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Counseling? Did it help you?

Bio-Step-Mom's picture

We have never done counseling; premarital or otherwise. I think we should have, DH thinks "it won't help".

We are at an impasse and have separated but making the move to divorce when you love each other is HARD to say the least. In a nutshell, we both honestly kind of suck as stepparents. Is it something that can be "fixed"? I don't know... As for our marriage, it isn't bad, though there are communication and trust (regarding the kids) issues. I think for sure, those things can be fixed.

But, has anyone successfully navigated back to a working marriage after being on the brink of divorce?

Our issues stem from our kids (no shared kids between us) who are 13, 13, 14, 15.

I really think that 75% of the problem is general teenage stuff. NONE of the kids are "bad kids". None of the kids are having trouble at school. None of the kids have ever done anything crazy like drugs, drinking, sex. None of the kids would dare disrespect either of us in terms of things like swearing or hitting or anything. Yet we just cannot get on the same parenting page. Nothing as extreme as one permissive parent and one strict parent; just DIFFERENT parenting styles -- which obviously occurs with most couples -- I just think it's easier to navigate when it's your own (shared) children or perhaps if they were really little.

I really think we should STOP trying to parent each other's kids and work on being married to each other and supporting each other's parenting, without feeling like we need to be "A PARENT" to the other persons' kids.

I'm rambling Smile sorry.

So back to my original question...has anyone saved their marriage after having issues between the step-relationships?


amber3902's picture

>>Has anyone successfully navigated back to a working marriage after being on the brink of divorce?<<

My exH and I went to counseling four separate times. I should say over the course of a 11 year marriage, we saw four different counselors. The first one - two times, the second one - for six months. The third one - two times, the fourth one - two times.

The counseling "worked" for a while, that is, he changed his behavior for the better, for a while. Then he would go back to his old ways. I finally realized he was never going to really change and filed for divorce.

We didn't have blended family issues, but I think the principle is the same. Both parties have to recognize what they are doing to contributing to problems, be willing to change those behaviors, and then put in the hard work required to change.

overworkedmom's picture

Me and DH are in counseling now. I can't say that it has "helped" yet, but I will say that we both leave feeling better that we were able to say what was on our mind. Our counselor is a great interpreter. Dh says something assholey and I get shocked or cry and the counselor steps and will say "what I heard, is DH feels _____. Is that right?" and once things are reworded and the hurt is taken away we can have a real discussion that stays on track. Nothing has really changed for us yet (we have only been 3 times so far) but I am glad we go.

Jsmom's picture

We tried and it made it worse...What did work for us was we don't parent each other's kids. We have very different kids. Mine is an honor student and his is anti-social. We don't have my SD17, long ugly story....She is a problem child and lives with mom, because she doesn't like rules.

What also helped us was we decided to not discuss my SD and BM at all....We also made sure every week to do something just us outside of the house away from the teens that were controlling it....We did a dinner out every week, just us and we did ball room dance lessons privately on wed nights for one hour. For that one hour, we were a couple and on the same level. We both sucked evenly at it. We will never use what we learned publicly, but it was better for us than any therapy. We laughed and laughed. Find something that is just yours....

Therapy made the fights worse and afterwards we didn't talk and we were paying $100 bucks for that?

Bio-Step-Mom's picture

I really (REALLY) think that will change things immensely for us. If he quits trying to "be a dad" to my kids because he "wants to be a dad" and just let his relationship develop with them into...whatever it's going to be vs. trying to be a dad.

I do not parent his kids. It's not that I don't care for them; I do. But they have parents and I disagree with a lot of ways they are parented so why stress myself out over how THEY are raising their kids?!

AND, he agrees and says all the time that my kids are great kids. But he just wishes they would _____ (fill in the blank with some arbitrary thing that he was/was like as a kid). DH, they aren't YOURS. They don't have "YOU" in them.

It's like me expecting his kids to actually want to sit down and read books in the summer because it's what I enjoy and what my kids enjoy. Or expecting them to love playing board games because it's something my kids and I have always enjoyed doing together...

I actually found a really good link that honest to goodness, about 95% of the way summed up my thinking regarding the step father/stepchild relationship, much better than I have been able to verbalize. I sent it to him to read.

MarriedaBallessWonder's picture

I can honestly say that marriage counseling helped a great deal. But you have to find one who specializes in step families. You may have to go through a few of them to find the right fit.

The bummer is once you stop going, things may kind of drift back to how they were if you aren't both fully committed to the changes.

Bio-Step-Mom's picture

That's what I told him. A traditional family =/= a step a traditional family therapist may not be equipped to deal with all the challenges that are unique to step families.

Glad to know it helped you guys.

Did things go back to the old ways for you?

NCMilGal's picture

Our counseling wasn't step related. It was a last ditch effort to stay together because I told DH that he/we would get counseling to deal with his financial fuckery or I would walk.

It worked for us. BUT. Counseling only works if at least one person and preferably both wants to change and is ready to work at it. Given that your husband thinks counseling is useless, I wouldn't have too much hope.

Bio-Step-Mom's picture

His reasoning? "When I went to counseling before (as a KID after losing a PARENT) it was horrible."

I hate to be insensitive but...really!?!? I'm pretty sure losing your mom as a teen that no amount of counseling will feel "helpful" DH. You can't go off that one experience...

He finally said he's afraid that his pov won't be 'understood'. I explained to him that I had 3 different points in life where I went to therapy and had extremely positive outcomes for each of those life changes. And that it's all in 1) the counselor you choose and 2) your commitment to doing the work.

I told him don't tell me he "wants to go" because if he isn't willing to put 110% into it and be open to change and trying new's worthless.

He says he's willing to try.

I swear we have had like 10 hours of conversations in 2 days. I am so drained. DRAINED.

Tuff Noogies's picture


:jawdrop: i agree with you!!!

OP, dont jump in to counseling head first- listen to sue Smile

Sweet T's picture

We have our 4th session of therapy tonight. I told my husband that I was done unless he started getting help for his issues that were ruining our lives I was getting a divorce. I was done doing everything while he lay around being "sick" all the time and expected me to do it and was mean. He is biplar and is medicated. His issues are more that he is just lazy and mean.

He asked me to come with so that I would tell the therapist what I and our family experienced with him.. it has really turned more into couple therapy, the therapist is amazing and totally hold him accountable for his laziness and bad behavior. Like Sueu2 mentions above, my concern is Dh feeling attacked because he could feel like she is taking my side. ( although how can you not when some one thinks it is okay to lay around, be mean, not bath and expect your wife and kids to do everything and be thrilled about it) I am hoping that we will be able to branch off soon though and that he will work on his own stuff so I can go back to my therapist and focus on my own issues ( anxiety and stress ) rather than my anger and disappointment in my husband.