I saw a question posed on Twitter recently that I began to ponder: “I often wonder, is the heartache of stepparenting worth it?”
I assume it’s a new stepmom who’s questioning what she’s walked into. I’ve been there, haven’t you?
How would you answer her question? Perhaps it depends on what kind of interaction you recently had with your stepchild.
Some days, it doesn’t seem like it, does it? Other days, maybe?
At the heart of the stepparenting relationship lies a love for another person who drew all the parties together – your spouse. So, if you’re asking if the heartache of stepparenting is worth it, you’re asking, “How important is my marriage?”
Step-couple marriage is hard. I know. I’ve written about it repeatedly in this blog. But if you’re married, you must have believed enough in the marital relationship to take a chance on the stepparenting relationship.
Sometimes I wonder why we think life should be easy. If we never experienced pain or heartache, we wouldn’t know to appreciate the good days. If we never saw rain, we wouldn’t appreciate sunshine.
When you walk through the challenges of stepparenting, and get to the other side, you cherish the place you arrive at. It won’t be perfect, but it will have meaning. The marital bonds will be strong because they’ve withstood the pressure of trials. The stepparent/stepchild relationships will be special because they’ve persisted through good times and bad. The stepfamily as a unit will be a safe place – a place of peace and comfort for those who have walked the journey together.
Is it worth is? Yes!
Does it come with a price? Yes…
You know the price, don’t you? Heartache. Pain. Doubt. Confusion. The list could go on and on.
So when do you get to the rewards? Unfortunately, there are no pat answers to some of those rewards. The stepparent and stepfamily rewards I mentioned may not come as soon as you want. They may take many more years than you’d hoped. But–the reward of strong marital bonds can happen today.
You see, the beauty of stepfamily life is it offers a bond in marriage you may have never had. The challenges of stepparenting can bind a marriage closer through constant communication, learning to manage conflict effectively, practicing a united front as a parental unit, and other team building interactions.
The beauty of a strong marriage can outweigh the heartache of stepparenting. It can make the heartache worth it.
But it requires work. It requires intentional effort. It requires two people making a commitment to a marriage that will go the distance, even when there’s pain.
Are you up for the challenge? I hope so.
Because some day… your stepchildren will leave home. And you’ll have the rest of your life to enjoy with your spouse…if you didn’t quit.
How do you answer that question? Is the heartache of stepparenting worth it?