I recently received an email from a concerned stepmom expressing frustrations with her living situation and asking how to address them. The letter reflected challenges I’ve heard from many stepmoms over the years, in one form or another.
Her first concern was that she felt like an outsider, or like hired help, rather than feeling like part of a cohesive family unit. This is actually two separate problems, and here’s the crux of it:
You need to feel like a wife, before you’ll start feeling like a mother.
Feeling like hired help has two components: your husband’s expectations of you, and your expectations of him. Here’s what it means if you feel this way.
He only appears to primarily expect you to serve physical needs: doing household chores, driving him or the kids around, feeding the family, etc..
Meanwhile, he is failing to meet your emotional expectations, like him cherishing you, exchanging affection, treating you respectfully, and demonstrably valuing your opinion by consulting you.
Schedule a time to talk with him about your perceived emotional distance. Tell him you feel: hurt, worried, unloved, etc.. Empathize with him, and share your hopes and dreams for the relationship. If he gets defensive and doesn’t take responsibility for his behavior or problems between you, suggest seeing a therapist so that he can recover from the post-divorce trauma.
Then, lay a foundation for relationship hygiene:
Remarried couples will find becoming a cohesive unit to be an involved endeavor. It requires lots of patience, creativity, and commitment both to the marriage and the family. Stepmoms will find process of becoming part of the family especially demanding of their time and energy.
However, though the journey from step-maid to stepmom is long and frought with peril, it is one well worth the effort.
I developed The Stepmom Success System: A Rescue Group for Women Trapped in Chaos to teach women how to be married and happy too. The 4 week group starts on Monday, February 10, 2014 in Long Beach. For more information and registration please contact me by either calling (714) 527-8111 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.