I wish I could say that Christmas with our five kids together was perfect this year. I had been looking forward to having everyone home for several days and savoring the moments together as a family.
But, unfortunately, much of the time spent together was stressful. Since four of our five children are young adults, there were a lot of opinions and varying ideas that arose during idle conversation, leading to heated discussions at times. Hurtful words were exchanged and unanswered questions raised. We worked through our struggles, but it was not always easy.
So, as I reflect on coping with stepfamily drama, I offer a few suggestions over the next two posts to successfully manage the inevitable conflict that comes with stepfamily life.
1. Expect a fair amount of drama, particularly at the beginning of the marriage, and other stressful periods. This is where I went wrong this holiday season. I didn’t recognize the underlying stress that is affecting our family as we anticipate my husband’s job ending in February. Extra money spent at Christmas, the threat of my stepson’s college scholarship in jeopardy, and any conversation regarding finances put everyone at edge, leaving us vulnerable to drama.
2. Take extra care to get enough rest, eat right, and exercise during periods of high stress.
This area is easily neglected during the holiday season. Too many Christmas parties, a congested schedule with unavoidable obligations, and never-ending shopping trips leave little room for proper diet, exercise and adequate sleep. We don’t cope well with drama when we’re not in a good place ourselves physically and emotionally.
3. Nurture your marital relationship. Some day the kids will be gone and the drama will be over. But if the marriage wasn’t nurtured, there will be nothing left to share. Don’t let the conflict of “his, hers, and ours” drive your relationship apart. Find a way to have some time alone and reconnect with one another during and after stressful periods.
…To be continued
How do you handle stepfamily drama at your house?