Navigating stepfamily life can be difficult for everybody involved – the stepparents, the stepchildren, and the biological parents. We attempt to answer some commonly asked questions about everybody’s role in a stepfamily.
Sometimes just hearing what someone else has to say helps so much! I encourage you to write down your own experiences and send them to us. It’s wonderful and healing when you come to realize that whatever you are going through, someone else is going through the same thing. It is my hope to make this site informative and helpful in your journey.
Healing the Stepfamily from the inside out.
The StepFamily Center is dedicated to strengthening couples so they can successfully meet the challenges of the stepfamily experience!
Task #5: Make a safe place for conflict. All couples need to work together as a couple to develop a safe way to have conflict. This is for the good of the relationship. There are things we do for our own good (and most of us like to be right and righteous or defensive and angry), but for the good of the relationship, we need to make conflict safe. This honors and respects the relationship itself. Without a safe way, you can only hurt one another. Any comments made out of anger or hurt, once said and expressed, are very hard to take back.According to Wallerstein, successful couples:
Task #6: Keep love and sexual intimacy strong. This doesn’t mean having a lot of sex, but it does mean making time for love and intimacy and focusing on this in the marriage. Strong couples do not punish each other by withholding sex, and keep a strong focus on being a romantic couple. They remember to do the things they like to do together and guard the importance of it. Maintaining a strong intimate connection helps to keep the focus on the couple, no matter how many outside intrusions there may be.
Couples often don’t like the concept of date night because they feel it’s too contrived and it should just happen naturally. But, with busy lives, nothing but exhaustion happens organically, and that is part of being a grownup with responsibilities. Pay attention to your relationship and make the necessary time with one another to play, laugh and make love. Make a date! Don’t count on it to just appear.
Of course, at times things will happen spontaneously, and when they do, enjoy them! But don’t count on spontaneity when you are running busy, hectic lives. You didn’t when you were dating, so why on earth would you do it now?
When I work with couples, whether they are stepcouples or couples with or without children, these rules of being in a relationship are very helpful. We can all feel justified in our anger and righteousness (“When she does X, I feel Y and I just have had enough”) and scream at our spouse hurtful words which, once expressed, land hard. Fair arguing is a skill and something we do for the sake of the marriage rather than for the sake of being right.
Decide the type of relationship you want. If you want one of being respected, be respectful. If you want to be understood, then be understanding even when it is most challenging. Resist black and white thinking and name calling. Always think about the type of relationship you want to create and be the co-creator, not the reactor.
Next month’s article will discuss the final three tasks in Wallerstein’s study. Once you have made it through these, you will be well on your way to creating a successful and rewarding stepcouple relationship.
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