In my latest piece for psychology today, how to talk so you your husband will listen, and argue in a way that will strengthen your marriage, rather than sink it. Hope you will have a read…and leave a comment!
Posts Tagged ‘marriage’
Save the date! Come to New York City! On Saturday, September 25th, I will be co-conducting a three-hour workshop for women with stepkids along with Dr. Rachelle Katz, author of The Happy Stepmother.
Rachelle and I will address the issues that matter to you, provide validation and helpful advice, and help you connect with other women partnered with men with kids.
More details closer to the date. Hope you will be able to make it!
Hope you will check out my most recent article for psychologytoday.com on partnership, love, and lust. What role do secrets and novel experiences play in keeping marriages alive?
Tell me about it: Do you keep secrets from your husband or partner? Your comments will be kept secret, as always…
-”My husband is married to his kids, not to me. He’s so close to them. Whenever they show up I feel and am shunted to the side. If I complain, I’m a petty wicked stepmother. So I don’t say anything. And then I’m furious at him, and at them.”
-”When his kids are around he won’t even hold my hand. That hurts. And it makes me dread their visits.”
“He’s not finished with his ex. He does chores for her. He bickers with her like they’re still married. He’s at her beck and call and I’m fed up with it.”
-”This is a shadow of the marriage I hoped I would have–the fighting, the disappointment, the stress of dealing with his kids and his ex.”
You are right in your sense that when it comes to stepfamily life, without a good partnership you are nowhere. And with an airtight, satisfying alliance where you feel valued, loved, and part of a team of two, you can put up with and even thrive in the context of just about anything an uncooperative ex or resentful step/kids dish out.
Your partnership is what counts and is the key to success. Everything else–games of chicken about visitation with his ex, teen stepkinder with slovenly rooms and bad hygiene, stepkids who are disrespectful, sullen, or unwelcoming to a stepparent–are so much noise. What I mean is, fix the underlying issue by recalibrating your marriage so that it is a true partnership, and these other issues with repair themselves, or recede so much into the background that they matter less.
For example, if your teen stepson in residence is using drugs, that’s a huge problem and a huge stress on a marriage or partnership–particularly if you find yourself in that typical dynamic in a remarriage with children wherein you point out the problem with the kid’s behavior, and your husband dismisses your concern and minimizes the importance of what’s going on. At which point, you escalate your criticisms so he’ll take you seriously, and he grows ever more defensive and withdrawn and suggests, implicitly by ignoring you and explicitly by saying it, that you’re way too hard on his kids and there’s something wrong with your reaction.
Feels like a deal breaker, doesn’t it? Here’s another scenario: you’re both on the same page about what to do. You’re not thrilled to have your life once again waylaid by a teen stepkid who’s constantly creating drama and difficulty in your marriage and your life. You calmly tell your husband as much while also telling him that you feel bad for the stress it’s creating for him to have a kid breaking the rules. Your husband nods and says, “I know. It’s so frustrating for me and I’m his parent. I can only image how much you must resent this, and I don’t blame you one bit. Thanks for putting up with all this teen crap. I really feel lucky that you married me and you’re sticking it out with me.”
Yes, you can. Over the next weeks I’ll have stepfamily and martial and relationship experts doing guest posts to tell you how to realign the power imbalances in your home so your partnership feels and IS equitable, satisfying, and yes, happy.
A great place to start is psychoeducation–learning what’s normal for a couple in a repartnership with kids of any age, what dynamics are typical. One of the most common is putting the partnership last on the list of priorities as we put out fires with stepkinder and uncooperative exes.
Two great guest posts, one by Mary Kelly Williams, MA of www.marriedwithbaggage.com, and one by Susan Wisdom, author of Stepcoupling, illuminate why your couple bond is so important, and steps to take to keep it thriving.
And Susan’s piece called “What Were You Thinking?!”
Have a read (have two!)….and leave a comment.
I often find myself in a mind-meld with Kela Price, co-founder of the recently re-named Today’s Modern Family web site (it used to be Blended Family Soap Opera. Being me, I had my reservations about the “blended” part–but felt she and her partner Diane Green were right on target with the “soap opera” half of the equation). Kela and Diane run an informative, supportive site and Kela authored the tremendously popular “Healthy Marriage or Healthy Divorce?” that had us all talking recently.
I love Kela’s piece, “Why Did I Get Married?” and feel it’s the perfect follow-up to my recent ruminations about whether marriage is “necessary.” Thanks to Kela for permission to run the piece, and to Kela and Diane for serving all the modern families they do. Check out Kela’s article…and leave a comment!
For any Canadian blog followers and FB fans, please tune in to your local CBC radio station tomorrow a.m. to hear me talk about the state of marriage in 2010, which will be running on numerous CBC morning shows nationally ! And call your local CBC station if you’d like them to air the interview.
I’ll be discussing how too often we fail to understand that real marriages between real people are tied to Marriage the social institution. When it becomes less relevant and necessary, we need extra help.
Read the article “Is Marriage Necessary?” here.
Love, Lust, Sex, Romance, Power, Marriage: Would you marry your man with kids again, knowing what you do now? Tell me about it!Monday, February 8th, 2010
A few days ago I published a piece on psychologytoday.com called “Is Marriage Necessary?” You can also link to it via the post below.
One Boston University study found that nearly 75% of women with stepkids they interviewed would NOT do it over again–would not marry a man with kids, that is. Would you? Tell me about it (and remember your posts here are anonymous!)
As we count down to Valentine’s day in this Love, Sex, Romance, Power series, today I ask the question, “Is Marriage Necessary?” What can psychologists and couples therapists–and married people–learn from the history and sociology of marriage?
Have a look…and leave a comment: