One of the common problems us stepmums face, is that our partner's often either don't understand what we have to deal with, or have no idea to help us.
It is really hard for them to understand where we are coming from, as they too have a LOT going on, such as feeling torn between the kids and us, and dealing with all kinds of guilt.
*Note - I asked my husband for his view on this all, as he would know better than me!*
Remember, it isn't ever another person's job to make us happy, we have to do that for ourselves.
True happiness always begins from within.
However, so that all members of the stepfamily can find peace and contentment, there needs to be empathy and understanding between the husband and wife.
The centre of the stepfamily should always be the husband and wife. The marriage or relationship must always be a priority. Too many stepmum's put themselves at the bottom of the pile and feel that their opinions and feelings don't matter, and then end up feeling resentful and left out.
There is a saying I like that goes along the lines of 'the wife is the first priority, but the kids are the husband's first responsibility.'
So how do we get our partner to understand the problems that we are facing without coming across as a jealousy, insecure and needy wife?
FIRST OF ALL, TRY TO UNDERSTAND THEM
Before we speak to our partner about how we are feeling, we need to pause and try to see their point of view. Imagine their struggles for a moment.
Remember we are both seeing things from a completely different angle. How can we expect them to understand us, if we don't attempt to understand them?
This goes for any relationship in life, if you want them to understand you, try to understand them first, without judgement.
Understanding them also means that their view may be different, and we can't judge them for that. We need to compromise just as much as they do, and communicate with them to help them try and understand how we feel.
Once we have decided to communicate it is important to remember a lot of it is not what we say, but how we say it. There is a technique I use time and time again that never fails.
COMMUNICATE FROM YOUR HEART
So what does this mean?
It means simply dropping into your heart, connecting with it and communicating from there. It always so important that we come from a place of LOVE, and not FEAR. We need to get out of heads and into our hearts.
The head likes creating drama, over-reacting and can respond with fear. It is easier to control our thoughts, words and actions when we drop into the heart.
If we keep practicing this, our ego, which thrives on fear, will eventually start to dissolve.
When we speak from the heart, our communication is honest and open. It can be scary I know to be be vulnerable, as we can like to put our walls up to protect us, but it is the most courageous and strongest thing to do in your relationship.
TO HELP WITH THIS, I HAVE CREATED A VIDEO TO HELP YOU SPEAK FROM THE HEART - CLICK HERE.
DON'T BLAME HIM, THE KIDS OR THE EX
How we are feeling is no one else's fault but our own. We need to learn the art of taking responsibility for how we feel.
How can we expect someone else to understand how we are feeling, if we keep blaming others for our problems and giving our power away?
Yes people may push our buttons, but it is up to us how we respond. When you decide to communicate from your heart, it is important to talk about how the situation is making you feel, rather than saying something negative about another person.
For example, instead of 'You are so selfish and care more about the ex than me', you could say, 'When you were speaking to the ex about old times, it felt like you didn't care about me'.
Instead of 'Your kids never help me around the house', could you say 'I am feeling overworked right now, I would really appreciate some help with the dinner'.
Your partner needs to know the problem isn't him or his children. It is the nature of stepfamilies and what is coming up right now for you. He needs to know you are going to work on your side of the street.
EXPLAIN TO HIM (FROM THE HEART) THAT STEPFAMILIES DO NOT FUNCTION LIKE A FIRST FAMILY
You can show him this blog post if you like!
Too often we try and fit our stepfamily in the wrong box, thinking that we can have the same experience and play by the same rules as a first family.
Unfortunately we can't.
Blended families more often than not, don't blend as seamlessly as we would all like.
There are so many factors involved as I am sure you know.
The best way to bring peace to your stepfamily is to put the marriage as a priority. The husband always has to have the wife's back, and they need to work as a team.
There also needs to be some sort of structure in the household. Stepfamilies cannot function in chaos.
There needs to be structure and balance around who gets time with the parent/child/spouse. There needs to be rules, chores, rewards and consequences. There needs to be manners and respect between all family members.
The things you can get away with in a first family, could be very hurtful in a stepfamily.
I often told my husband the statistics of stepfamilies in the beginning, and that stepmum's were more prone to anxiety and depression than biological mums.
Stepfamily studies suggest that about up to 70% of marriages involving children from a previous marriage fail. This is double the rate of failure in first marriages.
The odds are not stacked in our favour, and we are going to have to work at this. It won't be a fairytale at times!
Once we accept that our family life is going to be different and learn the techniques needed to thrive as a stepmum, things will fall into place.
GIVE WHAT YOU WANT TO RECEIVE
I am a big believer that whatever we put out, we will get back in life.
So ask yourself, what are you giving to your relationship? People often given back to us, when we give with love, kindness and respect first.
Can you set the intention today, to understand with true empathy how your partner is feeling first of all?
Can you accept him for who he is and his past?
Can you let go of any kind of judgement or anger towards him?
Can you forgive him for things he has done or said in the past?
SELL IT TO HIM. WHAT IS IT IN FOR HIM?
Our partner is more likely to understand our struggles and want to help or change, if there is something in it for them. How will it make him a better father? How will it help the kids?
For example, what is the benefit of you going out on a date night when you have the kids?
What is the benefit of the kids spending less time on technology?
What is the benefit of the kids helping around the house or teaching them how to be neat and tidy?
What is the benefit of him giving you more time and attention?
Stepfamilies work best when it is a win-win situation for all, as much as possible.
Just because your partner hasn't understood you so far, doesn't mean he won't in the future. We all have the power to change, which means that your stepfamily life can change to.
If things are ever tough, don't give up hope that they will improve in the future.
Remember, nothing stays the same or lasts forever. This moment will pass, just breathe, relax and let it go.