To Boyfriend


I need to tell you this and let me say beforehand I’m so sorry for the things I put you through, our fights, my gripes, my complaints, my insecurities and jealous behavior- all of it.   The timing of when our relationship began has so much to do with it- I believe – but you don’t deserve to put up with it.  I know it’s exhausting for you, I know it makes you doubt our relationship and causes you to be unhappy, and I don’t want that for you.

Last night I couldn’t sleep, the night before I couldn’t sleep – this happens all the time on an on again/off again basis.  Last night was harder than most, I actually started crying in bed while you were asleep because the thoughts won’t go away.  It’s not just at night- it’s every day and a good percentage of the day at that.  Actually, when I don’t have these thoughts, it somewhat surprises me because they are so ever present in my life.  The thoughts consume me, many days and nights they overtake every bit of space I have in my brain, and I can’t think of anything else.  Last night I cried because I don’t understand why, and I cried because of how much I hate it and how pathetic it is to let someone else, someone’s past overtake me.  All I want to do is be happy, and think about our life together and how to enjoy and improve upon this, but I can’t.

I have heard from others that this is normal, and you can get past it.  Once we get married, once we have our own children the things that bother me so much about your past, will not bother me anymore.  Sometimes I think it’s me not having enough self confidence, me not being a strong enough person to look past this.  I feel helpless and trapped.  I have 7 stepmother books, I have spent more hours than I would like to admit scouring the internet looking for a solution from other women who have been in my shoes, I’ve read countless articles, befriended women that I don’t even know hoping that one of them might have the magic answer.  At night when I can’t sleep I even started praying – begging God to give me peace and take these thoughts away- but so far, God hasn’t granted my prayer.

I love you, there is no question of this, but not a day goes by that I don’t wish things were different.  Many times I feel like I’m forcing myself to accept something that I just can’t accept.  I try to figure out exactly what I am so upset by, but there is no way to pinpoint one item besides making a general statement of- your past.

Are things really that bad for me given the circumstances?  No.  I have found during my extensive research that so many women have it so much worse than me.  If this is so, then why am I having so many problems?  Why can’t I be happy?

So, what’s the answer?  Leave the person I love and the two little boys I have worked so hard to build a relationship with?  Leave the boys to wonder what happened to me and wonder why I’m not there teaching them to tie their shoes, make them breakfast, and give them hugs and kisses at night?  No, I’m not ready to do this so I will continue to my search to find a solution.

I’m not ready to give you this letter, and I may never give this to you but wish you could understand, even a little, the depth of my pain.  Thank you for trying, thank you for changing so much about yourself to accommodate my needs and desires, thank you for letting me be in your children’s life.

I love you

~ by Stepfamily Letter Project on December 18, 2011.

13 Responses to “To Boyfriend”

  1. Beautifully written ~ I had the identical experience plus a mountain of dysfunction with severely disturbed people creating chaos at every turn.

    The bottom line:

    Is your boyfriend a man capable of being a real partner to you?

    Does he understand child development and take his role as father seriously enough to be an adult and make mature, consistent decisions in raising good people regardless of any personal issues?

    Are you sure your man can and will cherish your union and stand up for you against mama, ex, and anyone/anything else?

    Will you both communicate about values, concerns,
    the future, money, personal thoughts and dreams openly and honestly and FAIRLY ?

    It’s allll normal, what you feel and wonder. But if you can’t answer those questions positively, you are only in for much more confusion and heartache.

    Good luck. It is true that 90% of stepmoms would not do it again, but maybe you will be in the lucky 10%.

    Only you know if this man is worth the challenges and sacrifices that are difficult in even a mentally healthy family.

  2. I am very thankful that you posted this. I have been struggling with the same issues. Much like Rebecca said in her post… I ask myself the tough questions and make a strong effort to be totally honest with my boyfriend and myself! I am blessed to say that there isn’t one day that has gone by (even on the toughest of days) that I doubt that it’s all worth it. I sometimes feel so guilty and weak for letting all of my doubts and insecurities creep in. Knowing that Im not alone seems to have helped. I recently started blogging in an attempt to find an outlet for my thoughts… and maybe even some answers here and there! Feel free to check it out … after all if you are anything like me it’s not like all your friends can just relate to your “situation”! Thanks again for posting.

  3. Honey, I have felt your pain and after 6 years of marriage have decided to leave, for more reasons than I can count. I understand the love for your man and the hate for the situation (his past). As Rebecca says above, 90% wouldn’t do it over. I don’t know where this static comes from but I personally know NONE who would do it over! Not a single one! And I know that as I move on into my future, I will never again date a man with kids (of any age). Period! I would rather be single for eternity!
    I’m not sure self confidence has anything to do with how you are feeling. Step-motherhood takes it’s toll on even the most confident people. What I will say is that it will take more confidence and guts to leave before it is too late than it will to stay and struggle to find your answer.
    If you were someone I loved dearly I would BEG you not to stay in this relationship. Don’t settle for this life! It is not fun, it will never feel like a real family and marriage is hard enough without all of these factors.
    If you do decide to stay in this relationship and work through this struggle in your head, I wish you the best. It never got better for me, even after all of the events that you list had taken place. Plus you add many more complexities to it as you get deeper in and issues you never thought about come up, all while your original issue (his past) never goes away. I have wasted over 8 years of my life in this hell and I cant get that time back. 8 years, even 8 months is to much time to be without inner peace and a content heart.
    If “Stepmonster” by Wednesday Martin is not one of the books you have already read then I highly recommend you do. It is the most realistic and truthful book out there on the subject and it did more for me than many therapy sessions.
    Do keep up posted! Good luck either way.

  4. I really have no advice but your letter brought a tear to my eye. And not because I understand what you are going through but just because I can’t imagine being in your position. Big hugs to you – I hope you find peace and that you find happiness. I love therapy. Have you tried seeking the help of a counselor? I found that in my many struggles of being an ex-wife, a mom of a stepchild/child of divorce, a new wife and a new mom that the best solution resides inside of me and actually talking to someone helped me find that in many ways. You won’t be happy every single day of your life. You are still going to have struggles but for the most part, finding a way to put the past away and loving the present and hoping for the future becomes easier with time. This man has chosen you. At one time in his life, his life was different and didnt include you. You can’t hold that against him. You have to find that point of happiness that his past led him to you and allowed him the ability to be with you now. I hope you do find that place. He is lucky to have someone that cares so much to try to find a solution and you are equally lucky to have someone with such patience. Women are much more complicated individuals and we pay way more attention to detail, feelings, pasts, love, and so much more. Talking with him and being open with your feelings about this may help him to help you. Good luck!

  5. I, too, felt this same way before and after marrying my husband. These thoughts never go away and like a previous commenter said, most stepmothers would NOT choose this life again, if given the choice. If nothing else, please please stand back and look at this from all angles. Not just from the heart. You mentioned that having your own children once married will make it better. Do not assume that. Your SS’s may resent this new baby not to mention what their mother might say about it. I’m only speaking from my own personal experience. I have a SS that will not even say Hello to me. I love my husband more than anything, but like the old saying goes, “sometimes love just isn’t enough”. I hope everything works out for you in the end.

  6. Is there anyone out there reading this letter that feels her partner is worth all of it? Is there anyone that has said, I love my partner too much to leave, has stayed in the relationship and can actually say- I don’t regret it, overall my love for this person has outweighed anything I have had to endure as a step-parent and I have lead a happy life? It has been almost two years for me and the reason I am writing this letter is because I cannot say that overall my happiness has outweighed my sadness. This is horrible to admit, but simply put, being in this role has brought out the worst in me. Thoughts, feelings and behaviors I never thought could exist within me, now exist. I guess I am still holding out hope that with time, I will be able to accept the things I cannot change.

    From the moment I entered this role, I have put my entire heart and soul into making this work- with everyone. My partner, his children, family, friends, and ex-wife. Each group has at times made me feel the most uncomfortable, left out, less than a person feelings in my life.

    Thanks to all who responded, it’s so nice to know I am not alone or crazy. I have considered starting counceling and I have read Stepmonster (it is one of my 7 books) I agree that above all other step-parenting books it is the most honest and helpful in vaidating your feelings. It seems like the other books always try to put a pretty little bow on the topic but Stepmonster is much more raw and factual.

    Thanks again- Happy Holidays!

    • I have felt this way, and over time things have gotten much better for me. What really helped me was having some counseling and talking to my DH constantly. I would say absolutely he is worth all of the bad feelings I have had. And yes, I too have feel that step-hood has brought out the worst in me, character flaws I didn’t even know I had. My worst insecurities and jealousy have come out with my own pregnancy, there are times that the thought that he’s “been there done that” twice already and the wonder and joys of creating and birthing a baby are nothing new to him, and in fact he did that already twice with someone we both DESPISE, just breaks my heart. My jealousy over that has been much, much worse than over any other part of his past. I bring that up to caution you that having your own child doesn’t always just make the pain disappear, in fact in some ways having my own baby with him has magnified the pain, because it’s not his first time like it is mine. It’s been a black cloud over my entire pregnancy that I still (3 weeks away from the end) am not quite over.

      My DH has been really, really good about understanding and easing my insecurities. I’m so glad I can talk to him about it, because more than counseling or books or anything else hearing that he loves me way more than he ever did his ex and would do things totally different in retrospect, and how much he wants this child and is so happy to experience this with me, goes a long way to helping. I hope you can find the words and the confidence to share your letter with your BF. The tricky part is finding a balance between needing to be reassured every now and then, and being “needy” to hear it all the time.

      One other thing that has helped me enormously, not so much with jealousy/insecurity but as a stepmom in general, is that much-dreaded word “disengaging”. I too used to try to be Super Stepmom, the first couple of years I did everything in my power to be all things to all people and to be perfectly perfect in my new role. To say it was exhausting (and impossible to boot) is an understatement. As soon as I found the courage to simply let go of things being perfect, of worrying about what people think of me as a stepmom (in particular BM), as soon as I “disengaged”, I found myself in a much better place. Putting your entire heart and soul into this is all well and good but it’s not a successful long-term strategy. You need some heart and soul for yourself, too, or you are no good to anyone least of all yourself. Stepping back was the best thing I could have done not only for my own sanity but also for my relationships with my DH and my SK’s.

      I am not one of those stepmoms who “wouldn’t do it again”. I am a person who would absolutely caution anyone thinking about dating a guy with kids to RUN FAR AWAY!! 🙂 Or at least to give it all a LOT of thought before jumping in. But for myself, I would absolutely choose him/them all over again. My DH is an amazing person and I truly believe we were created for each other, our partnership is melded together in every way possible and I can’t imagine there is a man out there who would be a better fit for me personally. There are things I would do differently of course, but ultimately I have no major regrets.

      Good luck, sweetie! You are not alone.

  7. All of the Stepmom responses here share a similar sentiment. I do wish for you to be happy and confident in your life and choices.
    You mentioned your insecurities and jealousy and also acknowledge that your situation is not as bad as others you have read about. Is his past difficult f

  8. Sorry! If you are feeling jealous and insecure now, because of his past, and without any interference from others, I fear that you may be in for a huge shock down the road. I think most SM’s find themselves in that situation at some point, and most of us had some forewarning. Please trust your gut, even if it is telling you something you don’t want to hear. Having a child will not “fix” anything, nor will it solidify your marriage. Most family therapists recommend waiting a minimum of 1-2 years before bringing a baby into a blended family. And as harsh as it may sound, having a baby to “fix” a problem or pacify your insecurities seems like a huge red flag. Whatever you decide, I wish you the best. Please know that I (and probably every other SM here) wish someone had clued me in before I made that leap. Of course, no one can prepare you for the reality of it – all of us had to learn frOm experience. Good luck!

  9. To Author,
    To answer your question, it is worth it to me.
    Going into this marriage, I believed that my desire to be with my husband outweighed my concerns about his baggage.
    The time when we were dating was absolutely the honeymoon period in our relationship, and there was plenty of outside interference. I am already a mom, I honestly doubt that I could have weathered all of the baggage had I not been. I love my husband as a partner madly, but the kind of father he is was a huge part of what drew me to him in the first place.
    Whatever my expectatione were, I wish they had been much lower. Our marriage has at times brought out the worst in everyone. Someone that has proven to be selfish, insecure, and highly manipulative will forever have an influence in the lives of the people I love most. The children in our situation are a dream, we are very fortunate in that regard. I have accepted that I will sometimes feel like an outsider in my own home/life/family for the rest of my life. We haven’t added more children to the equation, although we plan to do so.
    For us, it is worth it. I hope it turns out to be in your case.

  10. Author,
    I get the sense that you wrote this looking for someone to tell you it was all going to be ok and you are disappointed to hear otherwise. That sucks, I get it. But as the saying goes…The naked truth is better than a best dressed lie.
    We are all just telling you what most of us weren’t told and I personally feel it is my duty to warn you of what lies ahead if you continue this relationship. I do hope that if you stay you will be one of the few how don’t regret it, but the words in your letter scream future regret.
    You have clear enough eyes to see that this has consumed you in a negative way, as I think I am safe to say, it has all of the rest of us at some point. You want to know if it will get better and I can only tell you that for me it did not, and as the commenter above noted, having your own child can actually increase the pain. I concur. Having your husbands 3rd child while it is your 1st is a bittersweet experience.
    So, it’s your future and only you can make this choice for you. If you are willing to settle for this life and live with this constant ‘yuck’ if your head, and life, and marriage and future, then by all means…stay. If you know you cannot come to terms with this and want to experience a relationship that isn’t consumed with grief and wishes for different circumstances, then it is time to cut your losses and move into your future with higher standards and a crystal clear understanding of what you want and don’t want in a relationship. It’s a tough choice, but it a is a choice that will effect every aspect of your future, your health, your sanity and your legacy. If you ask me, the short term devastation of a break up sure beats the long term hell of the stepmom life.
    Good luck and God Bless!

  11. Oh, sweetie, as you can see from the responses here (and my feelings are quite similar to many), you are so far from alone. I wanted you to know this hurt my heart to read- becuase I’ve been there. And because you obviously have so much love in your heart and so much pain as well…it’s not an easy role. I agree with another response that you absolutely NEED to know that you & your partner are on the same page, and that even when you can’t be, that he’ll put *you* / your relationship first. If that means showing him this letter than maybe that’s the place to start….I would, personally. He needs to understand the depth of your pain before he can try to truly help.

    I can’t promise that it will get better instantly…and every situation is different, but it’s up to you and your partner to put things in motion to make it better for you. I know with my husband, he deals with issues from his past quite often as well, and wishes that somehow it could be different- but the trick is to not let the crappy past define a present or a future. I had so many issues and insecurities and pain in the beginning, and I can’t say that it’s gone away completely, but I’m so glad that I stayed and worked through it and have the love of my life, and his gorgeous son, in my life. It all depends on where you want to be going and what you think you can handle. What do you think will come from all this? I wouldn’t keep it inside or away from your partner. I hope you find some peace in whatever you choose.

  12. My apologies, I didn’t read through the responses before answering so let me just add on a bit to answer your questions- I *DO* feel that it has absolutely been worth it. 100% without a question. I honestly feel, as my husband does, that we are each other’s other half. And as much as I’ve hated and raged and felt insecure about his past, I do firmly believe that things happen for a reason- and his wonderful son is not a mistake. Both him and his ex say that their relationship overall was a wreck and a huge mistake, but their son came from it and so it was not all bad.

    I’m not say that it hasn’t been hard, I’m not happy everyday of my life (not that I would be otherwise, anyway) and I still struggle with things that only stepmothers have to struggle with; but the happiness of having my husband and stepson in my life far outweighs the bad. I had to accept at some point that the choice to stay in the position your letter describes or move on and be happy with life was all up to me- and had a lot to do with my happiness with myself. I too gave far too much of myself to everyone else, in a losing battle trying to come off as the ‘perfect’ person for my role. All I really had to do was own it, though, without looking to anyone else’s opinion of my ‘success’ there. I’m sure I’m not the perfect stepmom, but then again, some people would have a problem with me even if I could be- what’s important is that I love my husband and stepson and am happy with where we’re at as a family.

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