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Question
Dear Peter,

I got married three months after meeting my husband. We have been married for six years. Unfortunately, I felt sorry for him and his situation. He had a horrible childhood and he was raising three of his children by himself. I have no biological children and four stepchildren. Three of my stepchildren are from my husband's previous marriage and live with us full time. The other child was from a previous relationship and lives with his mother. ALL FOUR OF THE CHILDREN HAVE EITHER ADHD or ODD (which most likely means the kids are carrying a genetic trait from my husband). The biological mother is not in the three kids lives that lives with us and she doesn't want them. Apparently, she spent most of her life in a foster home and has some type of mental disorder as well. The three kids living with us are on medication and they receive extensive counseling but they still misbehave most the time. The twins steal and lie all the time and the oldest girl that lives with us is very smart and manipulative. Their behavior is not consistent, which drives me even crazier. Just when I think that things are getting better, something blows up in my face. I have done so much to try and help the children and I feel so bad that I am ready to walk out of their lives. To top it all off, my husband is apparently addicted to "sexting" other women. I fault myself for the situation that I am in.  What should I do?

Respectfully,
Theresa

Answer
Theresa - Like millions of other stepparents, you and your stepkids and other adults are stressed because you each have inherited psycological wounds and unawareness from your ancestors:

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/gwc.htm

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/means.htm

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/1_traits.htm

http://sfhelp.org/cycle.htm

As unaware Grown Wounded Chi8ldren (GWCs), you mates probabhly made unwise marital choices:

http://sfhelp.org/sf/date/danger.htm

and you're struggling with concurrent stepfamily problems:

http://sfhelp.org/sf/problems.htm

If I'm right, then for all your long-term sakes, I urge you mates to study and discuss these free online "lessons"

psychological wound reduction: http://sfhelp.org/gwc/guide1.htm

effective communiucation:  http://sfhelp.org/cx/guide2.htm  and...

stepfamily management:  http://sfhelp.org/sf/guide7.htm

If you have questions about any of these, please ask!

Comopassionately, Pete  

Marriage

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Peter Gerlach, MSW

Expertise

I can answer questions about choosing a mate wisely, marital communications and problem solving, affairs, same-gender relationships, trust, respect, bonding and intimicy, values differences, boundary problems, grieving, dealing with ex mates, parents, and in-laws, remarriage, separation, divorce, abuse, feeling unloved, codependence, psychological wounds, money disputes, balancing kids, careers, and marital primacy, etc. I cannot answer legal or medical questions

Experience

I've been a professional family-systems therapist in private practice for 33 years. I have specialized in helping people avoid and adapt to divorce, and manage remarriage ans stepfamilies, since 1979. I've studied and taught classes in interpersonal communication for over 40 years, and have presented over 200 seminars on a wide range of human-relationswhip topics to Chicago-area churches, schools, menyal-health agencies, and businesses, and have been featured on Chicago and national radio and TV. I have been married and divorced. I now believe all marital and family problems are caused by five little-known factors - see http://sfhelp.org/hazatrds. This forms the basis of my work as therapist and educator.

Organizations
I now answer "AllExpert.com" questions on stepparenting, communication, and counseling. I belong to "SelfGrowth.com, "Death with Dignity," "Compassion and Choices," and to the online Adverse Childhood Experience Study (ACES) at http://acestudy.org/

Publications
I've published over 200 free Internet articles on childhood-trauma recovery and wholistic health, communication skills, healthy grieving, human relationships (including marriage and divorce), family health, effective parenting, and managing a stepfamily). These articles are in the form of seven free self-improvement lessons (http://sfhelp.org). These articles are augmented by 168 YouTube videos ("gercacn" channel); I've published a book on childhood-trauma recovery ("Who's *REALLY Running Your Life?"), and other books on interpersonal communicactioin skills ("Satisfactions"), remarriage ("The Remarriage Book"), "Stepfamily Courtship", and "Stepfamily Co-parenting" All published by Xlibris.com.

Education/Credentials
Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) from Stanford University (1959); Masters degree in Social Work (MSW) from George Williams college (1981); hundreds of hours of post-grad trainng from Northwestern U. the University of Chicago, et. al. in a wide range of human-relationship topics.

Awards and Honors
The state of Illinois licensed me to practice clinical social work in 1981. I was selected twice to serve on the board of the Stepfamily Association of America (SAA), and am currently on the Stepfamily-expert panel at Auburn University; I was the Board chairman at a major public mental-health agency in suburban chicago, and was the chairman of the Parent Relations Council for a major suburban High School. I currently have over 500 subscibers on YouTube since I began uploading educational videos in May, 2011.

Past/Present Clients
I've worked with over 1,000 men; women; dating, merried, remarried, divorcing, and redivorcing couples; and whole families. I'm currently 74, semi-retired, and disabled, and I do therapy with people and couples by phone and Internet (Skype).

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