Forming a new family can be quite challenging. This is exceptionally true for the stepparent who is inadvertently filling another very important person’s shoes. While the expectation is that older children will be more mature and accepting, what do you do if your grown stepson is ruining your marriage?
3 Steps to Prevent Your Stepson from Ruining Your Marriage
#1 – Consider The Reason For This Behavior
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”.– Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird
Whether your stepchild is five or twenty-five, this is a new experience for him. It can be hard for him to wrap his head around one of his parents being replaced. Holidays, birthdays, and other family gatherings will never be quite the same.
You are different. Why would his father choose you and not stay with his mom? One main reason that your stepson may be acting out is that he is concerned about your intentions.
Think about the time frame between the divorce or death of his loved one and when his other parent got remarried to you. If the amount of time that has passed is too short, this union could be seen as rushed, implying the wrong intentions. Conversely, if it has been an extremely long time in between these events, it could be that your stepson feels like his relationship with his father has drastically changed due to your presence.
Also, consider the age gap between you and your spouse. There is a chance that if your grown stepson believes that you are too young for his parent, it could cause distrust and even problematic behavior.
While you are likely undeserving of this treatment, he is allowed to have feelings about this new family arrangement. Therefore, it is up to you to try and build a positive step-parent/stepson relationship so that you can show him that your objectives are pure.
Another cause for the sabotage can be based on his own feelings of guilt. It may be that he finds you to be a wonderful person, but also sees these emotions as a betrayal to the parent that you replaced. Unfortunately, if this is the case, it is up to the original parent to remedy the situation.
This solidifies why it is so important for you to not only form a bond with your stepson, but also a cordial relationship with their biological mother or father. By working to create a harmonious family unit, there is less worry about a child feeling the need to pick a side.
#2 – Build A Rapport With Your Stepson
If your grown stepson is ruining your marriage, don’t sit on the sidelines. Do something about it! The first step is to try and create a solid foundation. Investigate his interests and find ways for you to engage in these types of activities.
Remember that the worst thing you can do is change how you act around different members of the family. You don’t have to like Nascar, but consider planning a trip to go watch a race. Then while you are there, ask him to explain the sport, why his interests lie in this type of activity, and who his favorite drivers are at this particular event.
It is important that you show an interest in your stepson, despite his previous actions. Moreover, if you have younger kids who still live in the house, treat each child the same. Gifts should be equal during the holidays. Extend an open-ended dinner invitation to him. Invite him on family excursions, even if they don’t seem to be his type of pastime.
You never want to alienate him just because he is no longer living in the house. You want your stepson to feel included in the family. Children need uniformity and to see things as “being fair”. Additionally, never make comparisons between your children and him. This will only deepen the gap between the two of you.
#3 – Address The Issue Head On
If you have made a valiant effort to better your relationship with your grown stepson, allowing him to see you in a different light, and he is still making efforts to sabotage your marriage, it is time to have some candid discussions.
Talk To Your Spouse
First and foremost, address the issue with your spouse in a calm and collected manner. This is their child and they are prone to side with them out of love and loyalty. Point out specific instances where wrongdoing has occurred. Explain how it has made you feel and that you have tried to look past these moments, but it is getting out of hand.
Then ask how your spouse would like to proceed. This person is an adult, but he is clearly acting like a child. However, he is not YOUR biological child. Thus, your spouse should be the one to bridge this issue initially.
Something to note – if your stepson still lives under your roof, it is also his biological parent’s job to set and enforce house rules. He may be grown, but if he is not paying rent, then he should not have a say in how things are run. This should include being respectful to a stepparent. Have a discussion with your significant other about what will happen if his attitude does not change and let your spouse make this decision known to him.
Talk To Your Stepson
If the initial talk from his “real” parent does not do the trick, then take a swing at having your own conversation. Remember that the goal is to engage in open and honest communication and to avoid an accusatory tone.
Let him know how you feel about him as well as your spouse. Express your gratitude for gestures that he has done to make you feel welcome. Note that you will never replace his real parent, but rather, you are just excited to be a bonus person in his life, who will always be in his corner.
Tips – When Your Grown Stepson is Ruining Your Marriage
While you may have the title of “stepparent”, you will not actually be parenting your grown stepson. This puts you in an odd position trying to figure out what your role actually is in his life. The answer will vary from person to person. However, you should always be someone who encourages him to live his best life and work towards his passions.
Additionally, find little ways to show that you care and don’t always take credit. A picture is worth a thousand words. Let him see your intentions and sentiments. Also, remember the Golden Rule — “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. Your goal should be to kill him with kindness, just in a very subtle way. Finally, examine the relationship he had with your spouse, prior to your arrival. If he and his father are exceptionally close, make sure that they continue to have time together, without you tagging along. This gives him time to privately discuss any issues he may have as well as allow him to feel as if things are not quite as different with you around!