10 Ways to Support Your Wife as a Stepmom

Written by Mike Jantzen


supportstepmomI just asked my wife how long she has been a stepmom. She knew almost down to the second:
“Four years, four months and four days.” She’s done a lot in her life: run half marathons, earned a master’s degree, even changed the oil on fifty trucks a day for a summer job, but nothing has challenged her as much as being a stepmother to my two boys who come every weekend.

She has risen to the challenge remarkably, but it’s been a journey. Sometimes she has felt alone and misunderstood. To stand by her, I’ve had to figure out what she really needs from me. Having a blended family is still incredibly hard, but our teamwork and communication has gotten a whole lot stronger.


Further reading: My wife’s story of fighting her way out of resentment.

Here are 10 things to remember as you support your wife as a stepmom:

1. She needs time to grow in unconditional love. This kind of love is twice as hard for her. It doesn’t flow naturally in her veins for your kids. You are able to forgive and have patience with them much more easily because they’re your flesh and blood. Don’t expect her to be a bubbling, joyful, loving stepmother all the time. Give love time to grow.

2. She needs you to listen patiently to her disappointments. She is always settling for less than she hoped for. You may have been a great catch, but what tagged along shattered some of her dreams. No woman dreams of sharing finances between two households, or of always having another woman’s schedule and decisions affect her life. Her romantic ideals did not include having dates with you interrupted with text messages from your ex.

3. She needs you to be her cheerleader, not her critic. The “evil stepmother” is the exception, not the norm. Most stepmoms work really hard at their role; they want this messy thing called the blended family to actually work. Your wife is probably already working on trying to improve. She might even feel like a failure. If you have to bring up a recurring problem, do it over a romantic dinner and first tell her how amazing she is.

4. She and the kids need time to work out their relationship themselves. Men like to fix things, but when it comes to blended family relationships, this can really backfire. Well-intentioned suggestions are easily taken as implied criticism and can make a stepmother feel bad about herself. It can also feel pushy to her and the kids. At the root of such suggestions is often frustration and impatience. This isn’t something you can fix quickly.

5. She needs your back up. Stepmoms don’t gain respect the instant they form a new family unit. Respect is usually earned over the long haul. If she corrects the kids or says ‘no’ to their latest request, tell them, “You heard what your stepmom said!” If you disagree, tell her privately and gently. If the kids act defiantly toward her, make sure they know you are just as much a part of the decision. Form a united front and don’t budge.

6. She needs you to notice her efforts. It’s always a good idea to show appreciation to your partner, but when she’s a stepmom, it’s even more vital. She may not receive hugs and kisses or “I love yous” from the kids too often. Model appreciation: “Thank you for cooking this amazing dinner for us!” Remind your kids to say “thank you” as well. When you’re alone together, layer on the praise and be specific. “You sure work hard at putting those lunches together for school.” “Thank you for being so patient when this place becomes a zoo each weekend.”

7. She needs you to listen without taking things personally. I’m sure you’ve been there—your partner is upset and telling you all about it, but then you suddenly get defensive; your pride takes a hit because you’ve begun to take it personally. You feel like she’s asking for a life that you can’t provide. When this happens, remember: she’s not attacking you. She just needs to express and process her frustrations with blended family dynamics. Keep your skin thick but your heart soft.

8. She needs you to respect her view of the situation. Your take on the situation is incomplete. The way you see things has been shaped by your past experiences with your former spouse. You also have an array of emotions that effect how you communicate with your ex. Your partner can offer fresh perspective and valuable wisdom as you navigate decisions as a team or try to solve conflicts with your former spouse. She’ll feel validated when you seek her advice.

9. She needs a place to call her own. Kids have a way of taking over a house. Every room becomes a playground, and it can feel like they only have two volumes: loud and louder. We all need space to stay sane, but as a stepmom, your wife needs it even more. She may not be used to the chaos, so carve out a space that’s just for her—a room that’s off limits to the kids or buy her a new reading chair for your bedroom. Then she’ll have more energy to offer the family.

10. She needs you all to herself more than once in a while. With the divorce rate for second marriages even higher than for first marriages, it is crucial that you carve out time to be together: book a night away; keep a regular date night; take a trip occasionally. Make sure to schedule it or it won’t happen. When you get away, just focus on each other; don’t talk about the mess. Only respond to emergency calls or texts. Protect your time together so you can stay together and beat the odds.

As you work at remembering and prioritizing your wife’s needs, she will feel respected, understood and cared for. She will become even more motivated to become the very best stepmother she can. Your marriage will become a source of strength and joy as you face even the toughest challenges in your blended family, and your kids will have a greater sense of security as they witness what a healthy marriage looks like.

devo-interact-icon-42x421Take Today’s Next Steps:

Are you feeling lost in your blended family? Talk to a mentor. It’s confidential and free.

How my wife fights against resentment.

My story of feeling like a failure at marriage again.

Blended Family: Caring for the Wounded.

124 Responses to “10 Ways to Support Your Wife as a Stepmom”

  • Danielle says:

    Hi my name is Danielle I have been in my relationship for a year and a half my boyfriend loved with me for 6 months even tho he owned his own home after the first 6 months of living with me we sat down and had a deep conversation about how it would make more sense to move into his house together I have to admit I made some bad choices and those bad choices were having a drug abuse problem with pills in which he new about and even at times would do them with me. He chose to stop shortly after we started dating but I did not. I have 2 daughters ages 7 and 13 and he has 3 children the oldest being 21 and living on his own and doing great and then he has another son 15 in which he gets for a few hours on Tuesday night and overnight Thursday night and Friday night and his daughter which will be 17 in just under 5 months but she stopped coming over in September 2015 because she got caught dating a 18 year old and my boyfriend was not OK with it but when he tried talking to her and her mother about it his daughter told him it was her life not his and he couldn’t tell her who to date and her mother kept encouraging her to date this guy knowing how it made my boyfriend feel she stopped coming over after that and he would call her and text her multiple times everyday asking and telling her she needed to come see him on his visits but she still refused because dad wasn’t OK with her dating but her mom was so after two weeks of her not coming around my boyfriend had called her mother his ex wife and told her it wasn’t right she was 15 years old she shouldn’t be dating and she the ex wife shouldn’t encourage it and that his daughter needed to start coming over his ex wife and mother of his 2 youngest children then said well she don’t want to come over because of your junky girlfriend your daughter told me that a few weeks prier to her being caught with this 18 year old you left her at your house which is the home we live in and she went upstairs onto your room and went threw your whore of a girlfriend beurrow and found a slate with a straw so u can blame it all on your junky whore girlfriend. meening myself. So I guess you better make a choice and my boyfriend sat down with me and told me about this and told me that I was better than that and that he knew it wasn’t because of that completely it had a lot to do with his 15 year old daughter at the time being with an 18 year old guy knowing it wasn’t OK and wasn’t approved my dad but he asked me to make better choices for myself and our family so I realized that he was right I am a better person than that and I deserve better than those bad choices so I stopped after 2and a half months of being sober we hit a ruff patch and I relapesed but I told him that same day that I messed up I didn’t touch anything until the weekend after mother’s day why did I because i didn’t realize that there was more bothering him until the night before mothers day when he just left and started texting me all these meanbthings telling me I can’t do this anymore my kids hate you my daughter hasn’t came around in months because of what she found in our room its all your fault my kids feel you don’t like them and so forth and so forth I didn’t not realize that I was over stepping my boundaries as a step mom by saying don’t talk to me like that I didn’t mean to make anyone feel as if I didn’t care about them his daughter has came to the house 3 times in the last 8 months and it seemed we were making progress inthaught she was opening up to me and hanging out with but but at the same time my boyfriend was still telling me that his kids hated me and wanted me gone anyways a week after mothers day a week of begging for him to come back home and talk to me about everything because I honestly had no clue as to what was happening because I did choose to better myself for myself and my family did I get professional help to do it no I thought I was strong enough anyways after the week of begging for him to work this out and talk about things I felt so abandoned and alone and misunderstood I felt like I lost my life long partner the only man I can say I truly love I relapsed for the second time in 6 months and now I know that I can’t beat this addiction on my own and have chosen to get professional help but his daughter has all of a sudden stopped talking to me completely and has now told her father that the only way she will start to come and stay one night a week is if me and my girls arnt hear in which I know puts him in a hard spot because bit is his child and he has told me that we are going to get through this all together and that we can make it through it but because his soon to be 17 year old daughter gave him a ultamatum he feels he has to do what she says and instead of us being adults and sticking together through these rough times he feels that for his daughter I and my girls should find our own place so he doesn’t loose anymore time with his daughter but we can still work through this and make it he says I feel so lost and confused why would you keep giving your kids the control of our relationship and our life how are two people that love each other the way we do suppose to be able to work on this and become stronger together if he keeps letting his 17 year old make the decisions of our relationship I have tried to talk to her to apologize for my wrong desions and say I’m sorry for making her feel the way she is but she won’t have it and her mother is telling her not to bother because I’m a peace is sh*t and people like me will never change I want nothing more than to fix my family and keep bettering myself is that so wrong

  • Laura says:

    Before my husband and I were in a relationship,he made his BabyMama pregnant (One Night Stand). We were together when she told him, and I asked him if he wanted to continue with our relationship, or get back together with his BM. He said that he loves me and I am the one he wants to be with.
    We got married and the BM never wanted anything to do with my husband. He just had to provide for the child financially and was not allowed to see him.
    I recently asked my husband if he wants to see his child and he’s reply was “Yes”
    I know that he wants to, but at the same time, I feel like a failure as a wife, as I have PCOS and cannot get pregnant.
    When I look at pictures of the child, I cannot look at him for long, because it is a reminder that I cannot give my husband a child.
    I feel as if I am the reason he is not fighting the BM to see his child. I don’t like feeling like this, I also don’t like the fact that I am indirectly keeping this child from his father.
    I am heavily contemplating ending my marriage for the sake of this little boy. I know the option of seeing him on weekends would be ideal. But I don’t think I would be able to handle seeing my husband interact with his son knowing that I cannot give him a child.
    I feel like the worst person in the world. But how do I sacrifice my feelings and try not to resent this little boy because I cannot have a child of my own?

  • Chris says:

    tamara flanagan….sorry to hear of this situation…you are totally within your right to not want to see this child until you are ready, if you ever are ready to. this situation isnt something that you have to accept into your life since its a result of your husbands adultery and that isnt something you need to be facing. take your time to adjust to this new circumstance you hadnt planned on in your marriage and for now tell your husband that you would rather not have the child in your home. praying for jesus peace in your heart now and the liberty of the holy spirit to be led only by him for you! 2 corinthians 3.17, bye for now!

  • Tamara Flanagan says:

    Hi, ive been with my husband for almost 11 years and married for 5. We have two kids together and found out last year he has a son. We were in a state of shock. Me im still in that state. He is the same age as our daughter, 6. We are highschool sweethearts. And even though we have two the same age we was in high school not serious even when i found oit i was pregnant. We got serious/married after her 1 yr birthday. But since i dont have anyone to express myself to im lost on how to accept this. Me and my husband talk about it but it goes into a argument. He thinks i dont want him around and im just telling him i need time to adjust. He spoke to someone from church and he gave him some advice on how to allow me to swallow this pill. And we have been doing better. He tells me when he gets him or ask if its ok for him to come over. But why am i still scared or feeling out of place. I wont to over come this dont know what im scared of. Are my emotions wrong?

  • Sydney says:

    Four months ago my husband was awarded full legal and physical custody of his 13-year-old daughter. I had pushed him for years to do this, for his ex-wife’s life choices were damaging his kids’ lives. We had lived alone until now, my 24-year-old daughter is long gone and in graduate school. Long story short, his other daughter stayed with her mother to finish her last year’s of high school and the 13-year-old moved across the country to live with us and have a fresh start at life.

    My husband and I had been together five years, with his daughters only intermittent in our lives due to their mother’s control. We had never really had a chance to get to know each other because of the limited time we spent together and the hatred their mother has had for me since the beginning. Btw, their mother has never taken me up on offers to meet and get to know me. But, her hatred followed the girls. . .

    Flash forward to today and a teenager with a damaged sense of self and a messy upbringing is living with us. Fresh start time. I welcomed her with open arms, but now I have many of the “feelings” you describe above. Ugh. I felt like for a wench that I miss sitting alone on my favorite sofa (now her favorite place to hang out), having a martini without guilt, or just laughing at an R-rated tv show with my husband. Good to know that I am not alone and that I can hang up my wench hat.

    I will share this article with my husband and hope that it helps us to understand some things. I have much to learn and will wear out my rosary beads praying until we get through this–together.

    Thank you! (:

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Lord Jesus, I pray for Memo and her family. I pray that You would work in the lives of her husband and step-kids, and that You would help Memo know how to respond to the hurt she feels. Bring people in their lives who can help them grow in love and respect for one another. Amen.

    Hi Memo, do you have people around who support and encourage you? Have you and your husband looked into getting some marriage/family counselling?

  • memo says:

    Thank you , for this powerful article. I thank God for people like you, because articles like these give us hope, wn we are in despair. Being a step mom sometime is really emotionally and spiritually draining, you feel like the walls are closing on you as you become the family’s number one enemy. Everything you do is scrutinized and analysed. I want to write more,,but i feel so much pain. I surrender my family to God. Thank you.

  • Aldo says:

    Felisha, thank you for your appreciation for the article, and for your encouragement to others who are in the same situation.

    May God use your words to minister closure to many others.

  • Felisha Valdez says:

    This page basically said everything I couldn’t! I sent this to my husband and brought a little closure to our ongoing battle. I am a step mom to 3 beautiful girls, with no children of my own. So these articles remind me I’m not alone.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Kgothatso, there is nothing that can break you apart if you are committed to each other and willing to work through things together. If you two are going to commit your lives to each other, his daughter is always going to be a part of your relationship. So it makes sense that you need to explore together how you are going to grow together as a family. Allowing feelings of ‘hate’ for your fiance’s daughter is going to undermine your ability to commit yourself to inviting her into your life. You only have four days a month that you are able to build a relationship with this girl, so take advantage of those days. Invest yourself in her and learn to know her as she grows and matures. She will respond positively to the love and care you show her, and your fiance will be so grateful that you would invite her into your family. If those four days both of you are focusing your attention on this little girl, you will be doing things together and it will not seem like she is coming between you, but instead she will be drawing you close together.

    So talk to your fiance about his daughter. Find out from him how the three of you can build a family together in those four days/month. Make sure that little girl feels a part of your family when she is with you. Understand from her point of view that these four days are an upheaval of her normal life. If she feels cherished by you and your fiance, then it will create a safe place for her to be and she will thrive there.

    Let me pray for you: Dear Jesus, I pray for Kgothatso as she tries to discern how to build a relationship with her fiance’s daughter. Give her a heart full of love for this young one who is going through the difficulty of a blended family. Give her wisdom to know how to work together with her fiance to make their home a safe, warm, inviting place for this girl. Lead them to deeper levels of communication and understanding as they work through this issue together. Comfort this little girl as she tries to find her place in two families. Amen.

  • Kgothatso says:

    Just to add on my mail, the last time i kissed my man infront of his daughter, the daughter beat mt hand. but what do we call her that. my Fiance says she is only 2 years old so we can not blame her on a lot of things or he can not leave her all alone and focus on me because she is only two years old and needs full attention. Please feel free to judge me during your comments. Thanks

  • Kgothatso says:

    Hi Everyone and thank you all for your posts.

    My fiance has a 2 years old daughter with his baby mama(now ex). they had already broken up when i got in the relationship and his was refused to see his daughter. when i got in to the relationship with him this got worse from the baby mamas side telling him that he will never see his daughter unless he is an “FULL TIME” father which is being with her. Months went with my fiance being hopeful that the BM will come around to a day where he told me that he can not without his daughter, he waqs totally miserable and empty. he said maybe the right thing was to secrified his own happiness (being with me) for the happiness of her daughter because she does not deserve all that. I left the house and respected his decision. i was TORN, i was soooo hurt. mind you this was before we got engaged. the very necxt day after i left he called me and told me that he was sorry for all he said, they seemed right at the point he said them and he let his emotions take over. Me and his Baby Mama exchanged words a lot of times and i was very tired. OKAY we got back together and i advised him to take the matter to the childrens court. we got assistance and an aggrement that my fiance sees the child every second and third weekend was put on paper. He was VERY happy, i was happy that he was happy as well. Now we are engaged and the child visits us on those set weekend. I do not know how i feel those weekends, My man gives his daughter 1000% attention and i feel left out. i think i am also overwhelmed about the duties when she is around but my fiance told me that he appreciates the little that i was doing and i do not have to do what i cannot do or do much that i can not cope. We always just lazy around on the couch in our space on weekends and do nothing. now the child has just crowded our space . its “daddy this daddy that” , i also want to lie ontop of my man. i spoke to my fiance about my feelings and he apologies and said he did not notice that he never given me attention and says that maybe he is overwhelmed of everything because its been LONG PERIOD with him not seing his child. He said it has only been three weekends with the child visiting and trust he will get used to the feeling with time. I do not want to believe that i am starting to hate my step child because he takes my man away from me four days a month. I always fight with my Fiance in those weekends that his daughter is around. :( and i believe it will break us apart. Please help me, am i being a cry baby? am i being unreasonable? what should i do??

  • Alfred says:

    Hi Tim. How refreshing to realize that God used this article to help you and your wife! Nothing of value in this life is easy, and I pray that your efforts in supporting her will pay off. Are you thanking God daily for helping to make your home a great place to live? Do you have family worship with Bible reading & prayer? That is often the best way to pass on Spiritual values. It sets the atmosphere and tone for the entire family. In spite of all these successes, you may consider logging into “knowingjesuspersonally.com” to help you in Spiritual growth. Blessings.

  • Tim says:

    I came across this article while doing some searches on step-parenting. I am the father and my 14 year old daughter came to live with us recently. My wife has been dealing with her being disrespectful while I was out on a business trip recently. We got into an argument that was pretty heated. While I was mad and sitting in my room searching the web on the issue, I came across this page. Wow, it was so eye opening to see it from the step-parents point of view. I feel so selfish for not giving my wife the appreciation she deserves. She loves my daughter as if her own and I took it all for granted. Thank you for this great read. I even have it printed out hanging in my office at work to remind me of what I need to do to be a better support system for my wife. Thanks again!

    Tim

  • Chris says:

    Jessica….so sorry to hear of this situation…the way i see it, the plain fact of the matter here is your husband is the father to these two boys, you are not their mother. as such you do not need to feel responsable for them although your heart is wonderful in trying to help raise them. however this is a burden before God you are not responsable to carry. your husband may not see it that way but there is no truth clearer. many times our human relationships suffer because we are not veritically connected to God our creator and father and therefore we do not love as he would have us to and lay heavy burdens upon others as jesus told the pharisees that they had done to the jewish people they had been originally appointed to lead and guide, not oppsress and demand. if you have met yet this wonderful jesus who has come to liberate us from the burdens people try to put upon us, you can log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above to do so today. praying now that you find your peace, joy and comfort in knowing christ personally and his great love for you and that your husband would receive him as well. blessings!

  • Chris says:

    malia l….so sorry to hear of your situation…there truly is a lot of selfishness in general in people and sadly that doesnt leave just when someone marries. i suppose that where the idea came to include in the marriage vows…for better or for worse. yet i believe God has a better way for marriages to function if we will give heed to his instructions in the bible since its there that marriage was begun. as you are seeing, changing a mate to think as you would like them to isnt very easy if not impossible. that is why we need to look to God to join us to the right person in life since he has a plan for every detail of our lives including whom we would marry. by logging onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or by clicking talk to a mentor above, you can begin your own personal victorious relationship with jesus today and then have Gods help in knowing what to do about your current living situation. praying you get help today since jesus arms are open wide to you and he is waiting to intervene on your behalf. blessings!

  • Chris says:

    robin…sorry to hear you are struggling so….of course firm agreements should be signed in these cases to avoid financial discrepancies but it is hard to cover every single detail in these situations. personally, i believe God allows certain situations in life so that we realize we cant live the life we are living without his help. whether its life as a single person, married person or divorced and remarried person, a wise person will see that living outside of Gods love, mercy and assistance is simply not going to be an option. my suggestion to you is to log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above so you can begin including jesus into your life and marriage. that way he will bear these burdens for you that are too heavy for you to carry. praying now that you see jesus as the real answer to your every need. blessings!

  • Chris says:

    susan…i regret to hear you are struggling…if first time marriages have their challenges, we can imagine how 2nd time marriages can be especially with children from the first marriage. things can get a bit complicated. one thing i think in these situations that is so important that you respect what your husband wants to do and he respects what you want to do even if that means a few days apart visiting and spending time with whom you want to. having a happy marriage doesnt have to mean 24 hours a day, 365 days a year together. the saying absence making the heart grow fonder does have some truth to it. i am not saying weeks, but a few days away just as a traveling salesman has to do with his family at times, isnt the end of the world but could even make your world a better one. at the same time, we must see that husbands and wives will never fully agree on everything. that is why we must commend them to God who made them and seek from our sides to have our own personal relationship with christ even if they dont want to since again, marriage doesnt mean we be in 100 percent agreement with our mates. i would recommend you logging onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or clicking talk to a mentor above so that you can begin the one relationship that is more important than any other, your relationship with jesus christ our wonderful lord and savior. as jesus said, even if we would have the whole world at our feet and the best marriage on the planet, what would it profit if we lost our own souls in our sins. praying now you would see your greatest need to be jesus so he can take your other needs and help resolve them for and with you. blessings!!

  • Robin says:

    My husband and I have been married for almost 5 years. We each have 3 children from previous marriages. 3 of them are grown and 3 live at home (1 of mine and 2 of his). The children live with their other parents every other week. We are adjusting to a blended family pretty well. There have definitely been challenging moments over the years and much doubt on my side. I’ve doubted myself as never before.
    My problem is my husband’s ex-wife and his complacency when it comes to decisions involving her. Both he and I work very hard to have a nice home and give the kids a great childhood. We take vacations, his kids go to private school (which we pay 2/3 of).
    His ex-wife has been a “job hopper” for years. Never stays at the same job for more than a year- lives from paycheck to paycheck while keeping the kids in a very expensive private school.
    My husband pays child support for one child at this point- as his middle child is now 19 and going to college. Even though we have shared custody with 50% of time at our home (there is no domiciliary designation). He has always made more money so have the obligation for child support which I understand. However, we also pay 2/3 of tuition for the private school and 2/3 of any medical bills or other expenditures. All fine and dandy right?
    Well if that was it- it would be. But here is where I’m conflicted and it gets messy. A few years ago (yes it was a while back) she chose to send her son to a doctor that was not in our network of doctors (we also pay 100% of their insurance). It caused her to have a huge bill because rather than use the in-network she didn’t. A mere $15.00 co-pay became a $200 visit each time. My husband told her that he would not pay for out of network because it was her choice and the in network docs were perfectly good.
    Well- this lead to much fussing and ill will and she has never forgotten it.
    Next- his middle daughter needed braces- we had to pay 100% of that because the ex would not. Next- his oldest son was given a truck by us- she would not pay a penny to help us out with insurance. We took care of the entire thing.
    So now the middle daughter has been given a car by her mom (ex-wife). Guess what? My husband has been paying at least 1/2 of the insurance behind my back!!! I found out recently that she is asking for more money for the insurance because she had a buy a new vehicle and the daughter’s insurance went up. Really! I am furious! My husband says he is only being a responsible father and that I have hatred for his exwife in my heart. Please help! Am I completely off my wagon?
    Mind you this ex-wife is always sending my husband text messages about me in a negative manner and telling the children that I am manipulative when all I do is give them my unconditional love and affection- take care of them and give them a wonderful home.

  • Susan says:

    Sigh… These are all good points and my spouse tries to do most of them, but somehow I’m feel exhausted by it all and wonder if I can keep doing this. We’ve been married 3.5 years. My spouse has two young girls that are with us every other week, but their mother is unstable and moves around a bit which disrupts all of our lives. My spouse still has fantasies that the four of us will be that dream family, and that is hard to bump up against. It leads to disappointment. I was told today that my spouse feels second rate because we have planned any family trips yet albkigh I’ve mentioned planning a special trip with my niece this summer because she is graduating. My niece is the closet thing I have to my own child and she is very important to me so wth!? Sigh… I think my steroids and I are doing pretty good together but my spouse has these other visions and can’t give things time to develop. Idk, I’m tire of competing with the fantasy of the ideal family with the realities of a blended family which are challenging. I might have to throw in the towel. I’m tired of disappointing my spouse because I don’t always want to be with the kids or spend every spring break, holiday break, summer break as a family unit. I need a break and I have my niece that is special to me that I like to spend quality time with as well. Not sure what to do. Feels like such a mess!

  • Elkay says:

    Jessica, I wish I had some great words to give you and make the challenging situation you are in better but I honestly don’t. From a practical stand-point, can you carve out some free time during the week for yourself? If the boys are not school-age, can you get a daytime babysitter to watch them for a time while you take a break?

    More words from you to your husband probably will not change him but prayers can and Jesus told us to “Seek first the Kingdom of God” so this is what we do. “Abba Father, Jessica is in a hard place and needs to feel Your loving hand. Please help her to know that by sacrificially giving of herself to care for two young stepsons, she is emulating Christ as He gave Himself for us and that in this way she is storing up treasures in heaven. Give her a gracious attitude that will get her husband’s attention and cause him to assume his duties as her mate and also take on his fatherly responsibilities. Cause any resentment to disappear by showing her that she is chiefly working for You as her Lord and carrying out the tasks You have assigned her. Thank You that her stepsons express their love for her and may this encourage her greatly. This we pray in the glorious name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

  • Jessica says:

    I am currently in a relationship and stepmom to two young boys. my husband works weekends so he only sees the boys Friday night and Saturday night. I pick them up and drop them off and I do this because he works long days and I feel like the boys really need to see him and he needs to spend time with them. I often don’t make plans or cancel my plans on the weekends because the boys are at our house and I watch them. I work during the week and I try to get a lot of errands and such done then so I have weekends free. But I recently expressed to my husband that I need a weekend a month that I don’t watch the boys that way I can have some me time and get things done around the house or see some friends. He became very defensive like I hate the kids and it’s a burden to watch them. I don’t feel like that at all but I do feel like to be the best I can be, I need time to myself every so often. Also on some weekend my husband goes out with the guys from work every night and comes home around midnight and the boys are already in bed so he doesn’t see them. I tried to not say anything about it but it does bother me like I am the babysitter but mostly I believe his priorities might be in the wrong place. I believe he needs to spend time with his boys. I love the boys very much and they always tell me they love me and I’m the best stepmom but I do feel like I’m just a daycare center and there is resentment now. Any advice of how to handle the situation? I have expressed my concerns but I don’t feel like I am heard.

  • Aldo says:

    Malia, you may be displaying a certain amount of selfishness in that your thoughts are self-centered. Instead of allowing the children’s comments, which you have stated, cause you anguish, you can turn things around by showing sensitivity and compassion for their loss in being separated from those times and loved ones which brought them so much joy. You would not only endear the children to yourself in time, like Maria in The Sound of Music, but you would also have a house you’ll be able to ultimately call your own.

    May God give you wisdom in dealing with the situation.

  • Malia L. says:

    This article really helped me feel justified in the way I’ve been feeling lately. So, thank you. My partner and I have been together for 3 years and I’ve been apart of his youngest daughters life since she was 2 (now she is 4). He has an older daughter, 8, from a different mother. We live together and are looking for a new house together however, I’ve been feeling as though this might be a bad decision for me. We’ve been discussing our new home for over a year now and just recently he told me that he wanted to buy his youngest daughters mom’s house. It’s not in the area we discussed. It’s not any cheaper than our budget. I expressed to him that I would love to have a place to call my own and a home, to me, is somewhere you feel safe and comfortable in. It’s a big investment, not just talking money. He said it was selfish of me to think so “inside the box.” However, I feel like this is a pretty reasonable feeling to have. I already feel like an outcast around his kids sometimes when they have to talk about their mothers. I don’t want to live in a house where they can say, “my mom did this here, my mom and I did this there, this used to be my mom’s room… etc”
    I would love to just have my home be MY home WITH them. Is that being too selfish or am I being unreasonable?

  • Katie says:

    This is a very helpful article. I’ve been a stepmom to three young boys for a couple of years now. I’m fortunate to have a husband who mostly understands and follows through with the points you listed above, but I wanted to give you kudos for these insights. They are really accurate and go such a long way in helping a stepmom feel valued and heard. Thank you.

  • Kidi says:

    Thank you very much but I feel like throwing the towel as I was told that how can my step child talk back at me when his not around and for her to like me I have to give her money and should put on my big panties and act like an adult how does one do that when the step child is not talking to me and not eating my food .she told me that she does not enjoy staying with me except his dad and when i told him this he just smiled so i took my bag and left ….until he sees what she’s doing nothing will ever come right ..

  • Michael Jantzen says:

    Hi Brett,

    I’m glad you found the article useful. Your situation does sound tough. It’s a bit of a catch 22. You want to support both ladies in your life, but support for one feels like lack of support for the other. How much is your daughter’s mother in the picture? It can be hard to view another parent as an authority figure if the daughter feels like her loyaty is divided.

    I don’t think you can force your daughter to actually feel respect towards your fiance. That would hopefully grow with time. But for now, you two can portray a united front and not budge. I would suggest making the expectations and rules around the house super obvious so your daugher knows she can’t play semantics about what is asked of her. Then, if the rules are broken, you take your fiance’s word for it. We were all kids once; they aren’t to be fully trusted, expecially when they are fighting for every inch of freedom they can get. Then instead of your fiance giving the consequence, you can take away one of your daughter’s priviledges when you get home. If you get married, then eventually, your wife could be giving the consequnces too, but for now, I believe the authority should rest on your shoulders. If your fiance wants to always be liked by your daughter, then she may want to rethiink her expectations. Teens often don’t even like their biological parents during that phase of life. I would encourage you to talk with one of our free and confidential mentors. Just click on the link to the above right if you’re interested. Take care!

  • Brett says:

    I just came across this article and it gives some good insight. I am having a really hard time finding anything online that relates to my situation. I’m a single father and have majority custody with my daughter ( very rare ). I’ve been dating my now fiancé for 3 years. We purchased a house together just last year and moved in. Our relationship is great and she has a good relationship with my daughter most of the time. However my daughter thinks of her as a sister more than a motherly/athorative figure in her life. They both get along great when we are doing something they both want to do but not so good when chores or tasks are put on the table. My daughter also has a tendacy to not listen to her when I am not around. My fiancé just told me that we can’t get married until my daughter can start respecting her more and not defying her. ( talking back to her when I’m not here, saying she doesn’t have listen to her and that she will just ask me instead, and so on) I don’t know how to change my daughters feelings. I’ve had multiple talks with her and she says how much she loves my fiancé and wants her around always. But my daughters attitude is slowly driving her away from my daughter and now myself. Is there anyone in my situation that can offer any advice? It’s really hard because most of the problems seem to arise when I have stepped out of the house even for just a few minutes. I come home and they are both trying to talk to me about the situation and it’s always a she said this and she said this situation and I can’t vouch for either one of them because I didn’t see what happened. I always have my fiancé’ back and try to talk with my daughter but she always tells me she listened and my fiancé was the one that misunderstood. So it makes it hard on me to figure out what exactly happened.

  • Kate says:

    Dear Jennifer and Kidi,

    My heart goes out to you. I can sense the feelings that go with your situation, feeling shut out or sidelined, and the heartache that goes with that. I want to pray for you now:

    Heavenly Father, bless these two stepmoms with a refreshed sense of purpose and ideas of small things they may be able to do over time, with patience and perseverance, that may lead to breakthroughs in these difficult relationships. Help them to guard their hearts against bitterness, anger and self-doubt. Help them to see that You are their source of all love, endurance, patience, mercy and self-control. Give them quiet time each day in Your presence so that they can recharge their batteries and fill up on spiritual food that will sustain them, that way they can rejoice with You if there is a positive turn and they can rest in Your arms knowing You will comfort them even if things do not seem to get better. Help them to find local support, whether a community or church group, a close friend to confide in or a counselor to lend guidance. Bless them in every effort and help them to know that You are faithful and will be with them through every up and down. In Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen.

    I do hope you will find support locally and you are also welcome to request mentoring through our site, it would be someone to email with who would support you and pray for you. Is that something you’d like? Click on the Talk to a Mentor link on our page to request.

    Kate

  • Kidi says:

    I am a step mom to a six year old who comes only during school holidays and whenever she’s here she does not talk talk to .Will dish up food for her n she will go to daddy n tell him she doesn’t want my food that I cooked n he must cook .I am trying so hard but my husband does not see it .I suggested that I must go n buy clothes with her and so that we can chat my beloved husband Cleary told me she won’t like them .I don’t speak to this child at all n I feel like am not welcome when she is here .just yesterday I wanted to bath her and she bluntly said she does not want me to touch her and my husband stoop up and bathed her .I don’t know what to do

  • Jennifer says:

    This was a good article i got woth my husband about 3 years ago he has 3 kids he dont get to see one of them but the 2 comes over ever other weekend and its hard to be a step mom sometimes the kids just dont want to listen to me at times. Then his ex wife always calls and texts him and it aint even about the kids and when i say something im wrong for saying something he tells me that i knew before i got with him that he had to talk to her ya didnt think thay talk unless about the kids. He gives her anything she wants even if it aint for the kids but then im wrong when i say something to him about it. She always bring stuff up from when they was together and i hate that. He is fixed so we cant have kids and she always brings that up!

  • Chris says:

    andrea….being in your situation is not going to be easy. the only true mother your children are going to have is you and the only true father your step-kids will ever have is your husband so you shouldnt feel badly when you cant be a mother to children who you have not given birth to. however in all of our challenges, God is more than ready and willing to step in to help us if we invite him to do so. having Gods wisdom in difficult situations of life are imperative if we expect to enjoy our lives and not get them through them drudgingly. i would suggest logging onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or clicking talk to a mentor above to find out how to have God in your life personally, to be able to share him with your family and experience a united family in christ. its really the only way to live. praying you would and would report back on your next blog, the difference jesus has made in your life. bye for now!

  • Andrea says:

    I have stepkids and I love them. I also have two daughters from a previous relatioship, so I know and understand that my spouse and I can have difficulties being a step parent. But sometimes I don’t feel he understands me entirely. I hold back feelings and when my step kids do things, I don’t always tell him because he doesn’t get to see them often and I don’t want him to be mad at them when he does have them. I know kids will be kids and my kids know that they need to respect their step dad. Which for the most part I think they do but like I said kids will be kids and they don’t always listen to him. I sometimes feel like, I am failing at being a parent and a step parent. I feel like I am also not keeping up with my part of being a great wife. I feel helpless. :(

  • Shelly says:

    Michael,
    I just want to say thank you for this article!. I have been a step parent to a little boy for six years now (I met him when he was 1 years old, he is 8 now). And it is not an easy thing. Every ting you placed in your article is what I want from my husband. I have tried to explain to him that being a step parent is difficult, but he refuse to see how it is. Maybe I will have him read this article to get some understanding. Again thank you!

  • Aldo says:

    Thank you Michael for the excellent article on the support needed when dealing with Step-children. May it be used extensively in ministering to the many couples who find themselves in that situation, and have read the article. God bless.

  • Bulelwa says:

    Thank you so much for the article and everyone who shared personal experiences. It’s good to know that whatever I’m going through is common. Hearing other people’s struggles, I appreciate my own situation so much more and inspired to carry on, persevere and grow in love.

    All stay blessed

  • Michael Jantzen says:

    Hi Vanessa, first I want to say thank you for sharing so opening and that it’s wonderful that your marriage was restored. But of course, along with the joy of that reconciliation, is this messy situation.

    I would encourage you to connect with one of our confidential mentors: http://powertochange.com/experience/talk-to-a-mentor/

    But I do want to make a few comments. You are right not to want to be controlled and checked on like that. Maybe the need to know exactly what is happening stems from anxiety on her part. You cannot control this and nor should your lives be dictated by it. If the terms of their separation agreement stipulate more time with the kids, then you are very much in your rights to pursue legal action.

    If it’s come to the point of incessant messages from her, you could also say that you will give one update a weekend and only one and agree approximately about when that would be. This could be a boundary you set. She will not have all her texts answered but at least she will know to expect that one message from you guys. Well, that’s just one idea. I’d have to know more context to comment on the co-sleeping situation with the 8-year old. God bless!

  • Vanessa says:

    RE my latest post:my husband also wants his 8 year old ‘baby’ to share our bed.? He says his son used to sleep with dad when they were sharing the same house

  • Vanessa says:

    I’m a Stepmom to 2 boys.My husband’s ex wife is a very controlling person.She hates me even more because I am my husband’s 1st wife
    The kids are not allowed to come over every other weekend because of her jealously. Last week we emailed her requesting that the kids come over every 2nd weekend or we will take legal action. She now consent to the visits on condition that my husband or I make verbal contact with her throughout the weekend giving feedwwhat the kids (8 &11) are upto. This is just her way of her controlling spirit. If we don’t adhere to that we cannot see the kids. I disagreed and said no there will be no hourly check ins because we will not be manipulated or controlled. I suggested she can call the kids if she wants to talk to them.furthermore she wants my husband to be available when she says hop.eg.If her garden needs to be moved or she wants errands done and she calls my husband he better make sure he is available. I have put my foot down and said she will not longer make contact if there is no emergency. She can contact him via sms if she has something to say.Eg in 1 night she harassed us with about 50 she’s
    We did not reply because it had nothing to do with the kids but everything to do with her jealousy.Please also know that during their marriage my husband and I had no contact at all.She divorced him because she was seeing someone else.God restored my marriage. We divorced only because we were too young and not Christians. How do we resolve this issue with a controlling ex demanding on the hour telephonic feedback..
    I refuse to…

  • Chris says:

    emma…so sorry to hear of your struggles in your family situation…with blended families its true, we may not always like the living inheritance we receive as a part of a 2nd marriage situation. as the bible says, can a leopard remove its spots? how hard it is to stir a person in a different direction, Young or old, when they are used to going in a certain way. from what i have learned in life, there will be some situations we go through that really show us just how much we are helpless without Gods help in our lives and he truly does want to help us. the bible tells us that if God did not spare his own son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with jesus, give us all the other things we need to live in this world which would include wisdom on how to deal with tough problems, his love to love the unlovely, his grace to withstand those moments of not falling into desperation. i would encourage you to log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above so that you can begin living within all of the wonderful virtues christ has made avilable to you to see your family situation go from almost impossible to a joy in living. Jesús can do that for you as you let him into your heart today. bless you as you do!

  • Emma says:

    I have been married to my husband who has a 6yr old daughter for a year now, and we have a son together. I have read a lot of websites and articles about blended families but these ones are the best i have ever found. I wish there was some way my partner could land on this page because I obviously can’t tell him to read it or else i’d be the ‘evil stepmom’. I am glad to have read that I am not the only one who thinks it’s not right to think the only way you will be a great parent is by showering them with love and affection. That’s exactly what my husband does i guess by way of getting over his guilt for what happened to his previous relationship. His ex-partner was the one who messed around and that led to their separation (they were not married, just dating), but still he feels very guilty for his daughter and the situation she’s in. I am having to pay for all the lack of disciplining he has to do with his daughter. I feel sorry for her too, because I know this kind of parenting will probably leave the child to be self-centered, inconsiderate, and eventually face some painful reality checks in life. I tried to point that out mildly at one time, but it wasn’t taken lightly. It is difficult to always feel somebody’s second best, to feel like you’re intruding into an already established bond of father and daughter, second priority and preference, and that you’re only there to legitimize somebody into being someone who has a respectable life of happily married and has a family. I had no idea what i was getting myself into. None of these problems were what I thought I’d have to deal with. frustrations and resentments building up, but I hope to rise above the challenges and so help me God!

  • Michael Jantzen says:

    Hello Marisa and Maria,

    My heart was very saddened reading your stories. You have both clearly tried VERY hard to make it work, but it take two, and sadly, us men aren’t always self-aware, equipped or informed enough to put ourselves in our wife’s shoes and support her with dignity and respect. I truly hope my article won’t be the only article on this topic for long. Seems like there should be a book written about it!

    It may help to understand, from a man’s perspective, what kinds of things need to be worked through to survive and thrive in a second marriage. Here is my own personal story about that: http://issuesiface.com/family

    Take care!

  • Marisa says:

    I have been a stepmom for over 6 years. Before I got married, I found 15+ books about how I could be a great stepmom, support my husband, support & learn to love his kids, etc. — I bought and read them all. Going from being a single girl to a stepmom of 3 full-time kids is the hardest, most soul-crushing thing I have ever had to muddle through. This is THE FIRST article/book/blog/anything I have seen (after searching exhaustively) that addresses what a FATHER can do to help his new WIFE and KIDS get through it. I find that so interesting and also very sick and I’m pretty sure that’s why 70-75% of these marriages fail.

  • Maria says:

    My marriage has ended after 3 years because of this very issue. I left my husband … we have a son of our own … but he made no effort to stop the breakup. He chose as I knew he would … I never asked him to choose between us and his first life … I only ever asked him to give us all a balance.

    I was the “evil” stepmom because my husband was too obsessed in being the “fun” dad and so to no responsibility as a true father to my stepson. He only allowed “showers of love” and no discipline … I was not allowed to be a proper “mom” to my stepson. He had free range of the house and I had no right in saying anything against his behavior.
    I was yelled at…emotionally and financially abused over the years because his son and ex wife took preference and priority over ever matter. He was willing to pay for anything demanded of him by the ex while not even contributing to our own son’s medical aid.

    I tried hard to be a mom and wife but how can you when you are not allowed to have any say in the control of your own household and time to bond with me and our son was not considered unless it was the weekend where my stepson came over.

    It is so hard to love a man and have to make the decision to leave him because if you stayed any longer you would suffocate in an unhealthy environment…I have our 2 year old son to consider as well…what would he think as he grew up seeing dad yelling at mom every time she tried discipline his half brother? What respect would he have if I told him to eat or make his bed when he saw that I was not allowed to request the same from his half brother?
    When would we as a family ourselves go to the playground or spend time just being together … we hardly saw my husband on the weekends when my stepson was not there…and even on the weekends when my stepson was with us we could not do much together because of the age gap between the children. It was very lonely being married to someone you never really saw or did anything with you.

    I tried suggesting parenting classes and that was a big no on his side … nothing I suggested was right.

    I so wished he would open his eyes and see how he has now damaged a second family because of this. No one can understand unless they are in the shoes of the stepmom … no one can hear your internal screams to have someone understand … it’s not the stepchild that causes you to eventually breakdown and leave, yet you are seen as the “monster” who could not adapt or handle it …the one who should not have gotten married because you should have known what you were getting yourself into … the truth is you never really knew. All you did wrong was to fall in love with someone who had a child from a previous marriage. You think you have fallen in love and all your dreams will be coming true … you have a great guy and a great new child … a family all in one go … then the problems start creeping in and there is no one prepared to listen to your side.

    Thank you for the article … it takes away the guilt you feel and the constant battle you have inside in thinking maybe you were the problem … it makes you take pride in who you are again and makes you realize you are a good mommy and you could only have tried so much … you did the best you could.

    Now it is time to let go and concentrate on our child … ensure he is made to feel loved regardless of our divorce … and instill in him the value of respect, consideration and love for your partner that was denied to me as a wife and stepmom.

  • Michael Jantzen says:

    Thank you all so much for reading my article. Anita, you make really good points. Respect must be shown to the step parent and that happens by communicating often and clearly about schedules and arrangments concerning the kids. The kids are very important, but so is the step parent. The needs of both must be prioritized as best as possible, and where that’s difficult, grace and forgiveness needs to be given and received.

    If you haven’t yet, you may want to check out my wife’s blog: http://www.stephaniejantzen.ca

    Have a great day!

  • Aldo says:

    Denise and Anita, marriage is a partnership, and as such each partner should not only know what the other desires, but be in agreement with him or her- Amos 3:3
    “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

  • Denise says:

    Great article. So true what Anita wrote. This has been a struggle for me and my marriage . Ive got my own children that are almost grown and taking on 2 pre teen kids is tough.

  • Denise says:

    Great article. So true what Anita wrote. This has been a struggle for me and my marriage

  • Anita says:

    It was touched upon but should be expanded on… Decision making. Do not forget to include your wife in decision making. Her plans, thoughts, ideas are important too. When you make decisions without including her, for example switching weekends, switching holidays or planning a family trip make sure she does not have to work, invited her family to dinner, plans with her own adult grown children, maybe she just wants a quiet weekend with you. When you make / change plans without her input or asking her if she is ok with the switch she will feel resentful, as if her thoughts, ideas, plans do not matter, as if she does not matter.

    Also do not allow ex’s to change plans for your home. By that I mean your ex switching visitation days, adding extra days, taking away days with out discussing it with both of you before hand. Although stepmom loves your children she does not appreciate the surprise of having additional children unexpectedly and without being consulted first. Yes you all came together as a package deal but that does not mean she does not have plans, might need to work, wants to take off out of town and when kids are suddenly there when she did not expect it she could become upset. It is even worse when her new husband allows the ex to just drop the kids off and then expects them to leave them there as long as she feels like. This can lead to feelings of anger resentment, even that stepmom feels like a built in babysitter.

    Lastly, If you have to work or attend school or a training do not expect your wife to watch or be there for your children. Ask her if she is OK with it. Ask her if she has other plans. Do not assume that just because she is your wife that she has nothing better to do but sit around and wait to watch your kids. She has a life too. She has work, she needs space, she might even have her own grown children she wants to spend time with. Just because you are married does not give you a license to treat her like a daycare center or a doormat.

  • Aldo says:

    Melissa, it is very difficult to live with and raise step-children, and near impossible to do it without the blessing of the Lord on the stated partnership.

    I realize that living together today outside of marriage is the “in” thing to do, but it is still sin in God’s eyes.

    On the other hand being married is not only a commitment to each other, but to God under whose authority the vows are made. When we take steps to do things God’s way, His blessings are upon us.

    If you have never come into a relationship with God the Father by accepting and receiving His Son Jesus Christ, you can do so now. Furthermore, Jesus is the answer to all your problems, whether they be big or small, financial or habitual, domestic or physical. He wants to be your redeemer, your healer, and your deliverer. He wants the very best for you, and your loved ones. Turn your life over to Him, and trust Him to bring about what He knows is best for you.

    Here is a suggested prayer you can say. Remember, God knows your heart and is not as concerned with your words as He is with your attitude.

    “Dear God, I admit I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness; I believe that Jesus Christ, Your Son, died in my place, paying the penalty for my sins. I am willing right now to turn from my sin and accept Him as my personal Savior and Lord. I commit myself to You, and ask You to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to fill me and take control, and to help me become the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You Father for loving me, forgiving my sins, and for giving me eternal life, in Jesus name, Amen.”

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