"It's February! What do you mean jumpstart my New Year" you say?
Chinese New Year that is! It's Sunday, February 10. 2013 is the Year of the Black Snake. Snake represents change, specifically improvement to positive relationships and good fortune, in Chinese culture. This is exactly what most step families want and need. So, if you're one of the many people who have already fell off your New Year's resolutions, let this inspire you to get back on the wagon and try again.
Over sixty-six percent of step couples experience enough conflict to leave their step family. Most do it withing 3-5 years. If you are one of them, it's likely you made a New Year's resolution to stop the fighting, arguing, and dissonance once and for all. This article is intended to not only inspire you to get back on track with those resolutions, but to also give you hope and help to achieve your goal.
Any change in your outer environment starts with your inner environment. What I mean is that nothing will change if you continue to do the same things. As the saying goes, 'If you continue to do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.' Unfortunately, this is easier said than done since you're likely reacting to the many conflicts going on around you. In step families, rarely is only 1 person to blame, even if it seems like 1 person is causing all the problems. Every person should commit to working at improvement. But if your partner doesn't agree, don't let that discourage you. Commit yourself by modeling the relationship you want to have, starting with my suggestions below. Stick with it for the duration of 2013 and you may be surprised that you won't need to make the same resolution next year.
Just like any New Year's resolution, you want to think deeper than just the good (fun) part of what it would be like once you've accomplished your goal. Look back over the last year or two when asking yourself the following questions:
- Has it always been like this, or has it progressed to this over time?
- What have I done to contribute to this problem?
- What have I done to try to improve it?
- What else can I do?
- Am I willing to do that?
- Am I willing to do whatever it takes to transform my relationship? How far will I go?
- How much does it mean to me to be a happier step family?
- What would it look and feel like?
Answering these questions will lay the foundation for your action plan, which is essential for any New Year's resolution to work. I have essentially asked you to look at the bigger picture of your step family, and specifically your role in the family. Look at what you did right and wrong, as well as what you plan to do about it. Once you do this, you are far ahead of everybody else in your situation, which increases the likelihood of turning your vision of a happy step family into a reality.Whittle down the steps and think deeply about where you're at, where you're going, and how you're going to get there.
The mistake that most step parents and other step family members make is not looking closely enough at your own errors and contributions. Actions with good intentions often get undesirable results. It's important to look past your intentions and recognize how your actions are interpreted by your partner and step kids. I can't stress that enough. Watch and listen to their reactions. Let this guide you in writing an action plan.
Ask your partner for feedback when the timing is right. Only do this if or when you're in a relaxed stated of mind and you're both in an open-minded receptive mood. If tension is constant, be cautious when starting a conversation. Mood is a bigger predictor than your choice of words to determine whether you'll argue or not.
These steps in this article are only the first steps to long-term transformation of your step family home environment. Check back often to learn more things you can do differently to get better results. True change - transformation - takes time and effort, but it's worth it. This year, take comfort that the Year of the Black Snake will support you in your efforts.