How I survived this stepfamily “stuff” – Part 2

Last week, I described how my strong sense of self is partly responsible for me surviving my stepfamily journey, sanity intact.

The other crucial part of this is my husband’s support.

I don’t think men know just how much influence and power they hold.

After all, they’re the whole reason we’re here, right? We fell in love and decided to spend the rest of our lives with these men.

Stepmoms, if your husband fades into the background, allowing the kids to walk all over you or disrespect you because they’re blind to the behavior, or if they sit quietly by as the ex reams you a new one for no obvious reason– you’re left thinking, what the hell am I doing here??

And remarried moms, if your husband turns a deaf ear when you need support, or turns his back when you need a shoulder to rest on, you’re left with separation, instead of closeness.

Stepmoms often complain that their husbands become defensive when they try to address an issue about the kids. This is extremely dangerous.

The issue never gets resolved, because through his defensiveness he distracts you, and suddenly you’re on the defensive trying to explain your stance.

After all, the goal of being defensive is to throw you off track and avoid having to deal with the actual issue. And unless you’re a pro at redirecting him, you’ll never be able to voice your concerns and come up with a solution.

And with no solution, you will begin to feel hopeless.

Whether you’re a remarried mom or a stepmom, there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to communicate with your husband.

Do it the right way, and he’ll give you the world. Do it the wrong way, and you’re in a for a looooong, painful marriage – or a very short one.

I’m lucky. I’m married to one of the few men who DOESN’T get defensive. He allowes me to voice my concerns and has always been very receptive to my observations and suggestions.

My husband always has my back. If I need something, he provides, whether it’s an opt-out clause regarding the kids (thanks Joel Schwartzberg*), or a boundary set around the ex.

He comes through, time and time again. For his family. For me. For us.

Without his support, I would have thought, Why am I wasting my time? Why am I dealing with all his baggage?

Without his support, I would have felt completely alone, helpless. Left to wonder why I was putting myself through this.

It was up to me to speak up and let him know what I needed. And he chose to listen, which I’m sure wasn’t easy, as he was also dealing with his own set of difficulties.

But because we saw ourselves as partners, sharing a life full of love, our relationship was able to thrive, even during those darkest days.

We were able to laugh, even if it was only briefly, regardless of what going on around us.

We were able to put up a force field and not let the ugliness in.

We created a sacred space. Just for us.

If at the end of the day, you and your husband can look at each other and know that you are partners, that when you remove all the drama and crap that comes along, that you two are solid — then the rest is just background noise.

If you have a strong marriage, you can handle anything that’s thrown at you.

How does your husband support you? Does he ask what you need? Does he ask where you’re struggling?

Men love to provide for us, but they need to know WHAT to provide.

Let him know you want to have a conversation. Then be honest. Tell him how you’re faring. If you need more help from him, let him know.

If you’re thankful that you have such a wonderful husband, let him know that too.

For those of you whose marriage needs reviving, you don’t need an expensive get-a-way.

Try connecting in little ways; a glance, a touch, a love note.

It’s these little gestures that keep us close.

Think of your marriage as a garden. Water it with appreciation and simple, loving gestures, and it will grow.

© 2011 Jenna Korf      All Rights Reserved

(Photo credit: kongsky)

Article of Interest:

There’s a wonderful article by Joel Schwartzberg entitled “What Remarried Dads Owe Their Stepmom Wives.” In it, Joel describes, perfectly, 6 values that husbands should share with their stepmom wives.  It’s one of my favorites!

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  1. Elisette says:

    As a divorced mom expected to be a step mom at some point, and a generally rational person (really!), please don’t buy into your husband’s side hook line and sinker. Don’t be the one to work up his anger against the ‘evil ex’. He’s not innocent (and that’s okay). Support him, yes, to try and be better. Everyone needs that support.

  2. That’s a good point, Elisette. As a general rule, and this includes my opinion of my husband’s ex, I wait for my own interactions with that person to form an opinion. I wait for them to show me who they are. :)

  3. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful husband who IS my partner in every way. He supports me as the stepmom, listens when I talk to him about his children and is very understanding when there are times that I need to step back and take a break from his kids. He is not as supportive of me and the kid’s mother working together and forming any kind of friendship, I think it makes him a little uncomfortable and he has been very direct with me in his wishes that he does not want blended family birthday parties or anything like that (his ex is his ex for a reason, he doesn’t want to hang out with her), but he understands the reason that I try to work with the mother to bring about peace between our two families and he is supportive of me in that. He is very good about putting our marriage before anything else that comes in life and he takes the time to make the little things count (like bringing me roses for no reason at all). I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful husband!

  4. CKsmom, that’s awesome! You’re lucky to have such an supportive husband!

    I can understand his hesitation about you and his ex, but you can still have a decent *working* relationship with her, for you and the family, and keep the celebrations separate, for him. That might make everyone happy :).

  5. beachhokie says:

    CKsmom ~ are you sure you aren’t married to my BF? Your description sounds exactly like my situation. My BF backs me up in all things to do with his kids. He sends me the sweetest text messages, emails, voice mails, etc. I always get a flower for no reason at all (my co-workers are incredibly jealous)! I was blown away that men exist like him. But, he HATES that I talk to his ex-wife. He does not like that I communicate with her and has asked me on more than one occasion not to. I explain my reasons for communicating and keep doing it. So far it’s been okay. We actually just had a birthday party for his son last month, and I invited his ex-wife, her husand and their child. My BF wasn’t thrilled, but everyone got along great. My stance was, this is our birthday party. It’s your son’s, and he wants his mom and little brother there.

  6. I think I have great support with hubby with TM1 but not with TM2. I know part of the reason is because he was in love with TM1, planned on getting married and the whole nine yards (thou it never happened), I think there is a bond there. With TM2, there is no bond, never has been one, he actually used her on several occasions to get at talking to SD2, spending time with her, etc. The relationships are totally different, as is mine with both TMs. hubby has no respect for TM2 whatsoever so I feel I do not get proper back-up, support, etc. either when things go array between her and I, why? I guess cuz he doesn’t care??? Not so sure. I’ve asked him *many* times to put his foot down down about her disrespecting our household, our marriage and my position but he rarely does it. She feeds words to SD2 about what to say to TD instead of allowing SD to 100% think for herself. Most recently was, “Daddy, come home, I want you to come home.” That took TD and I *both* for a spin. I told TD he *has* to set boundaries. TD and TM2 *never* lived together and he’s seen SD2 for a total of 36 hrs in the past 12 months, so those words are not SD2. His response was, “Daddy *is* home and you’re at *your* home.” My opinion, as I have been TM for 22 years and a SM for 12 years before and now again for 15 months, is to abolish as much as possible the confusion that TM2 is putting in her head. Such as……”You are at Mommy’s house and you’ll be coming to Daddy’s house,” something very simple but straight to the point for her to start understanding. TD does get very defensive at times because he *knows* TM2 is very head-strong and doesn’t want to *hear her mouth* or deal with her at all. My suggestions are to bring clarity to SD2. My hubby is a *young* father, only 3-1/2 years now where I have 22 years under my belt, so he does get offended when I speak up. Our marriage comes first and I am only trying to help him. Could there be more support….most definitely…especially in set boundaries.

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