Lowering expectations rarely solves anything, so consider new expectations that can work for you.
Whether you’ve been a stepmom for years or weeks, being aware and wise about your expectations will spare you pain and rage and create more calm closeness in your marriage. Most of us start our lives as stepmoms believing and expecting we can create the “happy family fantasy.” For some of us, reality can crush that dream. When under stress, many stepmom seek out advice anywhere we can find it. Sadly, many books and experts simply tell us to lower our expectations and give up the “happy Family dream.” However, they don’t tell us what to do with the huge hole in our hearts that’s created when we do so. They tell us if we stop expecting good things to happen, our disappointment will lessen, sparing us future pain. [EXPERT]
It never worked for me and as a “glass half full” kinda gal, I never found that strategy very helpful or inspiring. This article is about 12 stepmom expectations you can invest emotional energy in because achieving them is within your reach, no matter how your stepkids or their bio-mom acts or treats you. There are also a few to help you when you and your dear husband can’t seem to agree on how to approach a situation. [EXPERT]
Take a moment & write down your expectations: What are your expectations as a stepmom? How do your expectations differ from your husband’s expectations? Have you two actually shared the details of your expectations? Do you suspect there are any unspoken expectations? It’s helpful (and interesting) if you take a couple of minutes to write them down. [EXPERT]
The Dynamics of Expectations.
Expectations (positive or negative) for our future have a lot more influence over our experience of the present moment than most people realize. When our expectation of the future is positive, we feel better right now, in the present moment; even though our expected future hasn’t even happened yet. Have you ever noticed that? [EXPERT]
Just book a vacation and feel the joy flow through you every time you think about it. Conversely, when we expect something sad, bad or scary in the future; it makes us feel terrible immediately, often robbing us of the joy of our present moment...even though it hasn’t happened. yet. That’s how powerful our expectations are in our daily emotional life. Have good expectations and feel good, until they don’t occur. When our expectations do not manifest, it can range from annoying to devastating. Depending on our situation, we may create a new strategy to achieve our expectation, change our expectation or give up experiencing varying levels of disappointment. Disappointment that can hurt a little or be devastating. [EXPERT]
While a short term, quick fix might be to say, “I’m going to avoid this pain by lowering or not having any expectations, this can lead to depression, despair and all kinds of upsetting feelings. Why? Besides the discomfort obvious pain of not getting whatever you expected is the added of pain of Hope eroding when are positive expectations collapse. So maybe the answer isn’t in lowering our expectations but is about creating wiser, more achievable expectations. Before we review some new ideas, let’s look at some typical expectations that many of us stepmoms have shared. [EXPERT]
Common stepmom expectations. Anything look familiar?
- The skids will get used to having two homes, two different sets of rules and will respect the rules for each home.
- The bio-mom will get over her anger/bitterness/neediness if we just give her some time and hopefully one day we can be allies.
- At some point, the bio-mom will follow the rules and guidelines agreed upon because that’s the right thing to do for her children’s emotional health.
- One day the stepkids will realize that their bio-mom waged a “Loyalty War” against their dad and me and will see the truth about her actions.
- The husband and stepkids will (now? soon? eventually?) respect and appreciate me for all I’ve done for them.
- Once the shock of the divorce or remarriage wears off everyone is going to make an effort to get along and we’ll have lots of fun family parties, events, vacations and experiences together.
- My husband will no longer by afraid or manipulated by his ex-wife.
- My husband will value my input whenever he’s not able to see things objectively and he’ll appreciate my wisdom and perspective.
- The bio-parents and stepparents will learn to work together as cooperating adults so they can be all be involved in the skids’ school activities, celebrations and other important life events.
- My husband is going to be compassionate, patient and supportive about how his ex-wife and children impact me and he’ll stand up for me as his wife.
- Teachers, coaches, friends, members of my husband’s family and of the community will treat me as a respected and important member of the stepkids parenting team.
- If we have to go to Court, everything will work out fine. The Court System will be fair and side with the dad when the facts and evidence supports that decision.
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