BARGAINING AND DEPRESSION
How Can I Get Relief or Feel Better?
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.
The pressure was building and taking its toll on our romantic relationship. What happened to that glow? We’d find ourselves being negative and sarcastic with each other, openly fighting, or dishing out the silent treatment. The topic was always the same – THE KIDS. He’d side with his kids, and I’d side with mine. We were not being good models for blending a family.
Bargaining wasn’t working, so I slipped into DEPRESSION. I FELT LIKE A FAILURE. I wasn’t keeping my promises to cherish and care for the kids. I felt sad and angry a lot. I was drinking a little too much wine at night. The kids were seeking attention in numerous negative ways. No one was happy. It felt like we were at the bottom of a hole struggling to claw our way out.
Then one day after complaining to a friend, she brought it to my attention. She asked “What did you expect?” She went on to say “You married a man with kids. He’s going to love and protect his kids, no matter what! And furthermore, be glad that he’s a loving dad”. She nailed me! I asked her “BUT WHAT ABOUT ME?” She didn’t answer.
That did it! I got it that it wasn’t about me. I was supposed to be the adult, but I certainly wasn’t acting or feeling like one. I needed to grow up and change my attitude.
That was my first step toward adjustment and acceptance.
The final two articles in this series will be focusing specifically on how stepcouples can grow together and raise healthy children – his, hers, and theirs in a blended family. If done with love, respect and mutual support, I can’t think of anything more ROMANTIC! Can you?
Susan Wisdom LPC