey, you don't have our history, so let me just tell you this. If you want this to work, if you think you can make it work, you need to understand you can't fix him or encourage him to be a better version of himself. He is the way he is.' I thought she was being a spiteful ex but nearly four years into marriage I can say she was right. And if it weren't for her saying that, I would've been a lot more disappointed at the way some things have been, but because of her advice I am more able to truly accept my husband for the person he is." —Ysmay
Make a date night once a week.__
"I'm not friends with Jim's ex but it's a small town and we run into each other once in a while. Recently we met at of all places the waiting room at the gynecologist and we started talking. (There were no interesting magazines to read!) She said, 'I'm getting married and this time around I'm going to do something I forgot to do with Jim — keep dating.' That stuck with me. Once a week Jim and I do something together without the kids, even if it's snuggling watching Netflix." —Hildy
Make each other a priority.__
"This sounds a little weird but my roommate introduced me to her ex-husband. She said, 'He's a great guy. We didn't work out because I was building my career and didn't make him a priority. If the two of you hit it off, don't make that mistake.' Sam and I did hit it off — he is indeed a great guy and we are one another's priorities." —Michelle
Compliment your sex life.__
"I bumped into her once at a drugstore buying shaving cream, aftershave, and yeah, condoms. She looked into my basket and said, 'If I had a do-over I wouldn't keep telling Ed he was a lousy lover. In retrospect, he was really caring and wanting to make sure I was satisfied. Men I've been with since the divorce have been selfish in bed.' It was very awkward listening to his ex talk about her sex life with my husband but I took her words to heart. I always compliment his love making and tell him how much I appreciate his wanting to please me!" —Ann
Tell the truth instead of shutting down.__
"She told me once while dropping off my husband's six year old daughter, 'Whenever Tom would ask me what was wrong, I'd say nothing even when there really was something I was stewing over. When he asks, tell him the truth rather than shutting down.' That advice has served me well." —Linda
Don't ever threaten divorce — unless you mean it.__
"By no means am I friends with Mitch's ex. And she never gave me advice per se. But he told me early on, 'Josie was constantly threatening me with divorce so it made me not feel safe in the relationship.' I learned from that and when we're mad at each other I bite my tongue before making any kind of baseless threat. Words hurt." —Babs
Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.