Relationships are hard enough, but relationships that include exes or stepchildren have so many more complex layers. Being part of a blended family myself, I have a passion and unique understanding of what you are going through. Acting as a neutral third party, I will teach you communication and conflict management skills to apply to these unique issues. Some of the ways I can help include:
- SETTING BOUNDARIES – There are always more than two people that influence every relationship, including family members, in-laws and friends. But in a blended relationship, you have the unique challenge of having an ex-partner or spouse that may have to be a part of your relationship, especially when there are children involved. Your relationship with your ex may be amicable or riddled with conflict. But either way, you feel that your ex-partner is too involved in your new relationship, and too often, is becoming a source of conflict for you and your current partner. Learning to set boundaries with exes is a necessary skill. Your ex will likely want to have a say in what goes on in your new relationship and your new household if you share children.
I can help you navigate the delicate balance of healthy cooperation with your ex and establishing appropriate boundaries that protect and honor your current relationship.
- COMMUNICATING AROUND CONFLICT– The complex layers with a blended couple inevitably leads to conflict, and it is conflict that goes above and beyond the issues traditional couples may deal with. You may be stuck in a continuous cycle of disagreeing and arguing about how to discipline your children and step children. Every conversation about these issues leaves you feeling frustrated, misunderstood and hurt. You are trying to navigate your roles in the relationship as a stepparent and constantly questioning whether it’s your ‘place’ to step in. You want to make life as consistent as possible for your children, but find yourself caught in a constant bind of how to keep up with old family traditions and how to integrate your old family traditions to new blended traditions.
I can help you learn to communicate about these tough issues in different and effective ways. I will help you get away from cycles of attack and defend, and away from black and white thinking to help you find the grey areas that lead to compromise and solutions. I can help you have conversations that result in you feeling heard, understood, and validated by your partner.
- BECOMING TEAMMATES– As a blended couple, with partners and children that came before your current relationship, loyalty often becomes an issue. You may often feel torn and in the middle between your partner and your child, knowing that by making one of them happy you will disappoint the other. You may often feel like an outsider, never quite able to really fit in with your partner and your step child and feeling left out when they talk about stories and a history they share that doesn’t include you. With all these potential pitfalls, it is crucial for you and your partner to learn to develop a sense of “we-ness.”
I help you learn how to become teammates and stay on the same side, so these issues don’t lead to blame and divide. I help you learn to externalize the issues, making problematic areas something “we” need to work together and fix, so you are tackling life’s problems together.