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January 28th, 2010

Have you ever thought about what your stepcouple relationship would be like if you didn’t obsess about the EX? Ever think about the power she (or he) has in your life and the energy she uses? Does your relationship feel more like a threesome than an intimate twosome? Do you find yourselves as a couple colluding in anger against HER (or HIM? And when you look at your stepkids, do you resent how much they look like and act like HER?

If that’s the case, the ex is a DISTANCER and DISTRACTOR in your stepcouple relationship. And you are letting it happen.

The truth is, the EX is yesterday’s news. It’s an old, out of date relationship! Isn’t it time to move on? Time to reconstruct? Now I’m not saying it’s easy or even that you want to. It’s much easier, and it feels much better to be angry at the ex and keep her in a hostile place in your heart. It’s amazing how the stepcouple preys on that negative energy against her. The kids pick up on it and feel torn, confused and angry. No one benefits.

There are many emotional reasons why this is common and hard to change. First there’s jealousy. No new wife or stepmother likes to accept that her partner loved someone else and had a child with HER. That’s a bitter pill. Feeling second fiddle, they have doubts about the strength of the stepcouple’s love and commitment to each other. They also feel inferior because they are not the “real” moms. Stepmoms tend to demonize the ex to feel better about themselves

Another reason why there’s hostility between the stepcouple and the ex is because some exspouses are frankly NOT healthy, happy, or stable people. Many have problems with current life issues and relationships, past and present. Some are unreliable, drug and alcohol affected, angry, and unfulfilled people. Often the new stepcouple bears the brunt of these unresolved emotional problems… sad to say.

I can’t tell you the HORROR STORIES I’ve heard over the years of problems with exes. My job is to help the stepcouple grow in their partnership in spite of the problems with the ex. The stronger the stepcouple, the more support and love they have to raise his, hers and their children. Hopefully over time, the heat and anger with the ex will settle down.

I repeat WHY DO YOU CARE ABOUT THE EX? Is it time to move on and focus on your stepcouple, the kids, and anything else that comes up in today’s stressful world that needs your attention?

Addendum: This is not to say that you should in any way ignore or drop your obligations to preserve the relationship between the ex and her (or his) biological children.

Susan Wisdom
Licensed Professional Counselor
January 26, 2010


January 8th, 2010

On the heels of a recent conversation with a stepmom, it all came back to me.

It’s not fair that I have to be responsible for raising his child (a daughter), whose existence I had NOTHING to do with. I didn’t even know these people. Why do I have to be saddled with this thankless job when her mother checked out and gets off scot-free? Why should I deal with her mess? It doesn’t make sense… and I’m sick of it!

I listened. I had to agree with her that it wasn’t fair. But that has nothing to do with it. I also had to tell her that it’s her job to” participate” …whatever that means… in raising and supporting her partner’s kids. I also had to remind her that she is the adult stepmother of a child who needs her to be strong and stable…a hard pill to swallow.

That same day, I had a talk with my daughter-in-law whose own son, my 9-year-old grandson, is being oppositional and driving his mom crazy. Yes, she was complaining to me. She loves her son very much and besides, “He’s just going through a stage”, she said. The parents are busy, and he may be acting out a bit. It happens.

All I can say is, kids are kids. They have issues that upset you. Stepkids often have more issues due to stress from family break ups and remarriage. Their relationships with parents and stepparents are confusing. You are not their parent so they’re naturally inclined to take out their anger on you rather than their parent.

I remember being at my wits end. When I’d complain to my husband and the kids about how UNFAIR it was, I didn’t get much sympathy. They’d tell me in so many words, “Suck it up, you married into this family. It was your choice, so don’t blame us!”

OK, so I did marry into this stepfamily. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t easy. It was what it was- both blissful and painful. That was many years ago. What’s wonderful is how far we’ve come and what we’ve overcome. We still have our issues, but who doesn’t?

As a stepcouple you too can overcome the obstacles…if you want to. As a stepcouple, you can connect and communicate, and learn to co-parent each other’s children. It’s the most fair thing to do.

I wish you peace and happiness in 2010.

Susan Wisdom
Licensed Professional Counselor
January 2010

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