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The Importance of Date Night

July 9th, 2015

Happy summer!  David and I have been away enjoying the sun.  We even went to Hawaii for a week of fun with our kids who live in Alaska.  We rarely get to see them. It was wonderful to reconnect in a beautiful place.

As we age, (yes, we are getting older) we think of how far we’ve come from those early years of stepcoupling with five full time kids. My goodness, that was hard! The mix of interfering ex-spouses, demanding kids, competition for attention, hassles at the dinner table, and day-to-day life sometimes felt overwhelming.  The kids all took turns at being angry and sneaky.  We had a big silver and burgundy colored Chevvy van and I was the chauffeur with no less than 5 or 6 kids wanting to be driven somewhere.  There were times I didn’t know if I could survive.  I still believe the only way we made it was date night.  Love, romance, good food that I didn’t cook, a glass or two of wine, and time for conversation. We always came home rejuvenated.

Now it’s just the two of us. The kids are grown with families of their own.  And the best part is that we all get along now.  The kids check-in with us often, hang out, share information and stories about their lives.  I never believed I would get to this place when we were in the thick of “stepfamily chaos”. We did it though, and I’m grateful every day.

Life is good…very good.

I wish the same for your stepfamily. I encourage you to schedule your date night today and make it a regular time for re-connection. Your stepcouple is the foundation of your stepfamily. Keep it strong!

Have a good summer and a fantastic date night!

Date night with Susan and David

Susan and David enjoying a date night in New Orleans, David’s home town.

Stepcoupling® Brand Is For Sale!

March 18th, 2015

STEPCOUPLING® BRAND FOR SALE!

Are you passionate about counseling? Are you interested in a unique opportunity to work with couples navigating the unchartered waters of Stepcoupling? Do you have an interest in teaching and helping stepcouples stay together with all the difficult challenges they face today?

This unique brand of counseling is available to someone truly interested in taking over the proprietary brand, Stepcoupling® and building it into a state-of-the-art business.

What’s in it for you? The potential for taking this business opportunity to the next level is exciting including, in-person as well as on-line work in the following areas: counseling, coaching, writing, blogging, informational seminars and webinars, lecturing, education & support groups, and anything else that supports stepcouples and directs stepfamilies towards success.

Stepcoupling® is a prevalent and increasingly common situation in   families today. Its growth requires fostering the counseling and the branded technique that I started years ago.

But it’s time for me to pass the baton on. And now, the Stepcoupling® business is for sale.

 

STEPCOUPLING® BUSINESS (the background)

My journey of Stepcoupling® is a personal one: a venture involving love and re-marriage and ultimately leading to a counseling practice and my book titled, “Stepcoupling®: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today’s Blended Family”  (published by Three Rivers Press, division of Random House 2002).

My Stepcoupling® legacy began with falling in love with a divorced man who was raising his three children alone.  I was also divorced with full time custody of my two, young sons.  David and I fell fast in love!

Now nearly forty years later we’re still married and still in love.  We’re both retired… and aging. We remember the early days when our five children and stepchildren were young.  We remember the up’s and down’s, the drama, as well as the fun times. There was always some issue to deal with. Today our kids are grown with families of their own.

 

AND NOW…

I’m passing on the legacy I started years ago: that a healthy Stepcouple is the key to stepfamily success.  It’s the glue that makes stepfamilies strong and enduring.

My brand, Stepcoupling® with a service Trademark® is for sale.  It includes use of the word, “Stepcoupling” as well as the domain name, Stepcoupling.com, all content on the blog site, and the registered Service Trademark, Stepcoupling ® with the US Government.

Price is negotiable. There is tremendous need and opportunity here. One thing that is certain is that stepcouples need support, tools, encouragement, education, and ways to stay together. You could be that resource utilizing a well-recognized brand, Stepcoupling®.

If you are interested, please contact us. And, please share this. It’s a great opportunity for the right person!

I look forward to hearing from you! I also appreciate you sharing this with counselors you know that might be interested in this opportunity.

SUSAN WISDOM, MA, LPC (Retired)

 

Thanksgiving – Traditions Make the Stories – Stories are the Glue

November 20th, 2014

David and I have had many Thanksgivings to reflect on with our stepfamily tribe…39 to be exact! There was always a lot of hype around Thanksgiving – one, because it was FUN and two, because it was only one month ’til Christmas!

Historically our whole family participated in getting Tom Turkey on the dining table with all the usual side dishes. The girls decorated the table and made individual place tags. The boys peeled and mashed potatoes. Later they washed dishes…sort of. There was always music in the background selected by the kids, of course. One of the best parts was the kitchen smell that filled the house.

Crazy as it sounds, our Thanksgiving dinners don’t change, even though our numbers have grown. There were always drop-ins and newcomers along the way. At times, I’ve tried to change it, but NO GO! The kids insist on turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, spinach casserole, (not loved by everybody) ice cream and pie! And that’s the way it is. Total pig-out!

I think back to some of the disasters we’ve had: the year the sink stopped up beyond repair, the time the turkey hit the floor, the beige wallpaper paste-like gravy disaster, and the year one of the kids surprised me with a bunch of last minute friends from college. There’s always the incessant, “When’s dinner ready?” and the challenge of keeping hands from pulling the crispy turkey skin off before the bird gets to the platter.

After the Thanksgiving blessing, there is lively debate, laughing, eye-rolling, teasing, inside jokes and memories of how this stepfamily has written its own story. After dinner we all pass out in front of the TV watching football or a movie.

We still do Thanksgiving together…not always at our house as before.  It always tickles me to see how our kids have inherited the traditions that we started so long ago. Our children have all grown and have kids of their own. Our numbers have swelled. We’re always crammed around the dining room table and additional card tables. The love, traditions and stories keep us coming back year after year.

Enjoy writing your own stories this year. Happy Thanksgiving.

Susan Wisdom MA retired Licensed Professional Counselor

November 17, 2014

Still A Stepcouple

June 24th, 2014

Since I wrote my book in 2001, “Stepcoupling: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today’s Blended Family”, lot’s has happened!  The five kids…his three and my two… are all grown with lives and families of their own.  We have seven grandchildren, who add so much to our lives.

Years ago, when I was in the thick of it, I couldn’t imagine freedom…ever! Managing a fulltime stepfamily with five kids plus two cats and a dog was overwhelming.  Throw in the issues with the exes and it was INSANE at times!

Fast forward…here we are well into our seventies with grandchildren graduating from Junior high and one facing college in a year.  We’re still a stepcouple and always will be.  Our lives are entwined with each other and with our kids and grandchildren.  We’re just a big old stepfamily…and we like it that way!  We don’t fight it anymore. We embrace it.

As a stepcouple, we hang out together, but we also have our separate friends and activities.  In the near future, I’m going to visit a friend in Napa Valley while David goes on a bike ride with his friends. Both of us are looking forward to it.

We take care of each other and try to stay healthy.  Yes, we snap at each other occasionally, but we always end up in our same comfy bed after 38 years!

Susan Wisdom, MA
Retired Licensed Counselor
June 23, 2014

Stepcoupling Book Review – Specific Chapters That May Help You Too!

February 12th, 2014

Valentines Day is the perfect time to focus on your stepcouple relationship.  If you’re looking for help and inspiration, read on…

Posted with permission by StepMom Magazine and Peggy Nolan
A Review of: “Stepcoupling: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today’s Blended Family
By Susan Wisdom, LPC and Jennifer Green

REVIEWED BY PEGGY NOLAN, MA, RYT in StepMom Magazine, February, 2014

If I could mail every new and struggling stepmom a care package, I would enclose a box of tissue for those first few difficult months, a new tube of pretty pink lip-gloss to give her spirits a lift, some dark chocolate and a copy of “Stepcoupling,” by Susan Wisdom and Jennifer Green.

This invaluable resource is packed with information, tips and strategies based on Wisdom’s own stepcoupling experience and her professional counseling services for divorcing couples and stepfamilies.

“Stepcoupling” revolves around two major premises: The eventual success of the new family hinges on the quality and strength of the stepcouple’s relationship, and the success of the stepcouple hinges on the willingness and ability of both partners to grapple with personal and family issues.

The book has six main chapters that fortify stepcouples with new ways to think about old behaviors. Two chapters stand above the rest: Chapter 2, “Tailoring Your Expectations of your Spouse and Family,” and Chapter 3, “Shaping and Knowing Your Own Boundaries.”

Chapter 2 covers a topic that nearly every stepfamily struggles with – expectations. Many stepcouples expect their stepfamily to behave just like a first family. Your partner may expect you to love his or her children like your own (and you may be guilty of the same). You may expect to have the same span of control and authority in your home with someone else’s children. Many new stepparents expect the same warm and fuzzy feelings from the stepkids to continue after they have married the kids’ biological parent. When these things don’t come to fruition, you may very well be left with what Wisdom refers to as the Three D’s of expectations: disappointment, discord and disillusionment. If you find yourself feeling disappointed or disillusioned and you and your spouse are arguing nearly all the time, read the second chapter first.

The second most important chapter in “Stepcoupling” is the third chapter. “Shaping and Knowing Your Own Boundaries.” If you are a people pleaser or a chronic yes person, this chapter is vital. Too often, women in the stepmom role complain about how poorly their partner’s ex-wife treats them or about how their stepchildren disrespect them. This chapter helps stepmoms understand the value of personal boundaries and why they are so important within stepfamilies.

It is also the responsibility of the stepcouple to agree upon, establish and enforce boundaries around their marriage. In the beginning, your new marriage is the weakest relationship in the stepfamily mix. In her book, Wisdom asserts that strengthening the stepcouple boundary is of vital importance and requires intention, time and tack. When you create your stepcouple bubble, you take care of yourselves and the children in your home.

Wisdom explains how detrimental anger toward an ex-spouse can be. “All the vocabulary, time, and energy you put into anger at the ex is being diverted from other areas of your life,” she writes. For stepmoms who complain about how much power the ex-wife wields, beware of collusion. According to Wisdom, “the ultimate irony is what happens when a stepcouple colludes in anger toward an ex-spouse: The ex gets exactly what he or she wants. Ex-spouses who seem to sabotage your relationship want a loud and clear presence in your home. When you talk constantly about what a jerk your ex-husband is or plot ways to foil his ex-wife, you grant that presence. Maybe the ex isn’t there physically, but he or she rules your life emotionally.”

Ultimately, the everyday realities of stepcoupling are what get most stepfamilies in trouble. Some examples are mundane, ordinary things like chore distribution, parenting styles, discipline, finances, stressful days at work, the sick puppy, the pile of laundry, homework, dinnertime, etc. Different values and priorities will chip away and erode your union. That is why it’s so important to make your marriage and your partnership the top priority. When your marriage is solid, everyone in the family benefits. If you want to fortify your relationship with your partner, “Stepcoupling” is a must read.

Each chapter includes thought provoking questions that you can discuss together during your couple time. Stepcouples will benefit from reading about the experiences of other stepparents and stepkids and will receive practical and useful guidance to manage the complex challenges that can divide stepcouples.

The only topic that’s missing from this otherwise invaluable resource is money and finances. As you read through and discuss this book with your spouse, don’t forget to talk about your finances: child support, extracurricular activities for kids, college, retirement and every other area that money touches your life.

This Valentine’s Day, give yourself and your partner the gift of greater understanding by reading this book together to become a strong, united, and fortified stepcouple!

PEGGY NOLAN MA, RYT is the CEO of Frazzled to Fabulous, a website dedicated to helping women reclaim the lives they were born to live. Peggy is a contributing writer to the Huffington Post and The Women’s Toolbox. She is the mother of two adult children and the grandmother of two. She is a 2nd degree clack belt in Muay Thai Kickboxing and a certified yoga teacher. Peggy and her husband, Richard, live in Derry, New Hampshire.

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon. Also available in your Kindle store!

 

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