A guide for Stepmoms: How to be happy in an unhappy marriage.

As we leap, or, for those who partied, stumble into 2018, the statistics suggest many of you are considering divorce

For good reason. As you and I both know, life as a stepmom is not for the weak.

 

3 common challenges for Stepmoms are:

 

1) Your husband sees you through the lens of his 1st marriage.

An argument is never just between you two. It’s between you, him and his past.  Your past takes a seat at the table as well.

The voice of his past is inaudible to us. But, make no mistake, he is responding to it just as a dog responds to high frequency sounds humans can’t hear.

This is infuriating for a 2nd wife. Everyone outside of the home recognizes your strong moral code and your efforts to abide by it. Yet, your own husband is suspicious of your every word.

 

2) Money trouble

 

Divorcing with children is damn expensive. A stepfamily that doesn’t struggle with money in as rare as a toddler who never tantrums.

Financial stress is one of the top 3 causes of divorce in 1st and 2nd marriages.

For stepfamilies, even without financial trouble, we face a 70% divorce rate (73% for 3rd marriages with children).

 

3) Stepmoms are forced into roles they may not want.

 

Stepmoms are expected to take on a motherly role in the care and feeding of the children. Society, including other stepmoms, harshly judges the stepmom who rejects this role.

On the flip side, society also feels obligated to remind you you’re not their mother. It’s can make the most sane stepmom batshit crazy.

The work of the lucky stepmom is truly appreciated and respected by her husband. But for many of you, your husband is overwhelmed with stress, unable to recognize you too are gasping for air.

I know this seems fatalistic, but I have good news for you.

 

This all gets easier the moment you stop considering divorce.

 

1) The beauty of marriage is it offers you and your husband a lifetime to improve.

 

Life is full of ups and downs, and so is marriage. It’s not meant to be easy. It’s meant to challenge you to be your best. To teach you how to come together in the face of adversity.

Marriage provides you with the opportunity to fail and recover. Over and over, if necessary.

 

2) Research shows if you endure the pain of an unhappy marriage, you will be happily married 10 years later.

 

Although the research is not specific to stepfamilies, it’s still promising:

70% of couples with young children, who are unhappily married, stay together.

Of that 70%, 68% report being happily married 10 years later.

27% of the 68% report being extremely happy.

 

3) You can be happy right now.

 

You don’t need to wait 10 years to be happy. You can choose to be happy in 2018, even if you feel stuck in an unhappy marriage.

There is overwhelming research proving certain behaviors increase our happiness. You would have to be living life in a snow globe to escape this research, and yet, most of us don’t apply it to our lives.

If you want to be happy, despite all of the stress that comes with life as a Stepmom, start doing this:

 

* Meditate.

 

Download the headspace app (free of charge) and just do it.

I don’t care how you do it. Lay in your bed or sit criss cross applesauce. It doesn’t matter.

Taking as little as 5 or 10 minutes to observe the thoughts that are making you unhappy will improve your wellbeing.

 

* Move your body.

 

Our world would transform if the government taxed the right to wear yoga pants with a 20 minute workout.

Exercise has been proven to be as effective in treating depression as medication, Yet, the majority of us choose medication, and all of the side effects to go with it, instead of investing 20 minutes of our day in moving our body.

Dance, run, hang cake from a rope and paw at it like a kitten. Just move your body. Not to lose weight, or get in shape, just do it to be happy.

 

* Get sufficient sleep

 

If you’re like me, you use your phone, laptop or ipad before dozing off.

I’m not about to tell you to do away with it, because I can’t do it myself.

Instead, download the f.lux app, or turn on NightShift on your iphone to eliminate the blue light known to interfere with good sleep.

It’s very difficult to be happy when you’re not meeting your sleep needs.

 

* Consume Omega 3

 

Like exercise, Omega 3 has been proven to be as effective as medication for treating depression. You can get omega 3 from walnuts, fish, spinach or supplements.

 

* Have Sex

 

You may not want to be intimate with your husband when you’re unhappily married, but sex is proven to increase our feel good chemicals. Do it for you. Do it for your marriage. Have angry sex if necessary. Start off wearing yoga pants and you can count it towards your exercise time.

2018 is your year to be happy. Make it happen!