Whether you’re the one on your second marriage, or the one marrying another who is on their second marriage―things are about to change. No matter how much you love your new spouse, if you have step=children in the mix, that means an immediate full house, and also other possible step-parents to deal with.
You may have to deal with one of the biggest blended family problems – jealousy.
Why is jealousy so prevalent in blended families? Because everyone’s worlds have just changed dramatically. It’s hard to know what to expect. So you are often outside of your comfort zone. Maybe you’re even a little fearful.
You’re not sure what’s normal, or how to feel. In the meantime, you may not feel like you are being treated fairly and you can experience some step-parent jealousy. While this is completely normal, it’s still hard to live with. Second marriages with stepchildren can be a bit of a challenge.
Here are some tips on how to deal with step-parent jealousy.
Look for the positive
If you see that your child is developing a positive relationship with your ex’s new spouse, it can cause you to feel jealous. After all, that is your child, not theirs!
Now they have another person in their life who is also a parent figure, it may feel like they are stealing your child. But are they really? No, they aren’t trying to take your place. You will always be their parent.
Instead of focusing on your jealous feelings, try to look for the positive. Realize that this positive relationship with a stepparent is a great thing for your child; it could definitely be worse. Be glad that this stepparent is a positive influence on your child.
Expect some step-parent toe stepping
There will be times that you may feel like a stepparent is encroaching on your territory and making you experience step-parent jealousy. This may be because they are figuring out how to be a good stepparent.
They are doing it for you! Even then, you may expect to feel some jealousy.
If you expect that there will be times where you feel jealousy, hopefully when the time comes you won’t feel it so severely. Think of the possible scenarios:
they post pictures of your kids on social media gloating about how great they are; they call them their “kids”; your kids call them “mom” or “dad,” etc.
Expect this kind of thing to happen, and just know it’s ok to feel like your toes are being stepped on, step-parent jealousy is a normal emotion to feel in this situation.
It’s important to note that it’s one thing to feel a little jealousy, and another to act on it. Decide now that no matter your reaction on the inside, you’ll try your best to not let it affect your relationship with your kids.
In fact, you may feel a little cheated out of more of that “newlywed” phase so many couples who start marriage without kids seem to have. Remember that when you married someone who already had kids, you knew what you were getting into.
Face the reality here; our spouse has to be there for their kids. They need their parents. While you know this, facing what that means may not be what you expect.
To combat all your second marriage problems, stepchildren are the key; befriend them and half your problems may be solved.
Focus on what you can control
From time to time, you may shake your head at the decisions your step-children or your children’s stepparent make. Try not to let what they do bother you—you can’t control what they do, anyway.
Instead, focus on what you can control, and don’t let step-parent jealousy be a factor in your judgment. Be kind and helpful, set boundaries, and do your best to be there when needed.
Try to let go of what you can’t control, and do everything you can with what you can.
Give everyone time—including yourself
When your family first blends, don’t expect things to be wonderful overnight. There may be some definite highs and lows before things start to even out into normalcy.
If you are experiencing step-parent jealousy, try to work past it and realize that it will pass. Just give everyone some time to get used to this new arrangement.
Give yourself time to adjust. Don’t beat yourself up if you feel jealous at times, just learn from it. You can read some step-parent quotes to feel better and motivated to make this family arrangement work.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.