I am engaged to a woman who has not yet divorced her former husband. We have been together several years and have a two year old son. Her children from the former marriage live with us as their father has been dealing with drug and alcohol addictions. He is creating a number of problems in the divorce proceedings. The children are angry at him and the world. I am angry and frustrated and my fiancé feels guilty and responsible for all the stress. How can I manoeuvre the next few months and get through to our wedding?
That’s a lot of reasons to feel angry and frustrated. First and foremost you need to take care of yourself. You are expected to be a support to your fiancé, parent your step children and parent your own child. These are very personal and emotional expectations.
Are the divorce demands going to escalate? Would mediation help? You can ask your fiancé’s lawyer about how to mitigate the problems that have arisen. Guilt is a part of the divorce process no matter what the circumstances. Resolving the divorce problems will help resolve some of that guilt.
Next you need to ask yourself if the wedding should go ahead in a few months or could you wait until there is less stress in your family. If there are reasons that you want to be married straight away after the divorce then perhaps have a short ceremony and plan a celebration with family and friends when life is more settled. Your special day should be filled with happiness.
Are your step children feeling positive about the marriage? They live with you but they are ‘angry and frustrated’. Is that solely because of their father’s problems or are there other things bothering them?
A child deals with problems from a child’s perspective. They do not have adult coping skills. At any age, anger is often an outward expression over the loss of personal control. Your step children have watched as their own family unraveled and now there is most likely a fear of what the future might bring with this new family makeup. They are probably worried about their own father as well as their place in the family.
Understanding that there are reasons for the anger, frustration, and guilt will help you cope and be a support to your family.
A children’s counselor can be very helpful. A counselor is an objective third party and a good one will help your step children develop strategies to deal with their anger. As much as we parents try to help and counsel our children, sometimes what they really need is an impartial perspective.
The following link provides information about children’s mental health issues and counseling options.
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ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.