How she got over her sense of doom

Picture of a family - 2 parents. 2 Kids

So there it was, her family photo: Fiance. Her bio kids. Her stepdaughter. 

 

But something was off. 

 

Her kids’ faces were covered with magnets. 

 

At first she thought it was just a mistake and she simply moved the magnets. 

 

But after doing that about 8 times, she lost it. 

 

She felt like this family that she wanted to work, just wasn’t going to work. 

 

The arguments that ensued with her fiance after the fact nearly ended their relationship.

 

She felt doomed. 

 

She was jumping to the worst possible scenario – which is a very normal, human thing to do. 

 

But there were a few things she was forgetting. 

 

She was forgetting to consider the best case scenario: that things will work out anyways. 

 

She was forgetting about an in-between scenario: that sure, this might be a challenge to overcome, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of the family she longs to have. 

 

Worst case.  

 

Best case. 

 

Middle of the road. 

 

All choices. One makes her feel doomed. Makes her totally shut down and contemplate leaving. The other two give her hope, and encouragement. They inspire a different type of dialogue with her fiance. One that’s much more solutions oriented. 

 

So I invited her to make a deliberate choice. The best choice for her, and her family. And lean into that. 

 

She instantly knew what her choice would be (hint: it wasn’t her doomsday scenario!). 

 

And sometimes this is all it takes: just having someone remind us of our options, to pull us out of our funk. So we can keep building the family life we all crave. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Help! I married a Disneyland Dad!

I know what’s going on with your Disneyland partner. 

Let me be the first to say I know it’s not fun. 

 

And I know it can seem like no matter how hard you try, or how many times y’all talk (or fight) about your parenting approaches- you can’t get through. 

 

Nothing changes. Disneyland mom or dad is here to stay….maybe. 

 

So let’s talk about what’s going on with Disneyland mom or dad. 

 

The truth is that the way your partner parents has nothing to do with you. 

 

And it has everything to do with your spouse’s unresolved emotions. 

 

The Disneyland mom or dad doesn’t like confronting the kids, because it’s uncomfortable to have your kids talk back at you, or get upset at you. 

 

The disneyland mom or dad may feel guilty about the divorce – and is now trying to make it up to the kids by fulfilling all of their wants, and never setting up healthy boundaries. 

 

You don’t need to condone the behavior. 

 

But maybe there’s another way to address it with your Disneyland partner  – a way that may make forward momentum much more likely. 

 

Instead of discussing the rules you want to enforce, you can ask your spouse questions about what’s going on for him or her emotionally. Because the rules are a cover for the unresolved feelings. 

 

Why does he or she find it so difficult to enforce rules and dole out consequences? How is he or she feeling, truly? 

 

If asked with kindness, the answer may be freeing for you and your spouse. And it may bring you guys closer together. 

 

It may just help you reach a compromise. 

 

I can’t promise you that your partner will ever change – and no one can force another adult human to change. 

 

But if you change your approach, you may just be pleasantly surprised by what happens next. 

 

And hey, if you try it out, and make no traction, you always have a choice of whether to love and accept your partner anyways, or leave. 

 

You always have control over you, and your happiness. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

I was miserable. THIS changed everything

Does this sound like you? 

 

“My situation isn’t even that bad…. So I shouldn’t even be this miserable. I should just suck it up and deal with it.” 

 

Here’s my confession: this used to be me too. 

 

But one day I realized just how mean I was being to myself. And that by being mean to myself, my family dynamics were only getting worse. 

 

After all, misery loves company – and I was constantly miserable around my spouse, and my stepkids. 

 

Something had to change – and it started with me. 

 

I started to accept myself for being miserable – instead of beating myself up.  

 

I was a stepmom of 4. I was miserable – AND it was OK. I didn’t have to suck it up. I didn’t have to judge myself for being miserable. 

 

Just admitting that brought such a sense of relief. 

 

And once I dropped my self-judgement, I realized I had options: stay miserable or seek help.  

 

I choose the latter. And it was the best decision I ever made for myself and my marriage. 

 

I’m not miserable anymore. My marriage is easy. I adore my spouse. I repeatedly get to experience peace as a stepmom in all the chaos of virtual schooling with 4 children between the ages of 7 and 12. 

 

But no matter what, if you ARE miserable right now,  I want you to know it’s 100% OK – even if your situation isn’t anything like the horror stories you read in all those stepmom groups. 

 

Your feelings matter. Your experience right now is valid. 

 

And, with the right tools and support, more calm and loving relationships (and way less misery) are absolutely available to you.

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Feel better around your stepkids (without becoming a doormat)

Remember Katie? 

 

Last week I shared how she transformed her marriage, without trying to change her partner. And now I need to tell you what’s going on with her stepdaughter – let’s call her A. It’s too good not to share. 

 

When Katie and I first started working together, she really struggled with A. She felt like A was too whiny. Her stepdaughter reminded Katie of the other bio-parent, whom she really didn’t like. 

 

And ultimately, Katie felt like A didn’t actually like her. This made Katie reserved around her, and less patient. Katie wanted to love A more, but didn’t know how. 

 

And I totally get it – I let Katie know it’s not natural for us to love people who are difficult, who we think don’t actually like us. 

 

But, I also told Katie that loving A was always a choice. No matter how whiny A got. 

 

And so I helped Katie sell herself on loving her stepdaughter more. Because loving A more is something that actually benefits Katie just as much as the rest of her family. 

 

We talked about how loving A more would improve Katie’s marriage – because Katie wouldn’t complain so much about A’s behavior to her partner if she loved A more. 

 

We talked about how Katie’s relationship with A would improve too – because Katie would be softer, more patient, more understanding with A when she misbehaved. 

 

And now, Katie doesn’t struggle so much with A. She is a calmer and more understanding parent. She doesn’t condone A’s misbehavior but handles it with more patience. When A’s not around, she actually misses her. And her partner is thrilled. 

 

And the best part – A didn’t change one bit. But Katie’s entire experience as a stepmom and wife did.

 

Any one of us can enjoy more peaceful, loving, and authentic relationships with our stepkids – just like Katie. All we need is the desire for something better, and a willingness to make it happen. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Most Marriage Advice is Wrong (But this works)

I have to tell you about my client, Katie.

 

She came to me wanting to stop arguing so much with her partner. She believed her partner was way too permissive with her stepdaughter. She felt her partner was too emotional and difficult to talk to. 

 

They spent a lot of time yelling. Slamming doors. Walking away from each other. 

 

At first she was convinced her partner had to change in order for her marriage to work better. 

 

And I get it. It’s very easy to think that if the other person would change, things would be better. But this is a losing battle. Because it’s so hard to change other people, and changing ourselves in comparison is relatively easy. And ultimately, we only have control over ourselves. 

 

Through our work together, I taught her exactly how to communicate more calmly and effectively with her partner. I showed her not just what to say, but how to say it with more calmness, love, and understanding. 

 

And guess what? 

 

They are no longer arguing as much as they used to. Katie is less irritable and less reactive. She notices herself listening to her partner more, and really understanding her point of view. The change in Katie’s demeanor in turn helps her partner be less defensive, calmer, more loving. 

 

And ultimately, these changes have led to more productive and authentic conversations that actually build intimacy.

 

Katie isn’t a magic unicorn. She just wanted something better and was willing to change. Now she gets to enjoy the benefits of a less argumentative and stronger marriage. 

 

And here’s the best part. What Katie has, you can have too – it simply starts with the desire for a better marriage and a willingness to change. Anybody can do this. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Are you toxically shaming yourself?

Little girl with hands covering face

I have a confession to make. 

 

I’m not always nice to my stepkids. In fact, a few months ago, I was really mean to one of them. 

 

I was feeling outraged by his behavior. And I took it out on him. 

 

Immediately, I regretted it, and I shamed myself. 

 

I told myself there was something wrong with me, that I was a terrible human being, unfit for my role as stepmom…


And then I remembered shame serves no purpose. Shaming yourself is like trying to ride a unicycle; except every time you fall off, instead of getting back up and trying again, you literally punch yourself in the face. Eventually you’ll quit trying because of all the self-inflicted pain. 

 

And that’s what shame does. It’s toxic. 

 

In order to stop shaming myself, I had to change what was going on in my head – stop believing that I was unfit and a terrible human. 

 

So I gave myself permission to believe there was actually nothing wrong with me – because I am human. No human is perfect. I simply reacted to some strong emotions. And every single human says things they don’t mean – me included!  

 

Doing this gave me such a sense of relief. It allowed me to apologize, learn from myself, and consider how to handle the situation differently in the future. 

 

And here’s the best part: You can do this for yourself too. You don’t have to keep shaming yourself. You can remind yourself that you’re human and there’s nothing wrong with you. You make mistakes, just like the best of ‘em. And that’s OK. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Her heart was broken (but yours doesn’t have to)

two women

I have an important message to share. You ready? 



The other day I read about a fellow stepmom who had spent a lot of time grieving all of the firsts she had missed with her current husband – a first child, a first wedding, a first honeymoon, a first house purchase. 



2nd wife grief is very common and it’s OK to grieve if she wants to. 



But what no one ever told her is that it’s also always optional to grieve about all the firsts she had missed. 

 

Her only issue here? She just might not have realized she had a choice about grieving in the first place. 

 

Instead of focusing on what she doesn’t have (because she can’t change it), she could instead focus on what her and her husband do have as a couple and who she to her husband now: 

 

Maybe the new house isn’t HIS first house, but it’s THEIR first house – and that’s special and amazing too. 

 

Maybe she’s not his first wife, but she’s the only woman he loves now. And he loves her so much. (And maybe there’s nothing special about being the first woman at all because, hey, the first one didn’t work out 😉). 

 

Grieving what she doesn’t have and can’t change in her marriage is always optional.

 

And if she wants to, she can just decide to focus on what is good and special in her life and marriage now, and drop the rest. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

My stepkids ignored me…Until I did this

Woman smiling

Do your stepkids ignore you sometimes (or maybe like all the time)? 

 

If this is you, I get it. It feels horrible and kind of humiliating. My stepkids used to do it to me too. 

 

But here’s the important thing: my stepkids no longer treat me this way. 

 

And here’s how I changed it: 

 

I decided that their behavior truly wasn’t about ME as a person – I could have been any woman in the household and, the same thing would have happened.  

 

Because here is what is true: children who ignore their stepparents simply aren’t ready to accept their new reality of divorce and remarriage.

 

So once I understood their behavior wasn’t about me, I was able to have a calm discussion with my husband about a new set of rules and expectations based on our values as a family (e.g. we don’t ignore other people when they speak to us, or when we’re all at the table, etc.) 

 

Then I took on the responsibility of also enforcing consequences for the ignoring behaviors. Calmly. Every single time I noticed.  

 

And eventually their behavior changed. 

 

So the real secret to making this happen in your household? You can implement my 3-part solution too: 


Depersonalize: Remember their behavior isn’t about you. It’s about them. (And let’s be real: all kids are kind of born as sociopaths until we teach them otherwise)


Solve: And then from there, you come up with a solution with your spouse (There’s lots of advice on the Googles for how to enforce rules!). 


Enforce: And then you get to calmly enforce the solution, whatever that looks like in your family. Show the kids what your values are as a person, and as a couple.

 

And eventually the kiddos will learn. And they’ll accept you and respect you way more. But only because you decided that their behavior wasn’t personal and then showed them, with calm, how to treat you. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Got bio mom drama? Try THIS for instant relief

Woman smiling

Got drama with the other bio parent? You’re not alone…so many of us experience it. 

 

But so many of us don’t know how to deal. 

 

And I teach my clients a really simple way of managing it. You ready? 

 

Let me introduce you to Tracy. 

 

Tracy has two stepkids and a husband, Mike. 

 

Mike’s ex-wife, Katrina, constantly calls him and texts him. 

 

And this makes Tracy’s blood boil. She thinks Katrina isn’t respecting her relationship with Mike and that she’s trying to control him. 

 

She wants Mike to stand up to Katrina – to lay his foot down and make her stop. 

 

So she argues with Mike about Katrina…all the time. 

 

But here’s what I told Tracy the other day: 

 

No matter what Mike does, his ex will probably never stop. No one can control another adult human being. Katrina will probably keep being Katrina. 

 

But what Tracy can control is whether she makes the ex’s behavior a problem for her marriage. 

 

She can just decide that Katrina’s actions don’t mean anything about her relationship with Mike. 

 

And in fact, the way Katrina behaves has everything to do with her own insecurities, and nothing to do with Tracy and Mike. (Because let’s be real: if someone is calling and texting all the time, they are really insecure). 

 

So Tracy doesn’t have to keep arguing with Mike to make Katrina stop. Because Mike can’t do that. 

 

But Tracy can decide Katrina is simply insecure, and her behavior isn’t a problem for her relationship. And then she can just focus on enjoying her time more with Mike, rather than arguing with him so much. 

 

And when she does that, when she drops the arguments, she’ll get to experience a stronger, more connected marriage AND way less drama. 

 

And what I told Tracy to do is available to all of us: 


We can all decide to let go of the idea that we (or our spouses) can change the other bio parent.


We can all decide that the other bio parent’s behavior has nothing to do with us – no matter the behavior. 



And that is how we can experience instant relief (and ultimately a stronger marriage). And it’s available to all of us right here. Right now. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

I’m inspired

Woman on couch

I’ve been thinking about you. 

 

And here’s what I want you to know:

 

YOU inspire me.  

 

Because you agreed to help raise someone else’s kids. For love.

 

You are a dreamer – you had a vision for a beautiful life with another person, and the stepkids.

 

You are a risk-taker – you never imagined being a stepmom. You may have married your man or woman against the advice of friends, family, and society.

 

You might not see yourself this way, but I do.

 

So my best advice to you is: don’t give up hope just yet. I believe in you, and the deepest desires you have for your stepfamily relationships.

 

You ARE strong enough to overcome whatever is going on right now in your stepfamily.

 

You ARE capable of figuring it all out.

 

 

You are a lover. A risk-taker. A dreamer.

 

And you inspire me. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.