3 Ways to Help You Deal With Stepfamily Conflict
“That’s it. I quit!” Sara emphatically wrote. “I can’t take one more minute of having to deal with the %^&$ anymore.”
Once again, Sara’s husband acquiesced to his ex-wife’s demands and he reverted back to being Disneyland Dad. Sara felt between a rock and hard place. She loved her husband and his children but the complexities and chaos of their stepfamily life often created feelings of anger and resentment.
Sara’s husband’s ex-wife’s constant demands and scheduling changes were the biggest cause of conflict in their marriage. Conflict is inevitable, however; everyone has a choice in how they manage and mitigate conflict.
Sara’s not alone in feeling this way. Most women who marry a man with kids and an ex-wife struggle with visitation schedule changes, custody battles, intrusive ex-wives, child support, parenting differences and many other stepfamily issues. One way to deal with the conflicts, challenges and complications is by using the TLC strategy.
T is for Take It. How often do you tolerate bad behavior? Think about this, you get what you tolerate and you teach others how to treat you based on what you tolerate. In other words, if you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. If your husband’s teenage daughter is behaving badly, do you take it because you think you have no alternative? What if you chose not to tolerate bad behavior – what are your options?
L is for Leave It. Leaving is always an option. The divorce rate in the United States is high and stable – about 50% of all first marriages end in divorce. Second marriages have a 60-65% chance of ending in divorce. Sara is about to leave the man she’s madly in love with because she can no longer tolerate the bad behavior of both his oldest son and his ex-wife. She’s reached her limit.
Leaving is certainly an option, but can Sara do something else? She sure can. And so can you.
C is for Change It. You can change how you respond to the bad behavior of others. It would be so much easier if those around you would magically change but the only person you can change is yourself. Just as it’s difficult for others to change, it’s just as difficult for you to change. Very rarely do any of us want to take a look deep inside and ask, “what am I doing or not doing that’s contributing to the issue?” and “how can I change what I’m doing or not doing?”
Conflict is inevitable but as the famous psychologist William James once said,
Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”
The next time you find yourself in conflict with another, are you going to