Mon 21 Mar 2011
This is the second installment of my conversation with Brigette Lemos-Norman of In The Blender. Our conversation stems from the one we had on The Stepmom Connection which aired live on March 16, 2011. Because the audio didn’t record correctly, we’re cross-blogging our conversation so you can join in, too.
This phrase is taboo for a reason. Once you say something like this, it’s out there. If you are going to tell your spouse this, you’ve got to be prepared to really sit down and work through things.
Having said that, I don’t believe it is wrong or atypical for any stepmom to think it especially during a heightened time of stress. It’s what you “do” with that thought that matters.
Thinking that “if I knew what I was getting into, I would have never married you” DOES NOT mean that you ARE going to leave the marriage. It’s simply an admission to the fact that you never thought it would be this tough.
Truly, I don’t think any woman marries a man with children focused on the rough spots ahead. Personally, I thought I was really ahead of the game when I married my husband and we merged our six kids. We had read every book on stepfamily life that we could get our hands on and taken some stepfamily bible studies at our Church. We were so blinded by the love bug we would chuckle after reading a book or attending a class saying “that stuff will never happen to us. I’m so glad that our kids all get along and that they all love and approve of us.”
Well something happened on that yellow brick road to the land of make believe. Somewhere between the day we said “I do” and about six months into the marriage a little thing I like to call REALITY hit our stepfamily! It’s when the truth that my husband and I were together and a very united front and that neither of us would ever again be with our children’s other parent really hit our kids. And their grief became unanticipated stress on us, as stepparents and as a stepcouple.
It was in those moments that we ran back to the materials we devoured before marriage and realized all the stuff we were going through was so typical of a stepfamily. That knowledge and preparation was key. So while I’ve never said those words “If I knew what I was getting into, I would have never married you” to my husband I have said “I never knew this would be so challenging. I really thought my love for you and my love of being a mom would make things easy.”
Often times, I believe our husband’s see the pain that we, as their wife and the stepmom of their children, may be in at the hands of the situation. This can wear on our husbands and they often feel guilty about “putting us” in stressful situations when it’s not their fault. The stress comes from the reality of stepfamily dynamics. One stepmom in the chat room shared “my husband carried that guilt–that my life would have been better if I hadn’t gotten involved (with him). We’re far beyond that now, but it took a lot of work.”
Saying that taboo phrase out loud to our husband may only serve to make them feel worse. Yes, it’s taboo for a reason. Mostly because saying it out loud won’t do much good. But thinking it and sharing with your positive minded stepmom friends can help you feel that you are not alone. And may help you to know you are not the only one who thinks that the job of stepmom is much harder and different than what you anticipated and there isn’t’ anything “Taboo” about that!
How do you feel about the idea of sharing some topics with your positive minded stepmom friends vs. your spouse?
Be sure to check out Brigette’s companion blog post on In The Blender