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Just remarried a few months ago, both our second with three kids apiece. The kids vary from 9-24 yrs old - all get along and no issues that need to be addressed from what I see.

My issue is that I see myself as an afterthought to wife. She worries about her kids and I understand that. I do. I just feel that she doesn't see me as an equal. I feel like I am being left out until she can get a grip on what is going on with her three. There are legitimate issues and concerns with my step kids and I feel like crap thinking I should say something to her at this point. I refuse to talk to any one else because I do not want to share that emotion with anyone but my wife. As this happens I feel like she takes a role of mom over being a wife first..and although I can understand it, I feel like I am being neglected.

I have told her that I am her for support and she refuses because she says I have my own issues that I am working on and she feels like she isn't going to dump on me even more. I have never refused to help her in any way. I have raised my kids since their mom left and I know the struggles of being a parent. I just wish I had my wife more for me. I feel guilty even writing that let alone thinking it.

I love her and I am lost at what I could do - if I can do anything.
 

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It would help to know how old each of your children are. And how long were each of you single before marrying.

The spouse should always come first. Why? Because the children need their parents to be a strong foundation.

As you know you have a situation where she has been alone with her children for some time. So now she has to change those dynamics. She might not realize this. It’s a learning process.

Have you looked for any good books on how to blend families? I know that there are some good ones about step parenting as it’s not at all like parenting one’s own children.

As it is, how many hours a week are you and your wife spending in quality time, just the two of you?
 

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I have told her that I am her for support and she refuses because she says I have my own issues that I am working on and she feels like she isn't going to dump on me even more. I have never refused to help her in any way. I have raised my kids since their mom left and I know the struggles of being a parent. I just wish I had my wife more for me. I feel guilty even writing that let alone thinking it.

I love her and I am lost at what I could do - if I can do anything.
You two are married; that means you are a team. Whatever happens to her, also happens to you because your lives are intertwined. She is dumping on you by pretending she can keep her issues from impacting you and your marriage. Keep trying to help her see that. She seems blind to the effect it's having on you. Tell her that trying to work it out by herself is leaving both of you out in the cold. You have to work things out together. Make her believe you need to be there for each other in order to work things out.
 

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The marriage has to come first & more importantly, she should value it the most. I was left bottom of the totem pole for the past 3 yrs, after her daughter and now our grand daughter. I was told repeatedly that a marriage that isn't #1, will eventually fail and it is true.
 

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I think the emotions you are feeling are probably normal. And I agree it is a learning process, both my husband and I brought a daughter each into our marriage. There was an adjustment period for us, especially since my daughter's father passed away around the time we got married. But prior to that it was just me and her, so at first it was hard to even think about putting my husband above her. But really, it's healthy for her to see what a healthy marriage and team work looks like.

I have some articles and books that I read that helped me along the way. I'm often hesitant to offer the stuff that has helped me because they are often faith based and I don't want to offend, but if you are interested let me know.
 

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The 24 year old has been an adult for 6 years and ought to be handling most of his own affairs. Now, how many kids are we actually talking about? Worrying is a useless activity. Do these "kids" have challenges that can and should be corrected through the assistance of their parents or might the most loving assistance be to let them feel the full cruel weight of their own stupidness so they can learn from it? There is a fine line between "mothering" and "enabling".
 

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Merging families always comes with significant challenges. In my mind, a lot of it boils down to "nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

It will probably take a year or more to build the kind of relationship that allows the two of you to truly work as a team, but as she learns that you are as committed to her and to her children as you are to yourself and yours, it will become more possible. You may *have* to put the children first for a period of time in order to demonstrate that your love is genuine and permanent, but this should be done with a direct, spoken agreement that you won't allow the relationship to suffer, either.

I would encourage the two of you to discuss this in terms of how a strong marriage gives your children a strong example for a healthy adulthood and the relationships they will have later. Emphasize that mutual support is the most important thing your children can learn about healthy relationships, and that the two of you have a duty to be examples of that.

She may fear that you'll let her down. Be sure not to, and have the same expectations of her.
 

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Merging families always comes with significant challenges. In my mind, a lot of it boils down to "nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

It will probably take a year or more to build the kind of relationship that allows the two of you to truly work as a team, but as she learns that you are as committed to her and to her children as you are to yourself and yours, it will become more possible. You may *have* to put the children first for a period of time in order to demonstrate that your love is genuine and permanent, but this should be done with a direct, spoken agreement that you won't allow the relationship to suffer, either.
I would encourage the two of you to discuss this in terms of how a strong marriage gives your children a strong example for a healthy adulthood and the relationships they will have later. Emphasize that mutual support is the most important thing your children can learn about healthy relationships, and that the two of you have a duty to be examples of that.

She may fear that you'll let her down. Be sure not to, and have the same expectations of her.
Depends on situation. Generally team work and united front - I get that, but in step family situations is hard. We have his - hers and ours. It's easier to be united front to your own kids. When someone doesn't have the same history you do with your individual kids, that's when issues happen. H and I can handle our two together kids like no one's business, but I don't have the patience or background with his daughter and he doesn't have the patience with mine. When my son was critically ill a few months ago, I had to deal alone with him for majority. As a step parent, you can't get time off to live in another city for a 2 month recovery. My son had to come first. It's a situational thing. You shouldn't always come first nor should you always come last.
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Depends on situation. Generally team work and united front - I get that, but in step family situations is hard. We have his - hers and ours. It's easier to be united front to your own kids. When someone doesn't have the same history you do with your individual kids, that's when issues happen. H and I can handle our two together kids like no one's business, but I don't have the patience or background with his daughter and he doesn't have the patience with mine. When my son was critically ill a few months ago, I had to deal alone with him for majority. As a step parent, you can't get time off to live in another city for a 2 month recovery. My son had to come first. It's a situational thing. You shouldn't always come first nor should you always come last.
Some people misunderstand what it means when it's said that the spouse comes first.

Of course when it's the welfare of a child at stake that comes first. But it's done in a way that is non-threatening to the other spouse.

As in your case, the time spent away to support your child is non-negotiable. But since spouse comes first, your husband would understand that in this case your need to be ther for your son is the most important thing at that time... so he puts you first and is supportive of you taking care of your son.

And you make sure that you do this in a manner that does not leave your husband in the cold.

Putting spouse first does not mean neglecting the needs of children.. joint children and/or step-children.
 

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What you are describing is a very normal dynamic in re married families. It takes time to build partnership, especially with remarried families with kids. It is important to attempt to put some boundaries around the marriage - make sure there is time to connect, be together apart from kids, and stay friends. During good times, continue to talk about how you can be most helpful and supportive in the parenting role. Keep the pressure off, and overtime things may shift.
David Olsen, PHD, LMFT
 

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Some people misunderstand what it means when it's said that the spouse comes first.

Of course when it's the welfare of a child at stake that comes first. But it's done in a way that is non-threatening to the other spouse.

As in your case, the time spent away to support your child is non-negotiable. But since spouse comes first, your husband would understand that in this case your need to be ther for your son is the most important thing at that time... so he puts you first and is supportive of you taking care of your son.

And you make sure that you do this in a manner that does not leave your husband in the cold.

Putting spouse first does not mean neglecting the needs of children.. joint children and/or step-children.
And that's why I answered the way I did. His wife (his words) is having legitimate issues with her kids. It's hard to share that with a step parent. Regardless how involved they are, they aren't the other parent. And no the H shouldn't be neglected, but it sounds like his wife is trying to ease his burden regardless how it's making him feel. And for sure the marriage needs to be nourished, but sometimes emergencies do arise and attention needs to be elsewhere for awhile.
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