Stepmom Solutions to Feeling like an “Outsider”

This is a follow up post to one I wrote regarding the REASONS many  stepmoms feel like an outsider. If you have not read that post yet, I suggest doing so before this one.

Now that we have a better understanding of the WHY, let’s tackle the HOW.

  1. Relief-Merely, understating that it’s normal to feel outside the circle can be a HUGE help. This should remove the overwhelming, “what am I doing wrong?” factor.
  2. Relax- When a wife raises her voice and rants, complains, nags or accuses her husband he normally does one of two things. The man physically and/or emotionally shuts down and runs away, or he becomes angry and defensive. When she responds this way pertaining a situation that involves his kids you can expect that response X 10. Verbally attacking your spouse or belittling him will backfire.
  3. Relay-Set up a time to talk when its just the 2 of you. If this requires getting a sitter and/or going to a restaurant, do it. This discussion must be a high priority. If left unaddressed, it has the potential to destroy your marriage.
  4. Resources-Show your spouse these 2 blogs. It’s often easier for him to hear your situation from a stranger, or an author, on the situation. I know that hurts because it feels like your pain isn’t important to him and, “Why should he need someone else to tell him?” I’m sorry. In most cases he isn’t trying to discount your feelings, this is merely what works.
  5. Relate-Explain to your spouse that you hadn’t anticipated feeling like an outsider and that these emotions have you very confused. Now that you both understand why it’s happening, you very much would like to work on ways to heal it. No one is to blame, the kids aren’t doing anything wrong, he isn’t a bad parent, you aren’t overly sensitive, it’s merely a normal occurrence when a dad remarries.
  6. Resolve-Set up a signal between the two of you that communicates to your spouse when you are feeling excluded. Some couples choose a phrase or a word, others use a gesture, do whatever works for you. Then discuss some ways your spouse can bring you into the circle. Understand, it will take some time for this to work. Your spouse should gradually implement this initiative. If all of a sudden he says to his daughter, “OK, I have a wife now and she’s part of our family. So she’s going to sit beside me on the couch from now on, and you need to start sitting in the chair,” all it will do is create resentment. This must be done clearly but also slowly, patiently and over time.

This is a complex situation and way too intricate to give a “cookie cutter” fast answer. If this is a big issue in your home, you may need additional help from a 3rd party. I offer life coaching for stepfamily couples.

If your spouse refuses to hear your feelings on this situation, or receive additional help and disregards you with comments such as, “Your the adult here, just grow up,” that indicates a marital problem. It’s not a stepfamily problem anymore. It’s a husband, wife problem, which requires help.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Petherbridge. All rights reserved

Copyright © 2018 Laura Petherbridge. All rights reserved
Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on relationships, stepfamilies, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, 101 Tips for The Smart Stepmom, The Smart Stepmom, co-authored with Ron Deal and Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul. Laura is a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series. She has spoken at the Billy Graham Training Center and has been featured on Focus on the Family. Laura and her pastor husband of thirty two live in Cumming, Ga. She can be found at www.TheSmartStepmom.com