Boundaries with the man is part 2 of a series of articles by Erin Careless on The Stepmom’s Guide to Peace. Click here for Boundaries with the Stepfamily which is Part 1.
I know what you’re thinking. People in love shouldn’t have boundaries!
Au contraire mon cher, au contraire.
Again, boundaries are not negative. They help you to navigate the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of yourself and others. They allow you to express your needs in a space of care and compassion.
So let’s say hubby works 9-5, and you start work in the afternoons.
He has started getting up and heading out the door without waking up the stepkids or doing anything to prepare for the morning rush that has you rousing grumpy and grumpier, throwing together lunches, and combing down hair as you run out the door to drive them to school. It’s stressful, exhausting, and you are starting to resent the sound of the door slamming behind him as he whistles his way to the car.
Let’s look at our four steps in establishing boundaries:
- Identify your inner thoughts.
You don’t want to say anything to your hubby because you don’t want him to think you are complaining about his kids being at the house. You don’t want to add more stress to his day and make him think you are not meeting him half way in this marriage. You don’t want him to think you don’t like his children.
- Challenge your inner thoughts.
Will he really feel that way about you? Does he have any idea about how much you struggle in the mornings? He’s probably not changing because he thinks there is nothing to change – he’s not a mind-reader. He knows you really like spending time with the kids, but maybe doesn’t realize how this stress is affecting your work too.
- Establish and implement the boundary.
Before you blow up and yell about how awful your mornings are, take some time to think about what would make this situation better.
You don’t mind driving the kids to school at all, but perhaps it would be easier if hubby woke them up and got them started before he left. Making lunches the night before would also save lots of time and stress.
Over dinner one night, when the stepkids are with their mom, you pour two glasses of wine and say, “I’d really like to talk with you about something, would this be a good time?” And then you talk about what you have been thinking and feeling.
Refrain from complaining about how grumpy the kids are – no need to hurt his feelings – but clearly let him know that the mornings are really stressful and you need a hand. Chances are he has no idea how upset you’ve been and hopefully he’s willing to do whatever he can to alleviate that stress.
- At the end of the school term, you talk about how much smoother the days run, now that the kids lunches and backpacks are ready to go the night before, and that dear hubby gets the grumpy faces when he wakes them up (don’t feel bad, they’re his kids!). You find you get along with the kids better than before, and you no longer shoot imaginary daggers at the door when your man leaves. You decide to keep this routine going, and if there’s the odd morning that hubby has to leave early, you don’t mind filling in at all.
Click here for Part 3 – Stepmom’s Guide to Peace – Boundaries with the Ex-wife
Erin is a PhD Candidate in Adult Education at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
A certified Stepfamily Coach, Erin has started her own business, Steplife – Stepmom Coaching and Support.
Erin and her husband Matt share their home part-time with his two kids, Oliver and Waverleigh.