The scene is all too familiar at this point. Your teenage stepson just stormed up the stairs and slammed his bedroom door for the one-thousandth time and you are sitting with your head in your hands utterly defeated yet again. It may seem that your stepson is ruining your marriage but that does not necessarily have to be the case.
This specific situation has two separate components. The entire stepfamily dynamic, and the unique teenage stage of life.
While it may seem logical to look at the teenage aspect first, it may be more beneficial to start with the big picture of the stepfamily life and dynamic it presents. Stepfamilies can be healthy, thriving units, but the reality is that they are born out of the dust of at least one broken relationship. Each person enters the new stepfamily unit with their own baggage, good and bad.
Combining households, belongings, and lives can be a monumental task which is part of the reason why your teenage stepson might be trying to ruin your marriage.
Guide to Teenage Stepson Ruining Your Marriage
- Try to view the situation from the teen’s point of view. They likely did not want their original family unit to fall apart, and they probably had no interest in being brought into a new one. Being empathetic towards their situation may help them view you as an ally, not an enemy.
- The stepfamily dynamic is likely to exaggerate already complex emotions. It is likely even teenage boys with a tough persona will feel confused and hurt at times. Unfortunately, you are likely to be an easy target for them. Allowing them to process their emotions, while requiring respect as their stepparent, can help to bring necessary healing.
- Maintain your sense of humor. Stress levels are bound to rise but making a conscious effort to keep a positive attitude and sense of humor can help you cope. Some behavior you may see in your stepson is just typical teenage behavior and it does not require a full parental intervention. Save your energy for the things that truly matter.
- Be willing to enter into his world. Make a conscious effort to be a part of the things that interest him and bring him life. It may be sports, video games, or music. Regardless, you send an important message to him by being willing to learn about his interests and be a part of them. This is one tangible way to let him know that you value him as a unique individual.
- Acknowledge that you are human and have shortcomings. Your teen may be critical of some of your decisions or parenting techniques. While it is neither reasonable nor appropriate to adjust to every critique, it may be beneficial to reevaluate when you are able. Showing that you value his input and are willing to admit when a poor decision was made, will help to establish mutual goodwill and trust in your relationship.
- Expect some back and forth in the building of your relationship. We mentioned that mood swings were common in teens and that may show up here as well. You and your teenage stepson may have had a fun-filled weekend and been on good terms only to find yourself at odds by Tuesday. This is just another situation where you need to focus on being stable and consistent. Continue to be invested in the relationship even when he is not.
Despite potential obstacles, it is entirely possible for stepfamilies to thrive. It will require an ongoing commitment to the marriage itself and to all family members.
Continue to seek out resources that can guide you through the challenges you are facing. Articles, books, podcasts, and even mentors who have walked the same road can provide you with valuable wisdom. You may wish to consider family counseling to get a fresh perspective on your situation.
Many have gone before you and much of what you are experiencing is very normal so keep pushing on and aim for a brighter future.
Now that we have looked at the big picture, we can focus on the specific teenager aspect.
Everyone would likely agree that the teenage years are just rough in general. When you add in a difficult dynamic such as entering a stepfamily, things can become even more tumultuous.
To begin, it is important to remember that the teenage years are about developing independence and autonomy. Teens are not necessarily in a season of wanting to hang out with family and share their feelings. Mood swings and struggles for control are fairly normal occurrences.
Your teenage stepson trying to ruin your marriage can be a way of him showing rebellion against the new dynamic.
As much as you want to have compassion and understand the new shift, you need to remember to also not let your marriage fall apart just because he does not approve. Unfortunately, many stepfamilies fall apart because the children were fighting to break it apart and the parents never jumped in to stop this.
Ways to Stop Stepson from Ruining your Marriage
1. Have a Talk
The most important thing that needs to happen in this situation is to have a talk with the stepchild. Understanding his point of view is important but at the same time, he needs to understand that what he is doing is wrong.
Explain that the things he is doing are causing strain in the family relationship and that he needs to stop. let him know that if he is angry about this whole situation, he can talk about it and you as a family unit can work through this.
This talk should also include the husband so he can include his point of view and because he is the biological father of the stepson.
A great way to stop your stepson from ruining your marriage is to start having family bonding time.
When a group of people are having fun, enjoying each other’s company, and creating memories, a strong bond is formed. If your stepson experiences these moments, he will less likely want the marriage to end and more likely want to preserve it.
There are many great bonding ideas to choose from that can appeal to people of all ages.
Tips for Parenting in a Stepfamily
Having to say “my teenage stepson is ruining my marriage” should not be something a parent has to say. Here are some tips that may help keep your stepfamily moving in a positive direction
1. Realize that you and your spouse are the adults in charge
That may sound like an obvious statement, but it can be a necessary reminder. Children, of any age, are likely to have trouble processing some of the various parts of stepfamily life. Doing all you can to remain consistent and stable will help them to thrive as well.
This means being responsible and taking charge when situations do get out of hand. With that being said, be careful not to abuse that power though. You as a leader of the household should be responsible and fair in every judgment.
Choosing sides can further escalate things which is the last scenario you want as a parent.
2. Do not give children power that does not belong to them.
There can be tremendous guilt weighing on parents after the breakup of the original family unit. In some cases, the guilt causes parents to let their children call the shots in areas where it is not appropriate.
While they have endured some stressful situations, this is not the time to let children decide that school assignments and chores have become optional.
Although they may push against it, they need structure and accountability more than ever now. They need you to be a dependable adult in charge and hold the boundaries in place.
3. Do not speak poorly about the other parent
This is a common struggle that often leads to significant damage in the stepfamily. It can be easy to find faults in your spouse’s ex but children are likely to use your negative remarks about their parent to begin a conflict between you and your spouse.
It is far better to remain positive and let your spouse be the one to handle any problems that need to be addressed with their ex.
4. Let your spouse discipline their own children
As time goes by, and the relationship between you and your stepchildren strengthens, you may be able to discipline them effectively. But that is not likely to be the case early on. It is best to default to their parent and avoid being viewed as the evil stepparent.
This is because as you are joining a new family, you are considered an outsider to the children. They are not used to you being in charge so this makes you “irrelevant” in disciplinary actions.
If you jump in right away and start disciplining them, they will have a first bad impression of you which will carry on throughout your relationship. This is a common reason why a teenage stepson might be ruining a marriage.
5. Support your spouse spending time alone with their children
Amid all the changes, children may be longing for things that are comfortable and familiar.
Support your spouse in making time for special outings and activities that they may have done with their children before you were married. This may help them to be more receptive to new family activities and traditions that you wish to establish.
6. Carve out time to create new family memories
It is important for every member of the family to view themselves as a part of this new family unit. Spend intentional time together even if you experience resistance in the process.
Try to include a variety of activities that may appeal to different members of the family. While some children may enjoy afternoon rock climbing, others may prefer Saturday night game night. It is important to remain consistent and keep trying; building relationships is a long-term process.
Final Thoughts – My Teenage Stepson Is Ruining My Marriage
If your teenage stepson is ruining your marriage, it is either due to the dynamic change or the teenage stage of life.
It can be stressful and annoying when such things happen but understanding that there is a solution is important. Many blended families fall apart because the children refuse to accept it and the parents became too overwhelmed and gave up.
When facing this situation, you need to understand why he wants to ruin the marriage, then talk about solutions and ways to avoid this whole mess. It might take a while but it is worth it for the sake of the family.