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TherapistMarryAnn
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5770
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Hi there, Re Blended Family and psychosis/anxiety/depression I

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Hi there,

Re: Blended Family and psychosis/anxiety/depression

I have been struggling with the complications of being a step mother (i have no kids of my own) to two girls aged 13 & 11 for the last 3 years. I have had a lot of conflict with my husband over financial issues, feeling like a 3rd wheel in my own home when they come to visit for the weekend every fortnight, discipline where i feel my husband is more lax and tolerant about behaviour than i am, i felt that i had to change my social life around the kids and spend time with a family that the kids have known for a long time instead of with my single or coupled friends, unable to participate in regular activities such as dancing lessons or joining a tennis club with my husband as he would not be able to commit to attendance when the kids come around.

Feelings seemed to settle down for the last 6 months last year however after an overseas family trip to see my husband's sister & family and his mother things have deteriorated over the last 5 months. I felt unhappy to be staying at his sister's place for 2 weeks as i did not feel welcome or treated with the same hospitality that i am used to giving and receiving. I felt that they were more interested in spending time with my step kids and my husband and busy with their own family activities. As this was the first time visiting my husband's hometown, i was eager to explore the place. However his family had expected to just stay at home and catch up. When we had plans to visit some attractions, they had simply postponed the trip 3 times and eventually we went without them. My husband felt that his needs were not fully met as he did not spend as much time with his family as he usually did. I felt stiffled in having to fit in with the way they did things and how his sister imposed her views on me. Even though she had step children of her own, she had no empathy for the difficulties i faced with mine. instead she took over the parenting role during those 2 weeks and the girls responded very well to her and even let her discipline them. quite the opposite of how they respond to me. this resulted in me backing off from them completely to avoid competing with my sister-in-law for authority and the parenting role. at the end of the trip, i was no longer on speaking terms with my mother & sister-in-law. i don't ever want to see them again nor do i want to go on holiday with the kids again. the number of digs and criticisms the in laws made of me in the presence of my family were unbelievable. my husband did not notice or understand any of them, even though i pointed them out to him. His family felt that i treated them, my husband and my step daughters badly during the trip and my sister-in-law has since asked him to leave me. he responded saying that he loved me and wishes to work things out with me.

Since returning home, the step daughters no longer stay over every fortnight. Instead my husband spends one day with them alone and also sees one girl by herself on one weeknight. His ex-wife who came on the trip to see her family has since been passing my husband large bills for one daughter's orthodontics and horse riding fees without any advanced planning or warning. My husband took on the expenses without getting my agreement as he feels it's his responsibility. I am likely to lose my job due to an organisational merger and wanted to defer large expenses until my job situation was stable. I disagree with sending the kids to horse riding as it is an expensive hobby which we will not be able to afford if they become serious about it and the fees will be too expensive when they get older. I don't believe that my husband will prioritise my marriage and our needs. After committing to those expenses and subsequently setting a percentage ceiling of his salary that would go towards funding the kids, he has argued the details of where the funds will be going. Even though there is an amount in writing that goes towards his expenses, he has now said that this should go to the kids.

I feel that my husband and i have too many differences in parenting styles and my inputs are heard but not acted upon. even though agreements are made my husband does not keep to them. this has only happened after the trip to see his family.

All the conflict has made me very unhappy for a very long time. i have had bouts of psychosis where i feel people in public or at work are conspiring against me or talking about me. i have taken risperal on and off. before being a step parent i had never experienced this before. i have run out of emotional capacity to continue in the marriage although my husband wants to keep working things out. we have been for 7 sessions of counselling but the last one has confirmed that the kids make my husband happy and the opposite holds true for me. Please advise. i often feel anxiety or anger in my tummy and need help with this and sometimes have meltdowns.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

 

It sounds like you are making a serious effort to make your blended family work. You've tried many things that are recommended to help work the problems out with your marriage and your family.

 

From what you said, it sounds like you inherited a family when you married your husband, made an effort to make it work, and are now finding that you are still an outsider. It makes it difficult to be part of the family if you are not included.

 

You are saying that you feel you cannot put more effort into the marriage because your husband is happier with his kids and you are happier when you are on your own without the kids. It sounds like your husband has not helped to put you first as the other parent. It seems he is putting the needs of the kids and his bond with them over his relationship with you. If he is not willing to put you first, then it will be very tough to make your marriage work. It is partly his responsibility to initiate the relationships between you and his kids and you and his relatives. By not showing you are first in his life, he is letting others push you aside as well.

 

Even in marriages with both biological parents, the husband and wife have to function as a unit. They cannot put the needs of the kids (or anyone or anything) first or the marriage will not survive. It's like on the airplanes when they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before your children, you must make sure your marriage is strong (and breathing) before you can make sure the children are ok.

 

You have a couple of options. You can talk with your husband again and mention what we said here. See if he is willing to work on this angle of your marriage. If not, then you have another choice. You can try a trial separation. It will give you a chance to see if things improve for your marriage and for you.

 

You can also work on educating yourself about your situation and see if you can try anything else before considering ending your marriage. Here are some resources for you:

 

Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage by Lee Raffel

 

How to Know If It's Time to Go: A 10-Step Reality Test for Your Marriage by Dr. Lawrence Birnbach and Dr. Beverly Hyman

 

Remarried with Children: Ten Secrets for Successfully Blending and Extending Your Family by Barbara LeBey

 

You can find these on Amazon.com or your local library may have them for you.

I hope this helps you,
Kate

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