I know from my personal and clinical experience that a strong stepcouple is the foundation and glue in a healthy stepfamily. I have a masters degree in counseling psychology from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. I’ve been in private practice since 1988 specializing in counseling stepcouples and stepfamilies. I wrote a book as a remarriage manual for adults with children: Stepcoupling: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today’s Blended Family (Crown Publishing Group, New York, 2002).
I grew up in Berkeley, California where I lived in a traditional two-parent family. I moved to Portland, Oregon with my first husband and our two small sons. After divorcing, I met and fell in love with David, who was also divorced. He had three children, I had two, and we both had full time custody. We married and suddenly we were raising five children all under fourteen years old in one house. It was a shock for all of us. There were days when I didn’t think we’d make it.
I remember one particularly difficult stretch early on when I couldn’t get through to his kids, no matter what I said or did. My own kids were feeling the pressure and missing the relationship we had when it was just the three of us. When I was at the end of my rope one evening, after a very long day with his children, David and I went up to our bedroom and talked for hours. He just listened while I ranted. He wiped my tears, and held me. He assured me that he loved me very much and that I belonged with him in this stepfamily. He also told me that I was doing all the right things as a mother and stepmother, but it was just hard. Finally, I calmed down and we made some plans for improving things. He agreed to talk with his kids.
After that, while our conflicts got to us from time to time, we always knew that we would stay together. We loved each other, we needed each other, and the children deserved stable, committed parents to raise them. They’re grown and married now, with families of their own.
This experience was the beginning of my understanding that the stepcouple relationship is pivotal to the strength and longevity of a stepfamily. Since then, I’ve seen this proved over and over in my counseling practice.
- Author of Stepcoupling (Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House), a consistent category best-seller on Amazon.com since publication
- Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Lewis and Clark College, 1986
- 20 years of private practice specializing in stepcouples and their families
- In a successful stepcouple relationship since 1976, raising 5 children
Speeches, Workshops and Stepcouple Classes
For universities, hospitals and professional organizations including:
- National Association of Social Workers
- Stepfamily Association, Portland OR Chapter
- Head Start
- Portland State University
- Portland Community College
- Portland Public Schools
- Providence Hospital
- Legacy Health Systems
- Kaiser Permanente
- St. Vincent Hospital
- Tuality Hospital
- Interviewed on more than 75 national and regional television and radio programs
- Featured in numerous print media, including Time magazine, The Rocky Mountain News, The Toronto Star, and The Oregonian
- Featured expert on stepfamilies in The Oregonian’s “Ask the Experts” series
- Author of “Bits of Wisdom,” a regular stepfamily series in The Stepfamily Advocate