Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Look Before You Leap

A woman often enters the stepfamily experience with stars in her eyes. Wrapped in a cloud of love and optimism she confidently floats down the aisle, smiling serenely at the cute little step-angel flower-girls who are absolutely adorable clad in their frilly attire and happily strewing orange blossoms onto the wedding path. A perfect day - hallelujah choruses soaring – heaven on earth! Right? Absolutely…until…the following morning when the very same little step-angels barge into the honeymoon suite, loudly arguing over who will be the first to crawl into bed with daddy, and she realises that this was not exactly what she’d had in mind for her first morning of wedded bliss.

Surely this couldn't happen to you, right? Well, if you intend to become a stepmother it just might!

To minimise the potential of such a rude awakening the number one suggestion I have for any prospective stepmum is: Look before you leap! Get to know your partner inside-out and spend as much time as possible with him when he is in the company of his kids. Then, be brave, put your emotions aside and take a good, hard lok at reality. How much do you REALLY want to have his children in your life? Remember, if you marry this man, his children and everyone connected with them, will also become a part of YOUR future!

Here are some questions to ask yourself that once answered, will help you make an informed decision:

  • How does the love of your life behave when his children are with him? Do you still feel like you are an important person in his world or does he turn into an over-indulgent stranger? Who calls the shots - him or the kids?
  • Does he have a civil relationship with his ex, or are they in constant conflict? How are they fighting their battles? Are their disagreements played out through their children?
  • Has he worked through the failure of his first marriage or is he still angry or bitter? Does it seem as though he carries a great sense of loss, guilt or resentment?
  • How does he feel about the possibility of having more children? Does he embrace the idea, or does he tell you that the number of kids he already has are more than enough?
  • Does he have the financial security required to support an expansion of your family should this be on you agenda? Will your income be needed to support his former family as well as the current one?
  • What are his expectations of you? Does he want you to become a surrogate mother to his children - someone to deal with all the mothering challenges but has none of the rights?
  • How do you envisage your life 5 years from now? Can you see yourself being happy given the restrictions, sacrifices, challenges and complexities that marrying a man with baggage will bring?
If you come up with a positive answer to these questions you stand a fair chance of not falling victim to the 60% second-marriage divorce rate. If not, you’d be well advised to carefully rethink your relationship intentions. All of you - your partner, his children and you - deserve the best. If partnering means one of you needs to make massive sacrifices, the potential for this to cause insurmountable conflict and resentment is too great for a happy outcome. You only live once. Look before you leap!


Blending Families said...

Thank you for your post. You offer very sensible questions for prospective stepmoms. Blending families is hard and it would take a lot of patience to make things work favorably to everybody. But it does start simply with being able to work out on some of the gray areas in your life as a couple.

Alexandra said...

Man I wish I had answered those questions before selling my house, moving my daughter in with this new "family" and brought our two lives together... I can answer negatively to many questions, if not all of them....