had to have, thanks to him drawing the line like that, early on andevery time.”Your husband is utterly instrumental in enabling you to overcomethe usual obstacles, such as your stepchildren’s sense o divided loyalty,their resentment o you, and their anger that Dad has moved on. Withhim frmly in your corner, the two o you can even blunt the otherwiseinsuperable impact o an uncooperative and undermining biologicalmother. In the words o Sally, a retired psychotherapist and stepmothero two adults, “Dan always said, ‘We come frst. I we’re not solid, eve-ry thing alls apart.’ Yes, it was really stressul when his ex was goingcrazy and calling us at midnight, and when his kids were going nutsand shopliting and being angry at me and you name it. But I alwaysknew Dan was in my corner and what his priorities were. I’m lucky, Iknow.”Belinda and Sally know they are exceptions and say as much. In act,all too oten the ather who divorces and remarries is anything butfrmly in his wie’s camp. Conicted, he may carom rom corner tocorner, now backing up his kids in their anger at his wie, now deend-ing his choice to marry her. These conicts are largely played out in hishead and rarely communicated, but eeling torn between his wie andhis children is nearly universal among dads who re-partner ater deathor divorce.The truth is, this primary inner conict may well be the best lensthrough which to view and understand your husband. Until he re-solves this conusion, his dual role (at once your husband and theirather) may well determine his actions, drain his energy, and colorhis — and your — happiness. The men I spoke with also described eel-ing conicted about their obligations to two sets o children — eithertheir biological children rom two unions, or their biological childrenand their stepchildren. Men are especially prone to lingering, evendebilitating guilt ater their divorces. I they are stepathers themselves,they struggle with the same role ambiguity that plagues stepmoth-ers. Finally, while stepmothers oten eel misunderstood, mistreated, judged, and “set up” in their role, the men married to them oten eelparalyzed, earul, and unable to do anything right.
004539_Martin_Book_APP.indb 1022/20/2009 2:08:12 PM