In the November edition of Stepmom Magazine, there’s an article entitled “Caught in the Crossfire;What Every Stepmom Should Know About Her Partner’s Pain.” There were plenty of times my husband felt stuck in the middle of the people he loved most.
My husband thought once we married, his kids would immediately embrace me as their new mom, as it were. He obviously knew they had a mom who loved them, but he hoped I’d be their “other” mom. Of course, it did not happen that way. The love between his kids and me did not develop overnight— in fact, it took years to grow. This created tension for my husband. Here we were, the three people he loved the most in the world and who loved him completely, yet we didn’t feel that way about each other. He was caught in the middle on many occasions.
The one event that stands out most in my memory is when we were newly married and getting ready to having our first “family” movie night. I was looking forward to this experience with my brand new ready-made family. We had the big, comfy, red couch I chose for my new family room in my new home, warm, fuzzy blankets to curl up in, and the hot popcorn and hot cocoa all made to complete the image. We were ready to sit down as a family to watch a movie, and the next thing I knew, both kids were fighting over who got to sit with Dad.
I guess that’s what it was— an image rather than a reality. The reality was two young children who did not know me or want me in their lives. These were two children who were not open to a new “parent” entering their safe, familiar world, and my poor husband did not know what to do with all three of his favorite people looking at him longingly.
Until I read this article, I never gave much thought to how hard the family blending was on him. I only knew it was stressful for his kids and me. I knew he felt particularly bad that night and there have been other incidents where he has intervened in arguments between his son and me, fearing our fights would lead to us not liking each other anymore.
Nevertheless, I didn’t understand these issues were probably causing him distress. One quote from this article really struck me: “Many men in re-partnerships exclaim, ‘I had no idea it would be this hard!’ They feel as though their wives
are perpetually mad at them, their exes harass them nonstop, and their children need or want more time with them.” That all sounds exactly how my husband must have felt.
As I’ve said so many times, I wish this magazine had been around in the beginning of my stepmom role. We are ten years in and quite well blended now, feeling love all the way around. But, this advice could have helped me be more sensitive to his plight, rather than just the kids and my struggle. I never thought about it from his perspective. I think I owe my wonderful, patient hubby a hug with an apology, and a big thank you 🙂