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Smart Stepfamilies

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Nicole from CO (Submitted 8/8/10)


My husband and I met in high school.  He is a couple years older than me and joined the military after graduation.  We both went our separate ways, married other people, had children and then divorced.  We reunited after almost 18 years and have now been married for 2 1/2 years.  I have 2 sons (ages 6 and 9) from my previous marriage and he has one son (age 7) from his previous marriage.  We were married 5 months before he was deployed to Afghanistan and was gone for over a year.  During that time, I shared 50/50 parenting time with his son's biological mother. Not only was I his new wife, but I took on full parenting responsibility for a new son.  My husband returned nearly 10 months ago and I am struggling so badly with being the "step-mom."  During the time my husband was gone, I was "mom" in our house and what I said, went.  Now that he is home, my step-son makes it very clear to me that he has a mom and a dad which he adores and does not have room in his life for me.  My husband still works a lot, leaving me to be the only parent in our household much of the time. It is extremely difficult for me to be the disciplinarian in our house when he is not home. But when he IS home, he does not seem to see/notice/acknowledge/admit his son's bad behavior and manners. Sometimes it seems he is harder on my two sons for things he lets his own boy get by with.  That is even MORE aggravating to me!!  I think he tries to over-compensate for the lack of attention he seems to receive when he is at his "real-mom's" house and in my mind lets him get away with murder.  I cannot and will not tolerate his bad behavior when I am home with him and therefore I am frequently correcting him.  I feel like I am the only one in his life that holds him accountable to the rules and of course he does not appreciate that.  Truly, I think he behaves better when his dad isn't home because he knows I won't put up with his behavior, but when Daddy's home he acts differently. I feel like I have a small victory when I do hear him get on him for something! It's almost like I LIKE him to get in trouble! With my own sons around (who have grown up with my standards and understand our "rules" - which I do not believe are overly strict by any means!) I definitely cannot let the things he does slide by without saying something.  He is LOUD, doesn't listen, he aggravates the other kids, he is sassy to me and for lack of a better word, acts like a little brat most of the time. My biological sons spend 50% of their time with their father and I RARELY get any extra time with them.  I feel so resentful that I have SO much extra time with someone else's child and can't have the same with my own children. During this summer, despite our 50/50 custody, my step-son has spent the majority of his time at our house due to his mother's work schedule.  My husband works long/odd hours so that usually equates to me being the "babysitter."  I get so irritated when I am expected to step in and take care of him when A: he clearly does not really like me, B: I don't really like him, C: his mother is so hateful and shows zero appreciation and D: I feel guilty for having the feelings I am having! I am feeling stepped on, unappreciated and used.  I feel like I should WANT to take care of him and WANT to help my husband and LOVE his child unconditionally - as I do him - but I don't.  "The ex" continually calls my husband names, talks down about him in front of their son and flat out says she "hates" him, but yet he continues to bend over backwards to help her.  It seems that when she says jump, he says how far.  My husband and I have had MANY conversations about my feelings, which I know are hurtful to him. Overall, our relationship is very strong and truly the only area of contention seems to be with regard to his son and ex-wife. I have to choose my words very carefully and almost walk on egg shells.  I get to the point where I am afraid to bring it up to him because I just want to avoid the conflict, but then the resentment inside me seems to grow ten-fold.  He has already said that it would be a "big problem" if I don't love his son...  Well, I don't.  But I sure can't tell him that!  He does not seem to recognize the bad behavior in his son that I do (I suppose we are all defensive of our own kids and want them to be good and it's hard to admit when they aren't!)  I also know that he recognizes that his ex is a flake and does not trust her with regard to caring for their son.  He is always trying to do what he thinks is best for him, which I commend him for, but I also get so frustrated by!  Some days I feel like I am at my rope's end.  I try to pray about it, but also feel very distant from God right now.  I have these feelings that I feel like I SHOULDN'T be having and that a good Christian mom wouldn't have, but yet when I try to change them they just keep getting worse.  This is the first time I have reached out to anyone other than my best friend and own mom.  I've enjoyed reading other people's stories and plan to read more.  I don't have a "home church" right now and don't have any friends who are experiencing anything similar.  It feels good to at least get this out in writing, even though it is just the tip of the iceberg.  I will be very glad when school starts again as we will return to a more "normal" 50/50 schedule, but right now I NEED A BREAK!


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