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Moving From a Romantic Twosome to a Solid Stepcouple and Stepfamily

March 24th, 2009

ARTICLE THREE:
BARGAINING AND DEPRESSION

How Can I Get Relief or Feel Better?gs175035

We’re continuing the series on the range of emotions and behaviors stepcouples struggle with as they adjust from a romantic twosome to solid stepcouple and stepfamily.  The next stage is BARGAINING – seeking ways to escape or looking for the cure.

You must be realizing by now and feeling assured that you’re not alone in this adjustment process.  That doesn’t diminish the power of your feelings – fear, anger, jealousy, and even desperation at times.  You still love your spouse but that’s not the problem. The problem is that your idyllic relationship is heading downhill fast, due to the tugs and pulls of the kids, the exes, busy schedules, to say nothing of today’s scary economic news.  Consciously or unconsciously, you think of ways of how to get through this and save your marriage.  You’re grasping at hope and maybe a little magic.

This brings up vivid memories. I remember lying in bed at night dreaming up ways to get relief from our two sets of kids, who we had 24/7.  I thought maybe our exes could take them more often, which I knew was impossible.  Maybe I could find after school programs and camps for our 5 kids, somewhat feasible, but not very.  At the end of my rope, I thought maybe a boarding school would work.  Isn’t there someplace I can get relief? I owned the pity pot…that’s for sure.  These feelings were particularly bad after arguments with the kids or with my husband about the kids.

I amused myself during those long sleepless nights planning my husband’s and my next getaway during the rare window when the kids weren’t with us.  Those times together were wonderful, but we always had to come home to guess what  – same old, same old.

I thought of running away or getting a job outside the house, but I needed to stay at home and take care of the kids!  I was trapped.

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Moving From a Romantic Twosome to a Solid Stepcouple and Stepfamily

March 13th, 2009

ARTICLE TWO: 784059
GETTING REAL

As a new stepcouple, you may be stuck in romantic love and drowning in the fantasy that it will always be that way.  Then it happens! You get blasted apart by kids…their demands, their complaints, their need for attention and their endless energy.  It’s hard to get time to yourselves.  The apparent pull of parental love and the time commitment to children feels overwhelming. Your spouse may forget to greet you with those long welcome hugs. Your pleas for attention are sometimes ignored.  You feel excluded. It’s NOT what you expected.  You don’t like waiting your turn!  It certainly wasn’t that way in the beginning.

Welcome to stepcoupling reality! The honeymoon’s over! The adjustment begins. The transition from that romantic twosome to a stronger stepcouple relationship involves a natural developmental process.  It’s about letting go of the early fantasies and expectations.  It’s about understanding, adjusting to and accepting the stepfamily members, and moving on to a deeper stepcouple relationship – inclusive, not exclusive.

There are five stages in this process: 1. Denial 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression 5. Acceptance.

Here’s how it happens…generally speaking.

DENIAL

In the beginning, you think: “Nothing will ever come between us; we won’t allow it. We’ll always communicate our feelings and thoughts.  We’re so lucky to have found each other after all we’ve been through” etc, etc.

You honestly believe it.  You brush off any early signs of warning.  You hide from the truth because the truth is too scary to admit. Finally, you can hide no more and you wake up one day with the chilling thought “Omygod, what have I gotten myself into?” The stepchildren are driving you crazy. You think they don’t like you, and you’re worried that maybe you don’t like them either. You wonder what will happen to you and your new relationship?  You hope and pray for your spouse to return to the Prince Charming (or Princess Charming) state so the two of you can hang out in romantic love again – 24/7.

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Introducing a 5-Part Series: Moving From a Romantic Twosome To a Solid Stepcouple and Stepfamily

March 6th, 2009

ARTICLE ONE:
THE BEGINNING – ROMANTIC LOVE – A POWERFUL DRUG
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Most stepcouples begin their journey in romantic bliss – two lonely, horny people who attach to each other like magnates often while they’re still married to spouses, or after a miserable divorce…whatever.  It doesn’t matter.  They fall in love. They’re heavily seduced by the feeling. It’s ROMANCE – not based in reality…sorry to say. But it feels wonderful!!

They get married or committed to each, and then they’re no longer just two people in love. It now becomes a GROUP AFFAIR that includes each other’s children, ex-spouses, extended family, family pets and maybe even a baby due soon. It includes schedules, house juggling, sibling and stepsibling rivalry, jealousy, resentment and confusion on everyone’s part.

At this point they all say:

“We’d have the perfect relationship if it weren’t for his (or her) children-or the exes-or the parenting style differences-or the bills …blah, blah, blah” Again it doesn’t matter what it is that irritates; it just does!

They also say: “Look, when the children aren’t around, we talk, have fun, have sex, laugh, go out, dream about the future.  But when the children enter the picture, we fight.”

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