By Claudette Chenevert
Your stepdaughter just made a comment that’s making your teeth grind. Your partner is ignoring it again, pretending he didn’t hear it. You’ve had enough. You just can’t take it anymore. You’re giving up.
Every time I hear couples wanting to go each their separate ways, I cry inside. Most of the time, people don’t get the help they need to put their marriage on track until it’s too late. We often spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, on all kinds of things such as after school activities, music lessons, sports, getting a certificate or a degree, or new stuff for the home or ourselves but we don’t think about investing in our marriage or our relationships.
According to official statistics, 66% of all second marriages end in divorce. In reality, this figure could be much higher because many couples who come together with children from previous relationships will opt for living together rather than getting married. We did. We lived as a family for seven years before we got married. We were both wary about commitment since our first relationships didn’t work out.
I didn’t seek help early in my first relationship because I didn’t want others involved in my personal business. My husband and his ex-wife talked about going to therapy, but one of them felt it wasn’t necessary and it wasn’t going to help. In both cases (as it is with many), we stopped working on our marriage long before we were in trouble and then it was too late.
Have you ever heard the story of the frog in boiling water? Supposedly (because I haven’t actually tried this myself), if you put a frog in boiling water, it will try to jump out but if you put it in cold water and slowly bring the water to a boil, it will stay there until it perishes. This is what happens when we don’t work on our relationships. They slowly die and we don’t know why (or we blame the other person for it).
Here are few tips to consider if you don’t want your relationship to die:
- Become aware of what’s actually bothering you. Self-reflection is the first step in identifying that there’s a problem.
- Ask yourself: Why is this bothering you? Are you feeling left out, misunderstood, unappreciated?
- Ask yourself: What can I do about this? Don’t be a victim and just complain. Find a solution to the problem.
- Talk to the person in question about what’s bothering you. People can’t read your mind. You need to let them know you don’t appreciate it when they ignore you in conversations or when they never ask how you’re doing.
- Don’t wait until resentment sets in. This is the kiss of death for many relationships. Resentment creates a snowball effect and it will seem as if everything in your life isn’t going well.
- Don’t give up hope, especially if this relationship is important to you. Earn the right to end a relationship by doing absolutely everything to make it work, including getting professional help.
- Give yourself permission to leave a relationship with dignity and respect intact, especially if that relationship is no longer serving both of you. We all change and evolve at a difference pace. When our values and beliefs change so much that we clash with one another, it may be best to move on.
What has helped you to keep your relationship alive? Share with us in the comments below.
Claudette Chenevert, author and sought-after Stepmom coach, has lived in your shoes as a mom and stepmom. She’s been there and done that and now teaches other women on what not to do in stepfamily relationships. Download your free audio The 3 Biggest Mistakes Stepfamilies Make at StepMomCoach.com.