Stepmoms: Walking Through the Storm and Becoming Your Best Self

*This was originally posted as a training in the Stepmom Revolution community


It’s not a coincidence that if you ask almost every stepmom you meet, she’ll admit to, at some point, “losing herself.” That’s because women have a survival instinct to sacrifice their needs and wants for those around them, in hopes of being accepted by “the tribe” and subsequently kept safe (yes, our caveman instincts are alive and well).

Needless to say, men don’t have this instinct. They have a different relationship to their needs than women. They’re VERY GOOD at honoring them.

Your Best Self

When they’ve lost themselves, I love to encourage women to remember those times when they felt their best; their most confident, most at peace, most relaxed, most kind, most loving – because those are actually the qualities that will help them the most in shifting their current experience of stress.

So when I pose a question like “What does your best self look like?” many times a stepmom will think back to a time before she met her partner, before she sacrificed everything for love, before she was faced with drama and challenges she never knew were possible.


When we think back to that time, it’s really tempting to wish and dream about being that person again. We remember how happy and carefree we were.

But here’s the thing, you can’t go back to being the same person you were before: conflict with the ex, before you were made to feel insignificant at family events, before you felt in competition with a child, before the emotional and financial stress of court, etc… before every unhealed wound, insecurity and survival instinct has been laid out on the table, glaring at you.

Stepfamily life forces you to either grow, or suffer.

It took me a few years to realize my mistake – of trying to be who I was before I met my husband, because I really liked myself, and my simple life!

But if I looked deeper, the truth was my life wasn’t nearly as rich without him in it. It wasn’t as meaningful.
I wasn’t challenged to learn how to accept someone right where they are, as they are.
I wasn’t learning how to open my heart when I felt like closing it.
I wasn’t learning how to release control when things felt so unjust.
I wasn’t helping thousands of stepmoms, changing lives and saving marriages – before I met him.

I used to say my life was so easy before I met my husband. And it was. But I’ve come to believe that life isn’t meant to be easy, it’s meant to be fulfilling. And that’s what I’ve found – as I’m walking out of the storm.

For many of you who are in the middle of the storm, it’s hard to imagine becoming a better person than you were when you walked in it. But you have to know that it’s possible.

In fact, facing challenges and learning how to overcome them is really the only way we grow.

When life is easy, we’re stagnant. We have no reason to change and become better people.

So you can choose to learn and grow, or you can choose to wilt and suffer. I don’t think you’d be here if you were choosing the latter.

Getting back to your Best Self

Since you can’t be the person you were before, look for the qualities you had, that you really loved, and start finding ways to cultivate them again.

Also pay attention to new qualities and strengths you’ve gained since becoming a stepmom.

These steps are going to be the key to you becoming a new version of your Best Self – thanks to this storm.

Guest Post by Sharilee Swaity: Personality differences in the stepfamily

Have you ever felt like screaming because your spouse just doesn’t understand you? Or experienced a sense of utter frustration at not “clicking” with your stepchildren? Although there are many dynamics which can lead to conflict, one of the most overlooked reasons for misunderstandings within any group of people is personality differences.

Nearly ten years ago, I became a stepmom to two boys, aged 12 and 14. When we got married, I entered a wholly male family, dominated by roughhousing, toilet humor and lots of video games. As a soft-spoken, book-reading introvert, I sometimes felt like a delicate flower amid a jungle and wondered how I would ever fit in. 

Do you struggle with feeling like a stranger in your own family, too? If so, consider that personality differences may play a role in some of this feeling of discomfort. These dissimilarities can impact our views on handling children and determine the atmosphere of the home. When you enter a stepfamily, the children will be used to the dad’s ways of doing things and may find it difficult to adjust to your ways. In the same way, you may also find it hard to adjust to their ways.

In this article, we will examine how people process information and how this aspect of personality can affect stepfamily relationships. In the Jungian model, this is referred to a sensing (S) preference or an intuitive (N) preference.

There are many excellent tests online you can take to determine your personality preferences. I especially recommend this one from the Personality Hacker site. For your convenience, I have included a mini-test but you may wish to confirm this with a longer test. I would encourage you to get all members of your stepfamily to take the quiz. If they are too young or simply not interested, do your best to guess what answers they would choose, based on your observation of their behavior.

Sensing and Intuition in Stepfamilies

Answer this question for a quick assessment.

Which of these pair of statements are truest of you?

1.a. I notice connections more than most people
1.b. I notice more details than most people

2.a. I could be accused of being impractical
2.b. I could be accused of being too unimaginative

3.a. I am less observant than most people
3.b. I tend to be very observant

If you answered more a’s than b’s, you likely have an intuitive preference. According to the Personality Page, this means that you will listen to your intuition, your gut instinct first. This does not mean you don’t pay attention to your senses but you notice your intuition first.

If you answered more b’s than a’s, you likely have a sensing preference.  This means that you tend to rely on what you can, see, taste, and hear over any inner feeling or intuition.  It doesn’t mean you are not capable of abstract thought but rather that you prefer to learn through your five senses first.

The sensor and the intuitive see the world in very different ways and this can make it very difficult to understand one another.

The intuitive person has the tendency to constantly strive to improve the world, rather than simply enjoy what is. They thrive on possibility and seeing connections between things that are not apparent to everyone. They also tend to be less observant and may find it more difficult to always keep up with every day tasks.

According to the site, Personality Hacker, only 30% of the population tend to have the intuitive trait. Therefore, an intuitive person is more likely to be the odd one out in a family. A good catchphrase for an intuitive person would be “Everything’s connected!”

Sensors may feel offended by the ideas of an intuitive trying to improve things and take their constantly changing ideas as a sign that their life is “not good enough.” A sensing person tends to be more attentive to the details of what needs to be done immediately around them. They have excellent observation skills and are more likely to stick to straight logic. “Just the facts, ma’am” is a good catchphrase for the sensor. Because sensors make up the majority of the population, the sensor may find that the world is tailored more to his or her preferences.

Examine Your Own Family

Examine the dynamics of your family. Are you a group of sensors with a lone intuitive? Or a group of intuitives with one lone sensor? Or perhaps you are an even mixture of both. Whatever the combination, try to be aware of differing preferences when dealing with each family member. Before you judge their motives, ask if this conflict may be related to personality differences. This won’t automatically solve the problem but it may help you handle things in a more effective manner.

My husband is a sensor and I am an intuitive. When we first got married, I worked as a teacher and by Saturday, after a busy week of schedules and taking care of the endless needs of my students, I was really craving time where I could escape into my imagination and simply create. This took the form of working on online collages on a site called Polyvore, and eventually writing.

These abstract pursuits brought me immense joy but my practical husband saw no immediate benefit. All he saw was his wife tied to a computer screen in the middle of a messy house. All I saw the beautiful collages in front of me, created by my imagination. I felt unable to tackle the messy house until I had some “me time” to use my creative energy.

If you tend to be the more practical partner, you may get frustrated when things are not being done according to certain standards. You may feel impatient with your spouse for not insisting that the children help out more. Consider that they simply may not see the practical things to be done, as easily as you do. If you tend to be the more intuitive partner, you feel misunderstood within your family. It may frustrate you that you cannot communicate your abstract ideas with your more concrete partner.

An intuitive child may feel misunderstood when a parent does not seem to take an interest in his seemingly esoteric interests. Conversely, an sensing child parent may feel frustrated if an intuitive parent’s communication is too abstract and find it confusing.

Tips for Sensing and Intuitive Children

Ways to Respect an Intuitive Child

  1. When teaching an intuitive child tasks such as cleaning their room, be patient and be sure to tell them why it is important, rather than saying, “just do it.” When they understand why, they will have greater motivation.
  2. Look for interests for the child which allow them to be creative and to follow their muse. Look for anything that allows them to be creative and envision possibilities. Whether it’s playing make-believe, drawing or reading their favourite books, look for ways that they can nurture their imagination.
  3. An excellent way to bond with your intuitive stepchild is to be willing to “play along” when they go down what may seem like “conversational rabbit trails” to you. If the child speaks in a fanciful way, don’t shut them down by telling them not to be “silly.”

Ways to Respect a Sensing Child

  1. Communicate with this child using concrete, direct language. They will respond much better if you say exactly what you want from them. Avoid being vague because it may be confusing. Don’t force the child to talk about theoretical things that bore him or her.
  2. Look for interests for the child which allow them to be hands-on. They may have strong spatial-visual skills. Think of sports, building activities, making things.
  3. An excellent way to bond with your sensing, concrete stepchild is to do things with them. Don’t worry about talking too much. For these children, action speaks louder than words!

Your Differences are Your Strength

Finally, remember that although differences can lead to conflict, they can eventually become your greatest strength as a couple and as a family. A differing personality type brings a new perspective and different strength to a family unit. When the two learn to work together, they can accomplish a lot.

An example is renovating a home. When your home is looking old and rundown, you will need to get work done on it. Before you hire a contractor, though, you will want to have a vision of what you want it to look like. This is where intuition comes in – seeing the possibility. After you get a vision for the completed project, you will need someone to come in and start tearing down walls, pounding nails and sanding wood. That is where the sensing comes in. Both types are necessary for surviving in this world.


Sharilee Swaity has been a stepmom for nine years now. Her two stepsons are both grown up now and she spends her time writing and promoting her work. Her book, “Second Marriage: An Insider’s Guide to Hope, Healing & Love” was published in April 2017, and is on sale this week on Amazon for $0.99. Her book focuses on challenges people find in second marriages, including personality differences. Sharilee also writes at her blog, Second Chance Love.

The stress of (step) family vacations

Family vacations are supposed to be a time for family fun, bonding and making memories. But they can be a very stressful experience for stepmoms.

For parents, it’s a chance to take their kids somewhere fun and to get some quality time with them. But for stepparents… it can often mean staying in close quarters, for long periods of time, with the feeling of “outsider” magnified.

It can also bring with it disappointment if you expected to get some one on one time with your partner, and it just doesn’t happen.

Stepmoms often think they don’t have options when it comes to family vacations. They think they have to go along with what the rest of the family wants to do, without ever speaking up about what they’d like to do or taking time for themselves. Not so!

Here are some tips to help you enjoy that family vacation a little more.

  1. Schedule in some YOU time. That’s right, make sure to plan ahead for time to get a spa treatment, spend a few exploring hours on your own, basically anything to give yourself from a break from the long hours with the family.
  2. Schedule some time for you and your partner. Again, plan ahead to make sure this doesn’t get missed. Don’t leave it up to chance. Call ahead and make plans for someone else to watch the kids (very feasible depending on where you’re staying), or if you’re not staying somewhere with built-in child care, brainstorm with your partner ways to make sure you get some connection time. If he knows your expectations ahead of time, he’ll be much more likely to make an effort to make it happen.
  3. Plan an adult vacation at a separate time. It’s sad to say, but most of the stepparents who go on family vacations don’t actually feel like they’ve taken one. The family vacation is often very kid-focused, which is fine in a nuclear family where parents are glad to sacrifice everything for their child and love having their time focused on the child, not so much for a stepfamily. So maybe you need to look ahead and plan for the whole year, but defintiely make sure you build in a vacation for just you or just you and your partner.
  4. Stay home. Seriously, most kids love having alone time with their parents, so opt out of a family vacation every now and then. Sure, your partner may be disappointed, but that’s OK. He’ll feel better when he returns home to a brand new, super happy and loving partner who took some time to herself to recharge. 

When you’re relaxed on your vacation, everyone else is relaxed too!

© 2017 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

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Two Relationship Strategies and a New Group for Stepmoms

So I did my first Facebook Live video and of course after about 15 seconds I got a notice that my wi-fi connection was weak and it disconnected me! Anyways, here’s the continuation.

My purpose of doing this video was to start the new off on a positive note by giving you 2 strategies to help strengthen your relationship, because when that’s good, everything is more manageable!

Then I quickly talk about a new group I’m creating for stepmoms that I’m hoping to launch in about 1 week. It’s a positive, confidential place for support, but also where you’re going to get all of my strategies, techniques and tools to get you through every stepmom situation – without the fee of a coaching session. I’ll be in the group with you, supporting you through your entire stepmom journey. The cost will be very affordable, so hopefully price won’t be a limiting factor for you. 🙂 I can’t wait to launch it and feel free to email me if you’d like to be notified when it’s up and running.