Are you constantly finding yourself disappointed or angry with the other household? Does this frustration carry over into your marriage and spill into your relationship with your children or stepchildren?
Even the “best” blended families deal with some disappointment. This unique type of frustration may have burdened you today, this week or this month. The kids come home from the other house starving, and it’s past meal-time. That nasty little voice in your head says, “Why didn’t your dad feed you?”
The tiny seed of resentment is planted, nestled comfortably in your mind. Later that day you discover your child’s good tennis shoes were left at the other household. The little seed sprouts in your mind, and each small incident feeds it, until you are so full of resentment you are ready to explode.
How does something small turn into something so big? You had preconceived expectations which were not voiced to your ex or child’s stepparent, and when those unspoken expectations weren’t met, you became incensed. We all have a habit of assuming that everyone knows what we are thinking. We think our wants and needs are obvious, but the truth is that each of us is busy with our own daily to-do list, our own conflicts, our own goals and our own insecurities. We don’t always notice what the other person has going on. This is especially true when there are two households.
Wondering how to manage the disappointment and frustration when your ex’s household lets you down in some way? You have several options to help manage disappointment, all of which will make you happier…we promise!
Consciously decide to expect less. You don’t know what’s going on at the other house, even if you think you do. Last minute things come up. That household’s priorities take over. For all you know, your child could have refused a meal (just an example) because they were anxious about the transition. Expecting your children to come back to you on the designated day is reasonable. Expecting them to come back wearing certain clothes, bringing certain items, having eaten a meal and in a certain frame of mind is setting yourself up for a let-down.
Voice your expectations. If I’m hoping certain items come to my house along with the children, I call or text Molly, their stepmom, in advance. As the mom in my ex’s household, she is most aware of those kinds of things. If you are worried that asking your ex his their partner to do something will annoy them, rethink it. Asking someone for help or consideration builds trust on both sides. It shows you are open to what they have to give. Are you avoiding sending that text or making that phone call because you don’t like your ex or their partner? The sooner you let go of that, the better for everyone involved. Stoking dislike or distrust is poisonous for you and your kids.
Prioritize expectations. If your child comes back to you with stitches that you didn’t know about, it’s time for a serious talk with your ex. You know and they know that you should have been notified as soon as there was an incident major enough to warrant stitches. But bee stings, missing dolls or a 30-minute tardy arrival is not worth any anguish. Let it go. Forever.
Have you been frustrated by the way your ex’s household manages transitions, cares for the children or arranges their time? What benefit has that frustration been to you or your kids?
Author Info: Trish Eklund has lived in Nebraska for almost fifteen years, raising her two daughters of ten and thirteen with her husband, ex-husband and his wife. Taking a nontraditional approach to raising children after divorce and remarriage, all four adults co-parent their daughters. Trish is a feature writer for Big Blended Family, and also for Her View From Home in the family category, touching on divorce, remarriage, and co-parenting issues. Visit her personal blog by clicking HERE.