Sometimes the most painful, agonizing experiences of our lives happen to us. Not that we asked for them, or even caused them, but a new, unwanted life is dropped on us like a ton of bricks.
That happened to me when my first husband died unexpectedly. I was twenty-three years old with two baby boys. It was five long years before life began to feel good again.
I wanted to remarry, but remained a single mom for a total of thirteen years before a mutual friend introduced Jim and me. He lost his wife after a prolonged illness. He had two teenage daughters and an eight-year-old son.
We fell in love…and I dreamed big! LOVE AGAIN! A man to share my bed! Daughters! I’d always wanted five children! He had such a wonderful sense of humor. He was fun to be with! He was affectionate and called me his “sweet baby!” We were adults. We’d been through a lot. We were mature. We would work out anything that might arise in our precious new family.
Like many couples married after great loss from death or divorce, we had absolutely no understanding of the unique dynamics of a stepfamily. We made the classic assumption that we would form a new family that would look, act and function like a first family. NOT!
A conflict over parenting differences soon arose. For the first year or so, we’d talk it out, agree on a solution, then kiss and make up. But solutions fell apart. The conflict reignited…over and over again. The more frustrated we got, the worse our methods of communication became. I adopted sarcastic put downs. (After all, I’m good with words!) He verbally attacked with accusations…or walked out the door hoping I’d calm down by the time he returned. (It didn’t work!)
We desperately wanted the loving, sweet relationship of our dreams, but were on the verge of separating. We went to therapists. (They didn’t know what to do with us.) We saw pastor friends. (They were kind, but had nothing except platitudes like “never go to bed angry.” (I wanted to scream, “How do we do that when I’m so angry I wish he would die in his sleep!”)
We finally found a coach who began to teach us functional anger management skills. We learned how to speak without attacking, and tried to really understand each other’s point of view.
The fighting stopped. A few months later we agreed on a solution to our conflict that saved our marriage. Within a short time we had the loving, peaceful marriage we’d dreamed of in the beginning.
The dream wasn’t idealistic or unreal. It wasn’t a fairytale that many today believe marriage to be. The dream kept us going through the hard work of growing into the reality of a loving marriage that both of us wanted until death parted us.
Is this story familiar to you? Would you like a coach who can teach you great skills and help you implement those skills until you can live the dream? Click on this link to set up a phone appointment with me at your convenience. You can do this! We did! https://meetme.com/SpeakWithNancy
P.S. Download the complete Landrum Stepfamily Story here: Click Here.