BMW*: We Said “I Do,” Why Is He Saying “I Won’t?”

By Laney Nicole October 3, 2012 07:00 AM
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BMW*: We Said “I Do,” Why Is He Saying “I Won’t?”

One New Wife with Stepkids’ Story

Sex is fabulous, love is grand, and comprise is necessary. This is the start of life as a newlywed, but a different type of comprise becomes the highlighted issue with the bonus mom (BM). The declaration of unity that begins with “I do” is shadowed by the inability of the biological parent to allow the BM in–causing a dichotomy of connection and rejection. Insecurity is the theme of this article as it is the root of many problems:  the fights, tears and confusion resulting from this emotion.

After the honeymoon, insecurity can erode the beauty of this era. The spouse who has kids will take years to recognize the love and devotion a new parent gives, translating the “I do” into an “I won’t.” As in, I won’t support you even though I said I do. Even as the new BM gives, the natural parental instincts will cause rejection. This is natural. They are merely trying to protect their spawn.

It is more accurate if I replace the “I won’t” with “I can’t.”  No matter how much love, no matter how much respect, no matter how much common sense you project, it will be rejected. The sooner you realize that it is not a personal, but rather a natural territorial issue, you will be able to move on and continue your good work with your family and respect your marriage.

Trust me, in the beginning, I lived my life in love and found my efforts futile, as have many.  No matter what is said or acted, you still are seen as the enemy for the first couple years. Giving bedtimes, reading to them, teaching them how to tie their shoes and trying to love and support them will still will not buy you a ticket of trust. It will get better though. Patience is key. And the more you realize your mate is not targeting you specifically, but is acting in a natural state, your defense mechanism to these objections will subside and you will learn to react accordingly and appreciate (wine helps, btw) their fear.

Here are a few tips that can help get you beyond those fears:

  • Find neutral time to talk to your spouse about these situations and feelings.
  • Don’t hold a resentment against your spouse for the circumstances of child custody or support. This is what you agreed to accept when you married them.
  • Don’t try to act like a biological parent, but set any boundaries you would as with any other human when needed, especially when it comes to their health and well being.
  • If they say mean things about you, think about what the source may have been and realize their loyalties are fractured when mommy and daddy divorced.
  • Don’t let either of you neglect the marriage for the kids. Most therapists would agree that a happy marriage leads to happy kids. The kids will feel more stability if they know daddy and his new wife won’t be divorcing too.
  • Don’t leave anyone out and don’t let yourself be left out. And if that means not waiting for an invitation to join in, by all means do so.
  • Let go of the fantasy. We all dream that merging a family with a new spouse will be more Brady Bunch than Stepmom. As women we spend much of our lives dreaming about what married life will be. A second or third wife to a husband with exes and kids to navigate was not in the picture. The sooner you let go of the fantasy and accept life on life’s terms the better off you all will be.
  • Find the beauty in your situation. It’s there.

This journey requires strength and an ability to laugh loud and love deep.  The new transition experienced as a family takes time, but perseverance and hope along with some tough skin (if you don’t have it now, don’t worry, it will grow) will carry you through dark times to intermittent, sometimes consistent victorious moments that reward you for your efforts.  Look out for BMW Episode 3!

*Bonus Mom World