Stepfamily life is tough. The only thing that is tougher than blending the family is keeping your marriage intact. Statistics vary from a 50% to 75% divorce rate in a marriage where there are children from a prior relationship. Anyone who is a member of a stepfamily will attest that they had no idea what they were getting into. Parenting and the relationship with the ex will often take the front and center role in your life. In fact, you may find that parenting and the ex are the only things you talk about. Why? Because both of these subjects are ones where we all have strong opinions. We may not even realize that we have such deep-seated opinions until we are in a stepparent role. Whatever we have seen or heard from our childhoods and the media mixes into a brew full of passionate opinions: on both sides.
There is a secret that can stop the arguing before it begins. Three magic words can avoid the entire heartbreak. If you think it is 'I love you', you would be wrong. The three magic words are:
"I TRUST YOU."
"I trust that you know your children and you will make the best decisions for them.
I trust you will protect me.
I trust that you know how to handle your ex."
"I TRUST YOU."
No truer or scarier words were ever spoken. The truth is that living in a stepfamily means giving up control. It means going with the flow, even if we think we know better. It means giving the decision-making control to some people who we may not even know. Or worse, it means giving up control to people that we think we do not like or trust. For those of us that have a deep-seated need for certainty in our lives, this is a terrifying prospect. (Google The Six Human Needs) Even if we say that we trust our partners, actually giving up control is a whole other matter. Is it possible that we dislike the ex because she has control over portions of our life?
The real truth is that the parents probably know what is best even if we have fantastic ideas on how to raise our stepchildren. We may have objective, rational suggestions on how to handle the relationship with the ex. In fact, we may be right. Either way, it is none of our business. It comes down to trust and faith in the future. When we lose the trust in our partners, we lose a key to our marriages. When we think we know better, our egos take over and the heart is left behind. When you let your partners know you trust them, their faith in themselves grows. Your relationship strengthens and you have more time for the things you want to do. Resentment lessens as you take that leap of faith. I trust that you can do it.