As a stepmom, you have a better chance of beating cancer than beating divorce. 67% divorce rate for 2nd marriages, and 73% if it’s your third.
Super depressing. I know.
Just Stay with me. It gets better…
The stats also show if you stop considering divorce, and endure the pain of an unhappy marriage, you will be happily married 5 years later.
Although the research is not specific to stepfamilies, it’s still promising:
In a 2002 study, researchers found the majority of unhappy couples reported being happy 5 years later. And those who divorced didn’t report being any happier than those who stayed together.
If you persist with your partner, the odds of you being happily married in 5 years is very high.
Too impatient to wait 5 years? Don’t fret.
Here’s 7 things you can do to turn your marriage around:
1. Catch your thoughts
Your pain is not caused by what he did or she did.
Your pain is caused by your interpretation of their actions.
I know, you’re convinced your interpretation is correct, we all are.
But your interpretation is defined by your past hurts and the irrational thoughts you adopted as truth when you were a child.
10 year olds shouldn’t be driving a car, and your 10 year old self shouldn’t be driving your thoughts.
Become aware of the story you’re telling yourself and test them for accuracy.
2. Find someone to listen
We can’t move past our pain until we feel heard and understood. If your husband can’t do this for you, find someone who can.
A therapist, a curious friend who won’t try to solve your problems, or me, a Stepfamily dynamics educator and coach.
3. Be someone who listens
The only way to transform conflict is to allow the other person to feel heard.
Deep down, they know you’re not to blame for their pain. Believe me, they do. Something you did may trigger their pain, but you’re not the cause of it.
See every attack as the cry for help that it is. A cry to be heard.
Lead with curiosity to help them heal.
4. Acknowledge you’re unhappily married
Couples who report being neither happy or unhappy in marriage are more likely to divorce than couples who report being unhappy.
Unhappy couples who stay together eventually report being happy. Maybe it’s because you need to name it to claim it, I don’t know.
What I do know is research shows within 5 years you’ll return to your standard level of happiness. Whether you lose a limb or win the lottery, you eventually return to your happiness baseline.
Give your marriage time and it will get better.
5. Change your wiring in just 10 minutes
We’re hardwired to spot the negative and focus on it.
We dismiss the positive because it’s not a threat to our survival. This served as well in the cave man era. Not so much in your marriage.
Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology, has research to prove focusing on what you’re grateful for, for just 10 minutes a day, will make you happier:
“Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“ My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“ My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”).
Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?””
Commit to doing it for 21 days and report back. I pinky promise it’s well worth your time.
6. Take the blame
Play eye spy and be on the lookout for how you’re contributing to the conflict.
I’m on your side, so please don’t take this the wrong way, but you have a role in your marital conflict. As do I (in my marriage, not yours).
Once you acknowledge your part, you can change your response.
If you change, they’ll change.
Change for the better and they will too. Not instantly, but keep at it and they’ll eventually respond in kind.
7. Learn to say “no”
Are you a people pleasing stepmom?
Wait. Don’t answer that. There’s a test for that. Take it now and come back.
Many of you may find yourself in situations where you’re enabling your partner or the ex to slack off as a parent.
If you’re happy with your role, then keep on at it. If you’re overwhelmed and resentful learn how to say no.
At the end of the day, Mom and Dad are responsible for the care and feeding of their children.
They likely did it before you arrived on the scene and they can do it again while you’re on the scene.
Give what you can give. Act in alignment with your values.
And take care of you, because no one else will.
Except me. That’s my job. Stepmom coach for sale.