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Smart Question:

I am a second wife and a step-mom of a 11 yr old and 14 yr old that we have in our home 50% of the time for going on 2.5 years. Both my husband and are are Christians. I struggle with so many issues that I'm ashamed to admit. I've hinted to my husband at times but have not told him everything I feel because the "feelings" seem so wrong according to what I know biblically.

I struggle with loving his children. When I married him I thought it would come easy and natural but I have found that in my unmarried 30 years Ive become pretty selfish. I do all the duties of a mom but have none of the benifits. I do get attitudes, eye roles and sarcastic remarks on a regular basis. My husband expects respect from them and does address it instantly if he witnesses it and expects me to also address it if he is not home. He wants me to treat them as if they were my own. Easier said than done.

I also feel incompetition for my husbands affection for the kids, especially his daughter. I know how important daddy-daughter time is and I want her to grow up emotionally healthy and wanting a Godly man as a husband (especially because bio mom lives with a man and they are both unbelievers) but I still feel so threatened. I feel in the back seat when she is here.

And of coarse there is always the x-wife factor. My husband and her get along very well. He has chosen to. He is such a good man. But them getting along drives me crazy. Part of that stems from knowing my husband never wanted a divorce. She left him for another man and my husband believed for a long time even after the divorce that God would heal his marraige. Then came me. So part of me always feels like..yes he loves me...but if he could choose...would he choose is family back together.

Then finances are also bugging me. She gets full child support even though we share custody 50-50. It was the only way she would agree to letting us have them so much. We still take care of medical and dental 65% . But we are still taking care of the things I believe child support should cover. My husband doesn't fight it because he wants to keep the peace. He is right...God is our provider and will take care of us because we are opediant with tithes and offerings. But I still get so mad. I think its because she has such control in our lives..and then he is giving in to her. I get insecure again when he does this because it seems she is being put first.

Is there a second wife devotional out there...something to help me through this. I Pray daily...and still deal with so much guilt for having these emotions and thoughts. I know I can't be alone. Can you suggest anything?

Smart Answer:

I wish I could reach through the internet and give you a hug right now. I also wish I could tell you how incredibly normal your feelings are! Throughout your email I could sense your heart for loving out of choice, in spite of the bizarre challenges of stepmotherhood, and your struggle to surrender all these challenges on the alter of grace. I appreciate your desire to be faithful with what the Lord has given you. Your struggles and negative thoughts are also understandable. After all, stepfamilies are not a closed system. They are always open, expanded by multiple households comprising differing relational bonds, and forever influenced by outside forces that frequently have more power over your life than you do (or so it feels). Welcome to the pinch.

While I would recommend books specifically written for stepmothers by stepmothers, such as The Smart Stepmom by Laura Petherbridge and myself, and The Stepmother's Guide to Simplifying Your Life and Stepmom's Book of Prayer , both by Karon Phillips Goodman, I would also want you to know that some of what you are experiencing cannot be erased. Sometimes we love--and act in loving ways--simply out of choice. It's much like life in a church family. We sit by people who prefer different music in worship, want the preacher to use more scripture, and complain about the air conditioning, yet we are expected to love them as brothers and sisters--because Christ loved us first.

Check out the resources I mentioned above and try to find a stepparent's support group in your area (or start one in your church!!). And realize that you aren't a wicked stepmother for feeling what you feel. You are loving out of choice--and that is very noble and worthy of your calling as a child of God!