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S. James Wheeler: The Stepdad Dynamic

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S. James Wheeler is the founder of Stepdadding.com, the information and inspiration site for stepdads. He is a family dynamics researcher who says he was inspired to find “…the solution to the blended family challenge” after years of struggling to make his own marriage work. Wheeler became a father of three the day he married his wife. The marriage went through several rough years as he and his wife adjusted to the challenging dynamics you get when you blend two families. After countless arguments and marriage counselors who couldn’t seem to identify their root problem Wheeler took on the challenge of figuring out what was at the core of their relationship issues. “I don’t like to quit.” He says “I needed to make it work because I knew we were a good couple--so I kind of disconnected for a while and just researched everything I could find.” He spent more than two years reading everything he could find on the subject of step-parenting and blended families. What he found astonished him. “I was struggling to find the answer and it was in front of me the whole time—just like it is for most blended families and stepdads.”

He realized that there are specific dynamics at work in every blended family situation -and each stepdad is at a disadvantage from the day he starts. “Trying to fix the situation without understanding it was like throwing darts blindfolded.” says Wheeler. “When I finally got it, the blindfold came off and my aim improved immediately.” Understanding what the issue was in his relationship he was able to change the situation and save his marriage. Ultimately Wheeler realized that this dynamic was affecting many more families –not just his. If stepdads could understand what was causing their family challenges then they could save their marriages too.

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