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A. from California, submitted April '10

 

Name: A.

Home: California

 

Dear Ron,

 

My wife and I have been married for just over 5 years.  We only dated for 9 months after meeting in church and thought each other was "the one."  When we married, I had a 20 year old son(who didn't live with us) and a 15 year old daughter.  She had a 14 year old son and a 13 year old daughter.  We are both Christians but had problems with our stepfamily almost from day one!

 

Our most pressing problem has been the different styles of child rearing that each brought to the table.  She was a disciplinarian with very well-behaved kids.  She had been a single mom with full custody for almost all of their lives, after divorcing their father, who had almost no say.  I had been divorced for only 5 years, and had a much more permissive/inclusive style of dealing with my kids.  Additionally, my ex-wife was much more permissive with our daughter than I was, even allowing her to drink and have parties at her house.  We shared 50/50 custody.  I never knew what setting boundaries meant, as I wasn't taught that by my parents.

 

Within a year of our marriage, we found out my daughter was involved with drugs.  After several blow-ups, she eventually went to live with her mother full time.  My daughter got more involved with drugs and even became a heroin addict by the age of 18.  Her mother and I got her into a rehab program and, supposedly, she's been clean for about a year now.  She's almost 20.  I rarely see her (maybe 4-5 times per year), as I try to avoid much contact because I know that the only times she calls me is when she wants something from me!

 

My son, who is now 25, is married with two kids.  He lives in his own house about 15 minutes away from us.  We see them occasionally, although he does call me regularly for advice, help, or just to say hello.  My ex and I started a college account for my kids when they were little.  I'm paying for their college out of that account (which I stopped adding to when I remarried).  I've used some of the money to buy a used car for my daughter and pay for babysitting for my son when he lost his job last year.  I've told them both that when that money is gone, it's gone.

 

I'm trying to learn now what setting boundaries means, even after my kids have grown up.  I'm going to counseling and have read books such as "Setting Boundaries with your Adult Children" and "Boundaries in Marriage."  Unfortunately, it may be too late.  My wife has had enough of my kids manipulation and other behaviors.  We've been separated for almost 3 months and she is afraid to reconcile because it feels good to her not to have my kids in her life!  She gets extremely angry when she sees my son and his wife spend any money (he's still unemployed and she works), fearing that I'm going to "rescue" them when they fall flat on their faces.  I've tried to assure her that I'm learning about boundaries and that this will not happen, but she won't believe me.

 

I don't know what to do.  I love my wife very much and don't want to end our marriage.  I also love my kids.  I would really appreciate any advice you can give.  I would love to attend one of your Marriage Intensives, but my wife is not interested.

 

Thanks for listening.

 

_______________________

 

A.--

 

Sometimes recovering from years of family conflict and hurt is a long process, but it sounds like you are on the right path. Your wife needs more time and distance from your "paralyzed parenting" of the past. I commend you on making a change... stay the course and show her you really mean it. Then her heart might soften toward the idea of reconcilliation.

 

If that happens, I think you would be good candidates for a marriage intensive. Healing and connecting is what those are all about.

 

RLD

 

PS. Read more about paralyzed parenting here...

 

 
Comments ( 1 )
 
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#1: by sandy tran on 05.21.2010 @ 12:58pm CDT

A,--

I think you known how was important your wife in your life after your guys had been separate for almost 3 months.

Ask yourself a questions
1. Are you marry to your wife or your children ?
2. Who will take care of you for the rest of your life ?
3. Do you allow them to do any thing they want in your home ?( Always need Setting Boundaries with your Adult Children when they stop by to visit, teach them manner & respect your own home as much as your wife...)
4. Did you ever try to understand your wife by try to wear her shoes ?( Op, may be not because her size so small...)

But any way, try to win her back before it is too late. Tell her give you the last change ...
I know it is not easy. The best luck to both of you.

Best regards,
Sandy Tran

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