Marrying into a well-established family unit can be a challenging transition to undergo. What’s supposed to be the best and happiest time in your life can become a nightmare if your stepdaughter tries sabotaging your marriage.
The anxiety can put an ugly spin on your new relationship, making you feel like maybe this wasn’t the best decision or proper time. Whether you have kids or it’s your first time parenting, it’s crucial to remember it’s perfectly normal for the children involved not to share your excitement.
She didn’t ask for this, and it’s out of her control. So, ensure you come in with a proper mindset and logic when trying to understand why your stepdaughter is sabotaging your marriage.
What To Do When Your Stepdaughter Is Sabotaging Your Marriage
Consider your Expectations
Families are not perfect, and troublesome kids are a thing for many parents globally. What you think as a stepdaughter sabotaging your marriage could be them acting immaturely, contradicting your expectations of what a whole and loving stepfamily should be.
Besides, older children clash with their parents often, which doesn’t mean they have it out of them. So, your stepdaughter acting difficult towards you doesn’t mean they’re trying to sabotage your marriage. It could be they’re trying to adapt to your presence on such short notice. Entertain this possibility and consider changing your expectations instead of assuming the worst of your stepchildren.
Establish The Problem Developing
If you think your stepdaughter is sabotaging your marriage, it’s essential to identify her primary means of accomplishing that goal. Different problems need specific approaches. So, is your stepdaughter:
- Openly disrespecting you?
- Tarnishing your reputation among family or friends?
- Trying to unite her biological parents?
- Putting your partner in a position to choose between you or her?
The first two scenarios show that your stepdaughter doesn’t see you as an authority figure. At the bare minimum, she doesn’t view you as someone worthy of respect, always finding ways to undermine you.
Here, you can push them to end this behavior by putting consequences. It’s best to have your spouse set the boundaries for the first few instances. Doing so will likely make her more respectful to their warnings than yours.
You wouldn’t want to reinforce their distaste for you. However, make it clear that you aren’t to be trifled with.
Refusal To View You As Family
The last two situations paint your stepdaughter actively trying to create tensions, directly threatening your marriage. She may miss her other biological parent and see you as the reason for their absence. Such a case is challenging to deal with as it’s not easy for most people to articulate this resentment, much less to the one they resent.
The best solution here is kindness and time. Even then, you’re not guaranteed of results. Most children don’t look for opportunities to be cruel, but circumstances make them that way. But with your patience, they’ll outlast their misplaced frustration towards you.
Try To View Things From Her Perspective
Stepdaughters don’t usually try everything to be difficult, cruel, or disrespectful. They’re often motivated by fear or anxiety to protect themselves and their remaining biological parents. If they view your marriage as a threat, it’s crucial to establish and address what they find problematic about you.
They may see you as someone who can take their remaining parent or take the time they spend with them. Or, they may view you as someone trying to replace the role of the other absent parent.
Both these situations are things you’re not. And the best way to clarify them is with empathy, patience, and communication. It may take weeks or months to succeed, but enduring for the sake of your blended family is worth it.
Try To Bond With Your Stepdaughter
An easy way to bond with your stepdaughter is by embracing her passions. Show a healthy interest in what she enjoys doing, but don’t overstep.
If your stepdaughter is interested in art, question them about it. She’ll probably refuse to open up at first but eventually share the extent of her enthusiasm with you. Don’t fake things; show genuine interest in their interests, and don’t humor her hobbies. Children can tell when you are faking or humoring them.
Let Your Stepdaughter Express her Agency
Remember, your marriage and the blended family arrangement was something you and your spouse opted for. Going with their current behavior, your stepdaughter likely disagreed with the union. This alone (you getting married without your stepdaughter’s approval) will make her feel excluded and vulnerable.
She was forced to accept this new reality, one she refused and was left to lash out. Your stepdaughter is scared, anxious, and left with a lot to say but few people to listen to. It’s crucial that you, as her stepparent, help return that agency in her life.
Try to give your stepdaughter a safe place she needs to express her agency. Make her inputs feel valid and wanted by asking her to share her thoughts and include them in family discussions. Eventually, she’ll learn that you’re a safe person to communicate with and be ready to do so on more respectful terms.
Get Your Spouse’s Help
Your spouse has much stake as you do in the marriage. So, it’s critical to involve them when dealing with these issues. One thing that perpetuates unruly stepchild behavior is contradicting parenting styles, making the stepdaughter run to the less strict parent and resulting in more tension.
Ensure you dissolve these differences promptly to present a united disciplinary front with more clarified rules.
Your stepdaughter sabotaging your marriage can make it difficult to ease into a blended family. Start by understanding why your stepdaughter behaves like she does while setting firm boundaries. Most likely, she feels threatened by you, and managing the anxiety falls on you and your spouse’s shoulders. Be united and work together to make your stepdaughter feel safe about this new normal. Hopefully, she will learn to see you as a proper family member in time.