He Said/She Said: My Stepchildren Are Breaking us Up!

He Said/She Said: My Stepchildren Are Breaking us Up!

Dear Aaron & Rachel,

My husband and I have a marriage that’s a ten out of ten – except for one thing: our stepchildren. When we were dating, we fell in love pretty hard. We did everything right and didn’t introduce our children to each other until we were sure we were serious. And even though our kids didn’t like it, we went ahead and got married anyway. That was only two years ago and now it seems like our marriage is a real-life Parent Trap with our kids trying to break us up. We still love each other but with all the fighting that goes on between our stepchildren and our kids’ biological parents I’m not sure if our marriage is worth it. I almost wonder if we should separate until our kids are older and try it again. I’d love some input.


Parent Trapped

She Said

Dear Parent Trapped,

So sorry that you are struggling with such difficult family dynamics. Of course, it is very common for there to be such challenges with blended families. These challenges can be worked through with the help of a talented Marriage & Family Therapist. Because your marriage is otherwise perfect, I do not think you should throw in the towel solely because of the stepchildren. You and your partner deserve to be happy. Your children need to learn that they can not always have their way in life and that there are circumstances beyond their control that they need to accept. They will benefit more from having parents who are happy and can model strength than parents who allow them to control their lives. I strongly suggest therapy that can give you all coping skills. Best of luck!

aaron anderson marriage counselorHe Said

Hi Parent Trapped,

You’d be surprised how many couples sit on my couch not because they don’t get along, but because of step-family related difficulties that are affecting their marriage. In fact, I contributed some information about step-families to Huffington Post recently that I think would be a worth a read for you. It also gives some information from other professionals about why second marriages are harder than first. Seriously, give it a read. Too many people enter second marriages without enough information.

As a marriage counselor, I realize that marriage isn’t all about love, romance, and butterflies in your stomach. There are a lot of practical aspects that go along with marriage that couples need to navigate together. And step-families are no different. Even though you two may be madly in love with each other, there may be practical challenges in your step-family that just make your marriage impractical. Things like crazy custody schedules, incompatible finances due to financial obligations to exes etc, and stepchildren who try to sabotage your marriage just to name a few. Yes, these are legitimate practical reasons to end the relationship. But if your marriage is a ten out of ten otherwise then stick with it and do what you have to do in order to get the unruly children back in line. You can always change custody arrangements to fit your family better, and change up the household rules to fit better, too. Remember that step families aren’t meant to work the same way that nuclear families do so don’t force yourself (or your step-children) into trying to be like a nuclear family.

Finally, don’t forget that even though they don’t like you as a stepparent, that doesn’t mean you should just resign yourself to not being liked. As a stepparent, try to invest yourself into things your stepchildren like. Help them with their school projects, soccer games, and homework. A little bit of love and affection will go a long way.

About Rachel: Rachel Russo is a Dating, Relationship, & Image Coach who works with marriage-minded singles and couples in NYC and throughout the US. Checkout her website at RachelRusso.com

About Aaron: Aaron Anderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado and writer for various websites on marriage and relationships.


7 Responses to He Said/She Said: My Stepchildren Are Breaking us Up!

  1. I have alot of questions i need to talk to somebody i just got married a year ago and my husband family tryi g to control him in every way and he dont listen to me dont get me wrong i love them but i dont like the way they treat him and his daughter to what i should do about that

    • Hi Catherine, Go to our contact us page and send us an email with your info. We’d be happy to setup an appointment with you and answer whatever questions you have.

  2. Hello.
    Relationship is still very new, but we are head over heals and in the 35 years of my life I’ve never met someone so wonderful. Shes always working so am i, but we shift between to take care of the kids. They are hers and she says because she works so much and i wasn’t around at the time. They are very disrepectful to the both of us and are consuming our relationship. I’m doing Everything i can to show them love, neing stern to rewarda if well behaved and there’s just some days. I feel like they do these things on purpose. There’s so many other things that they do. Lie, sneak, ignore, name calling. I’m so fed up, but im so inlove and i do not know what to do?

    • Yeah. This is really common. Marriage is a 10/10 but difficulties with the children really hinder things. There’s a lot to consider when talking about parenting. Most importantly is what kind of relationship your stepchildren want to have with you. They are people, too, and get to decide what kind of relationship they want to have with others. That said, you ARE an adult and you are liable when they are in your care. So you need to AT LEAST have a respected adult relationship much like they would with a teacher or a coach, etc. Then work up for there. Love is important but you also want to live in peace day to day. start with that. see how it goes.

  3. my husband and I have been married for 5 years. He has 2 grown kids that live with us. The step kids have no respect and control the house. My husband starves for attention from them and will hurt me to get that. If we have plans he will drop me to make them happy. If we are together they constantly call him. I’m depressed, sad and hurt don’t know what to do. Help!

    • I hate to say it Amy but it will get worse before it gets better. My husband did the same thing to me for years. The only thing that gave me peace was to give him an ultimatum. I told him either me or them. I will not be disrespected , and treated like dirt any longer. I told him I was moving with out or they were. I had to make a decision, because he wouldnt. It was too much . I was losing my mind literally. It was my out of control step daughter, but she has been gone for a few months now , with her mother. I wont ever tolerate it again. Take a stand.

  4. My boyfriend of 6 years just broke up with me last Thursday. I knew there was tension and we were going through a rough patch but really tough he could not imagine me not being in his life and would do anything to fix and find a solution. He broke up with me through text message and obviously I was completely shocked and angry that he was not man enough to do it in person face to face. The reason for the breakup: his daughter gave him an ultimatum and although he did not give into this right away… she did everything in her power to make him understand that she was emotionally damage by me( truly underlying cause of jealousy and many other things…. I swear I am not a monster) and he would loose her in his life or worse if he continued to be with me.
    He ended things by saying: « I love you and I always will but I give up. Our relationship is causing too many issues with my family and I need to focus on his kids in peace and nothing else. »
    I tried to get him to talk to me on the phone but he would not … I tried to text him and I got a few responses out of him but nothing I wanted to hear… he eventually said just let go and focus on finding someone else 💔😭
    I know this man truly still loves me and what we had was truly special. But his daughter managed to wedge herself into the connection and damaged it. She is extremely manipulative and I felt powerless.
    I would like your advice? Can this be saved? I just can’t imagine my life without him 💔

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