I write this email with a heavy heart because I just don’t know what to do anymore. But I can’t help how I feel, and it’s hurting myself and my fiancé. Her son is 5 years old, she was not married to the bio-dad. He is also around, but jobless, careless, money-less. So no support help…even though she said she filed.
Her and I are on the exact same playing field for parenting. And we’re also a great match otherwise…but I find myself jealous -confusingly jealous-, that she has a son and I do not. All my life my only goal was a family. I worked hard, went to college, got the career, did it all correct, and that bio-dad gets to have a son and be such a loser…leaving I to pick up the slack.
The jealousy has gotten so bad…when she hugs him excitingly or praises him with vigor, I sometimes have to leave the room. It has caused me to be mean to her verbally out of hurt and caused me to be very unhappy. I don’t know what to do? How can I successfully make this work? –Tony
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
You situation sounds like you’re feeling much more than “finite” disappointment. That’s concerning. Being a parent should never be about our needs. Our primary focus should be on the child. It’s a good sign that you seem to understand the jealousy you’re dealing with is coming from you, not your fiancé. That’s a good first step in getting past it. You’ve made mistake too many step parents make: You see the child as someone else’s. However, your reaction isn’t common. The negative feelings you have are allowing you to react badly to the situation. If you’re intending to marry your fiancé, you need to get past those feelings first.
Jealousy is a powerful emotion. Its an unhealthy way to view the situation. Naturally your fiancé should have a good relationship with her son. It’s a positive thing. Being a good Stepdad requires you to act as a parent, not just an adult. You can’t simultaneously hold such unhealthy feelings about your child and treat him with the love and affection he needs.
In any new Stepdad marriage I recommend that the couple discuss the Stepdad’s role. Take time to talk it out with your fiancé. Ask where she sees you in the child’s life and agree on what your role will be (Stepdad, dad, kind uncle, buddy…). Once you’ve defined the role, it’s also good to talk with her about how she sees that role. It’s easy to make a mistake when you agree on a role. For instance; what one person defines as “dad behavior” can be completely different than how another sees it. Talking in detail helps you both start from the same page and will prevent future problems. Be specific and follow through. Understanding his role can help a new Stepdad have a more positive attitude about his family life. It will give him a higher sense of purpose. As I said, I recommend all new Stepdads do this exercise. In reality it may not fix the reaction you’re having.
You don’t need to share DNA to love and care about a child. You don’t need to be called “dad” to know a child loves you like a parent, but you can’t get there with jealousy in your heart. Don’t even consider marrying her until you’ve dealt with those feelings. Bad feelings will have negative effects on your relationship and on your child. If you find you can’t get beyond those feelings see a therapist It’s important to dig deep and be honest with yourself about where these emotions are coming from. There’s a very good chance there’s more to your reaction than simple jealousy. Uncovering the source of the problem should have a positive effect on the rest of your life.
Best of luck.