It’s no secret that stepfamilies can be extremely challenging, but they can be successful if the family focuses on building their family. This may be hard to believe because all that seems to be discussed in articles, on blogs, books, etc. is the bad stuff that stepfamilies can’t seem to get past; be it an intrusive ex-wife, a husband who doesn’t understand and support his wife or kids that don’t like and/or respect you. BUT, you can get past those things and your stepfamily, including your children, will benefit as a result.
I’ve mentioned the ladies over at the Stepfamily Letter Project in a couple of posts. It’s a site where stepfamily members can relieve stress by getting things off their chests, anonymously. It’s a good way to vent and blow off some steam before approaching the problem a bit more diplomatically. I think it’s very useful and beneficial and I always encourage my readers and clients to relieve their frustration by speaking their mind in this manner. If you keep it bottled in, you will eventually EXPLODE and that isn’t good for anyone.
That being said, I think it’s equally important that we begin to share what’s going right in our stepfamilies to give other stepfamilies hope for the future. Sure, we’ve probably all been where disgruntled stepfamilies are, but for those of us who happened to, with hardwork, dedication, love and understanding, emerge successfully need to share that good news with everyone.
I’ll start: I’ve made it no secret that the start of my marriage was shaky because my husband and I focused on all the wrong things. We worked tirelessly to try and build a great relationship with his ex-wife because we wanted my bonus son to feel like all was not lost and that we could all be one big happy family. In the process, however, we neglected our marriage and we certainly weren’t one big happy family. As a matter of fact, the ONLY person that was happy was his ex-wife because we catered to her needs. Even my stepson wasn’t happy! Instead of my husband discussing matters that were pertinent to our household with each other, he was discussing them with his ex-wife and I was just forced to do what was convenient for them, but not at all convenient for me. He was trying to prove to her that he could still be a good father by being a great partner to her and offering her support, but he was not a good husband to me and offered me none [support]. But, after many arguments, communication, counseling, love and understanding we began to realize the importance of working on our marriage and family. We made US a priority and as a result, built a marriage and stepfamily that cannot be broken.
For starters, my husband and I are now that disgustingly madly in love couple that still hold hands during car rides; call each other cute little pet names like baby, honey and angel; and can’t keep our hands off each other. He is truly the love of my life and is an EXCELLENT, supportive, loving, understanding husband and father.
Another benefit of my husband and I putting our marriage and family first is how well my son has adjusted. He is an amazingly compassionate, intelligent, strong, wise young man. Navigating through our blended family has taught him to be understanding, forgiving, loving and accepting. He is also excellent with communicating his feelings, thoughts and beliefs with us. His teachers rave about him being a leader and the peacemaker in class, not to mention that he is a straight A student! Because all of his parents, including my ex and his wife, have worked hard to maintain our separate households while still attempting to work together, our son doesn’t feel like he’s missing out on anything. As a matter of fact, he has NEVER had a desire for his parents to be back together again. He has often expressed that he likes his family just the way it is.
Although my bonus son hasn’t adjusted as well, due to the fact that his mother won’t allow him to see us, the foundation that we built still stays with him. During our phone conversations, he has often expressed that he misses us and wants to come home. As a matter of fact, when he was 9 he told his mother that when he turned 10 he was going to live with us. Additionally, he has often told me [his evil stepmother] how much he misses me and my 200,000 questions that I always ask him. Side note: I always asked him about his friends at school, what he did at recess, his favorite foods that his stepfather cooked for him, if he liked girls, yet… I always thought I got on his nerves when I did that, but it turns out that’s one of the things he actually misses about me.
Overall, my husband and I have built a strong marriage and family for our children and as a result, our children have been able to witness a healthy marriage and develop skills that are and will continue to be beneficial to them in the future. More importantly, we’ve given them a sense of family that they will not forget and can continue to rely on.
See, there are many positive stepfamilies out there, even if the ex-wife is intrusive and destructive. You just have to make a firm commitment to each other, as husband and wife, and as a family. Work on building your marriage and strong relationships within your immediately family first. If you do so, you can build a strong stepfamily and that’s certainly good news.
What about you? TMF wants to start a Good News Stepfamily Project. We want you readers to start spreading the good news about your stepfamily. Maybe you too have gotten through the many obstacles that stepfamilies face and are now a strong stepfamily unit. If so, we need to start spreading this message of hope. It is true that many of us face battles with the exes, challenges with our stepchildren and even our spouses, initially, but it is possible to get past all that. If you have indeed gotten past it, we want to hear your good news. You can either leave a comment following this post and/or send your good news to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post all of your good news comments and emails in the good news section of our site so that everyone can see and understand that it is possible to jump those hurdles and create and maintain a healthy stepfamily.