I love spontaneous conversations at unexpected places because I never know where they will lead and what material I will be inspired with for my blog. Recently I had a lovely conversation with a stepmom. The point that struck me from our talk is how we are ultimately faced with having to accept certain decisions and reconcile ourselves to the reality of those decisions. We marry, we divorce, we remarry.
Once we pass between the gates of marital extraction (divorce), we can become aware of doubts and questions. Is this what I thought would happen, why am I feeling sad, why are my family and friends treating me differently, why is my ex behaving this way and now their family is becoming hostile too. Many of us forge ahead believing that it is for “the best”, whether or not we were the ones initiating the divorce. The stakes are driven into the ground, the boundaries set.
When I listen to and read various stepfamily situations, issues, and problems…the realization that reconciling with the consequences of our divorce decision is something not many of us consciously think about, but we should. Is the single life difficult? Can be. Is the idea of remarriage, even into a stepfamily exciting and full of positive expectations? Can be. Is stepliving often a good whack in the head once entered into? Absolutely. Only then do we begin to fully realize the ramifications and consequences of divorce decisions made…good, bad, or ugly decisions.
“Picture it….” as Sophia Petrillo (Golden Girls) would begin: The marriage fails, separation, then divorce, then remarriage. What happens? Stipulations, custody, and considerations of the biological parents’ children are agreed upon by parents and mediators and judges. Then routines and daily life begins and reality sets in!
It is impossible to foresee what is ahead once a marriage with children ends. Divorce is much different than death of a spouse regarding remarriage and stepfamilies. But, no matter how we may think we can handle and/or control things…it just doesn’t ever happen that way. We begin to realize just how much IS out of our control. “But I miss them when they’re not here”, “Can’t I keep them a couple of hours longer?” “Why can’t we switch, we’re having a family reunion?” “Why didn’t you tell me they (child) had to see a doctor?”….. living every day life without our children sets in. Decisions are not always arrived upon in the best way…and we feel out of control and angry.
It is a very bitter pill to swallow when we understand that this is how it is going to be. I made some choices and decisions and not being a fortune-teller or prophet…there was no way to see that I would regret some of them. Children do not choose their parents, do not choose to be born, do not choose divorce, do not choose marriage or remarriage. I know a lot of adults feel like victims after divorce as well as in stepliving. However, whether it was our choice to pursue the divorce, or we were pulled along in a “no fault” divorce proceeding, or we fell in love and entered the world of stepliving, we have to maintain structure in our homes. We need to acknowledge our stepfamily roles and the importance of them. God, husband and wife (Marital Perch), children, everyone else. For the sake of our children and their well-being and adjustments, we turn away from ourselves (selfishness) and turn toward the children (selflessness). I need to consider their peace of mind and calm, even if it means I cannot have or see them whenever I want. Believe me, this doesn’t change when they grow up, get married, and have their own families. I still have to share with the “other household and extended families”. Many times, I choose to smile and be silent.
I think of under-age children and their new lifestyles and I simply cannot imagine life in two homes…every other day, every other week, every other weekend, every other holiday, etc. etc. Their lives are go, go, go…drive through this and that, hurry here, hurry there. One example of this stands out clearly: How many times during the week does your family sit around the dinner table with nothing else to do for the evening but eat, talk, relax, and go to bed? We adults choose a dwelling and live there. Period. Our children have to exist as we tell them…here, now there, now here, now there….
Our children live in a faster paced world than ever before. Television, movies, video games flash images over and over and over again, demanding our eyes and brains to adjust, take it all in. When I go to a movie and it is one of my husband’s action-packed choices, I just close my eyes during some scenes. I do not want those strobe-type images assaulting my mind….I do not believe it is good for us. Iron Man 3? Closed eyes frequently! I want to ask the individuals creating these images….why?
Our children/stepchildren need compassion, understanding, empathy! They need someone in their lives to be calm, responsible, consistent, safe, dependable, trustworthy, loving, understanding, willing to listen, nurturing…..and that dear ones, is where stepmoms come in. Yes, stepdads too…..but more often than not, as women, God built us for just these things. We stepmoms affect everyone around us, especially children. We reconcile to the underexposed reality of our decision after some months of stepliving, that we will be called upon to be brave, endure great things, work hard, cook, clean, taxi, and rarely a thank you. And through it all, maintain a servant attitude. Not a doormat, dog, or slave….those are other problems. I am talking about strong women who are confident within themselves that that can choose to rise above emotions, be helpmates to their husbands or partner, and live examples of a good marriage.
Sometimes, the reconciling of our decisions is reached personally, and sometimes as a spouse, we are called upon to help them reconcile with their decisions. It is an important “step” to the health and vitality of the marriage and the family.
Let me end with this thought. We cannot undo a divorce if we get remarried. That is true. However, reconciliation after divorce should never be thrown out the window. Faciliating Divorce Care, I’ve seen people attend the class, only to drop out because they and their spouse decided to try to work things out. I’ve seen couples divorce, remain single, and even after a few years pass…reconcile and remarry each other. It is not impossible. It is only rare. So when you hear of your friend or someone you know who has marital problems, please please please listen…talk to them…share with them your experience of the “after and the now”. If we can prevent further divorce, we may be able to help our children grow up to desire marriage, to desire a best-friend spouse for the rest of their lives. According to an email I received from a Stepfamily Coach seminar in Dallas, it was reported that children who grow up in a healthy stepfamily can overcome the propensity to divorce as married adults. Amen!
God bless each and every one! dori:)