I’ve been wounded by divorce and I still carry some of the baggage, but I was one of those people still optimistic enough to give marriage another shot.
So hoping for the best, I married my best friend five years ago. The room was filled with the laughter of friends and family and our hearts were brimming with excitement: we were going to spend the rest of our lives together. And we had quite the honeymoon period! It ended 8 days after the wedding when we got back from Mexico. The whirlwind began.
You see, it was my second marriage, but her first. I had my two young boys in tow, and within five years, two more boys were added to the clan. Life felt complicated before when I was a single dad juggling life. But now it felt insane: more people to make decisions with, more conflicts, more schedules to sort out, my wife struggling to understand her role as stepmom, old scar tissue agitating our relationship. Our marriage was being stretched and wrung dry. More was being asked of us than we knew how to handle.
Neither of us thought blending a family would be easy, but we didn’t know just how hard it could get until something between us started to die. It was a slow necrosis, very subtle at first, felt more by her than by me. Our newlywed joy began to seep through the cracks until we were no longer embracing life together; we were just trying to survive and not take our disappointment out on one another.
When my wife would vent about the hard stuff, she needed me to just listen, but instead, I took offence and lashed out: “You’re such a doomsayer. Why can’t you just look on the bright side?”
Neither of us thought blending a family would be easy, but we didn’t know just how hard it could get until something between us started to die.
I took her discontentment personally because for me it meant I was disappointing another spouse. I couldn’t give her the life she wanted. Maybe I wasn’t such a great catch for her after all; my broken past and messy life were smothering her.
I would never mention the ‘D’ word out loud, but my mind began drifting over to it: “Am I going to end up divorced again? Am I blowing this second chance at marriage?”
Starting out, we were determined to beat the grim odds and have a marriage that would last, but four years into it, the optimism was dead and we didn’t know how to fix us. The unsaid words had erected a wall of pain between us.
No matter how hard I tried to do things right the second time around, it felt like the old scars and the stress of blended family life were going to win. I was going to be a loser at marriage again.
So I decided to swallow my pride and go to counseling with my wife. Over the course of several very heart-wrenching sessions, we slowly broke down the barriers of confusion and blame so we could face the ugly pain head on, vocalize it, and start to be on the same team again.
Life hasn’t gotten any simpler, and I don’t expect it will, but we’ve been pressing through, learning to offer support for one another. We now face it together. We’re on a mission: this blended family is staying together no matter what.
Remarriage and having a blended family is a tough road, so it really helps to have someone to walk alongside you. If my story has resonated with you, I encourage you to reach out. Leave your contact info and someone on our team will connect with you to listen and offer encouragement.
Being a Stepfather: The Emotional Gauntlet
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