Category Archives: Marriage

Faith through the tough times

At church this past weekend, our pastor talked about crisis. How we get through it, how God works change within us, and our reactions to it. He quoted several verses about Jacob from Genesis.

One of the things he mentioned was that we each need to admit that we are the “problem.” Reality check? Yes, something like that. The talk was interspersed with scenes from the movie Fireproof. Dreadful acting aside, it’s a movie with a message worth noticing. Which reminded me, I have The Love Dare as an ebook from the library on my phone. And I hadn’t looked at it.

Hmm … Day 1 — say nothing negative to your spouse. I tried it. I almost made it through the whole day. I am trying again today. Our toddler woke up crying with a leaky diaper. While I was changing her on our bed my husband made grouchy, sarcastic remarks. I hissed, “Callate!” at him. Whoops! Let’s just put that one behind us and continue on …

I know that making God the central focus of my life makes my life better. Always. It is during the tough times when I get too introspective, too discouraged, and overly cynical that I struggle to stay close to Him. I don’t make time to read the Bible. I don’t focus on prayer. I get very caught up in the drama that is my life.

At this time I have an ex who is contentious and argumentative. My oldest stepdaughter isn’t talking to me because of something my younger stepdaughter told her. I have no idea what it is, but she unfriended me on facebook because of it. Trust me, this is a BIG deal. Before the end of her visit my younger stepdaughter got angry with me and told me that I am “just a stepmom!” Ouch. I sure cried over that one.

My husband is disappointed and angry with both of his older daughters. He carries a grudge against my older daughter. Blended family drama stinks! I honestly think we need to be in ongoing therapy with our children in order to navigate this life peacefully. (sigh)

These ARE tough times. I need to be more active in my pursuit of God. I need to replenish my faith, fill my glass. I don’t want to just muddle through life, I want to live it beautifully and joyfully.

 

Who’s with me?


Adult Children of Remarried Parents

It occurred to me this morning that I have been a member of a blended family for nearly than 16 years. I am dense, I know.

My father remarried in 1995, exactly one week before my first wedding. Sadly, I have never met my three bonus siblings. It wasn’t until we all connected on FaceBook that I had any regular communication with them. Proximity is the issue — and money for travel. He was married out of state and wound up relocating to the state in which they were married. I have only seen my father once in the past 10 years for this very reason. Travel is too costly.

I have heard of adult children having issues when their parents remarry, but this wasn’t the case for me. I was happy that my dad had found a new partner. I was sad when they moved away, but as adults that is their choice.

The thought that I am pondering now is how adult children of blended families can try to hold their parents hostage. I saw my ex do this when his father remarried. Not only did he badmouth his future stepmom, but he also felt very put-out that his dad would have a teenage stepdaughter — as if she was usurping his place with his father. It boggled my mind. How selfish can one get? Parents have the right to find love, security, and companionship.

Can it be that even adult children of divorce still hold out hope for their parents’ reconciliation?

Maybe it boils down to insecurity… jealousy… competitiveness. My ex certainly has those qualities — in abundance. Or perhaps it is the belief that the parent is choosing the wrong person. How is it though, that children will presume that they know better than their parents? That is simply presumptuous and arrogant.

I didn’t make those judgments when my dad remarried. I am genuinely happy for him.


Second marriage, second chance

I stand in awe of my husband. Sometimes I stand in frustration. At all times I stand in love.

My husband is an immigrant to the U.S. He is bilingual. He is biliteral. He is bicultural. He has overcome more difficulties than I can imagine. He truly comes from a world that is foreign to me.

Most of the time he seems just like me. White, middle class, educated …   and then I see him interact with people from his home country, in their native language, and I am struck by the fact that he lives a dual life of sorts — and that with it he possesses a skill far beyond my understanding. He’s had experiences that I cannot fathom.

Sometimes that duality feels like a wall between us. Other times, I think that maybe I will never run out of things to learn about him.

Embarking  on a second marriage is a huge risk. It is scary. Throw six kids into the mix and it is downright terrifying. There is so much at stake in creating a blended family. For those of us who have always dreamed of having a large loving family, but watched that dream die on our first attempt, it is a risk we have to take. I, for one, cannot let that dream slip away without giving my best effort to creating a successful marriage.

~*~~

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”   Ephesians 4:2 New International Version

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 New International Version

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18 New International Version


Challenge #2 Differing gender role expectations

I have been avoiding this topic for awhile. Even though it is one of the first things I thought of when pondering intercultural challenges in marriage, I really have not wanted to tackle it. Why? This issue is at the heart of all the conflicts or arguments in my relationship with my husband. It is intensely personal. I am taking the plunge now because I believe it is important to share, for those who are interested in such things.

Gender role expectations …  my background taught me that men and women should share the burden of household chores in some equitable manner. As an adult I have been a slacker with regard to household chores, in part because my ex was as well. I am a clutter-bug. I am not all that conscious of things — if something is out of place, I don’t notice it. I also don’t believe that it is my job to pick up after everyone in my household. This is regardless of whether or not I work outside the home.

My husband would beg to differ. He firmly believes that women need to cook, clean, serve, care for the children, and work. To him, a man’s responsibility is to earn money at a job (or two) and relax at home. He gets very bent out of shape if food is not served to him. He believes that moms who don’t work outside of the house should have immaculate homes because all they have to do take care of kids, clean and cook. Apparently, in his cultural background, the women do all of these things. They clean constantly, cook every meal of the day and give the children all of the attention they require.

But something must be falling through the cracks. I just don’t believe that it is possible to do all of those things to his high standards. My cultural background says that it just is not possible! Not only that, but I don’t believe that it is right.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like a clean and orderly home. Parts of my home can be that way, for a brief period of time. But I choose to pursue other interests and to spend a lot of time with my children. For instance, our infant daughter will not sleep by herself. That means that when she naps — as she is now — she does so on my lap. She is still primarily breastfed, which means that whenever she eats I sit with her to feed her. No handing her a bottle and getting busy with housework for me!

My attachment parenting style does get in the way of meeting the gender role expectations of my husband. We talk about it nearly every day. Sometimes he seems to accept  that caring for our baby really does take up most of my day. Other times he insists that the computer is the problem. Well, we were without internet at home for two days. The only additional thing I did was vacuuming. I did that while wearing our daughter in a carrier.

I keep hoping he will relent and allow me to be the slacker that I am accustomed to being. Whether this is truly a cultural issue, or merely his personal preference …  I am not sure. It is probably a bit of both. I am doing my best to compromise and improve my homemaking skills, but it is a hard road. I will continue to walk it.


How I fell for the maintenance man

Several of my friends who read this will remember how I used to refer to my husband as “the maintenance man” because I didn’t know his name. Yes, I was enamored almost as soon as I met him. And he was unavailable! But a crush on an unavailable man is probably a good thing for a newly single mother.

I met my husband on my move in day at the apartments. I had some ex-family helping me move, but my china hutch was way too heavy to carry to the third floor. His help was enlisted. I followed up the stairs and thanked him profusely for his assistance.

I did not notice his looks. I was not even thinking about men. I did, however, notice his demeanor. Something about him was intriguing. And then there was the way he looked at me.

A couple of weeks after my kids and I moved in he came to repair a few things that needed attention in the apartment. When he arrived, I was in the middle of bringing up my new desk, one piece at a time. I knew the policy that children could not be alone in the units with the apartment staff. However, my toddler was asleep in my bedroom. I asked him if it was ok for me to go in and out of the apartment with him sleeping in there. He looked into my eyes and asked, “Do you trust me?”  I gazed back at him and realized that I did. I was stunned because I was normally very uncomfortable around men.  But there was something about him. I just didn’t know what it was.

While I was carrying the pieces of the desk upstairs, he surprised me by coming down to my van and offering to bring up the rest of it for me. I was so grateful! He even offered to help me put it together. I didn’t take him up on that because I couldn’t tell if he was hitting on me. More than that though, I didn’t want my kids to be confused by having a man in the apartment.

Fast forward one week.

I was so impressed by his kindness and warm smile that when I had had a particularly rough day, I thought about him. While driving home, I asked God to please make him appear on a balcony across from mine so that I could see his smile. Seriously, I know it sounds silly, but that’s what I asked for. I walked upstairs to my apartment and when I walked by my sliding glass door I saw him. Really! On a balcony across from me! I ducked, went to the bathroom to check my hair, and then tried to look casual when I stepped out onto the balcony to move some boxes. (The balcony was my storage area) He waved and said, “Hi neighbor!” Then he smiled and I was a goner.


Love Blooms by the Trash Compactor

My husband and I met where he worked and I lived. I’ve been mulling over how much to share about our history. I’ve concluded that since we are a blended family because of our romantic relationship, more details are better. 🙂

My husband was the maintenance man extraordinaire at the apartment complex I moved to when I left my ex. His duties included collecting all of the dumpsters and depositing the contents into the compactor. My parking space at my single mom digs was located near the trash compactor, so we saw each other a lot. Whenever he saw me he would smile and wave. I usually approached him to chat. There was something soothing and comforting about his demeanor. I enjoyed listening to him talk about his daughters. His fatherly pride and love for them impressed me.

I remember nearly every detail of each of our “chance” meetings. I say “chance” because I would often take my preschool aged son out for a walk, hoping I would run into him. And he reciprocated. Whenever he drove by in the maintenance vehicle he would pull over to talk to me. When I brought my trash out he would declare a smoke break so we could chat. I always made sure that I stood up-wind. It was strange, really. Me, a self-professed germaphobe who gagged at the slightest whiff of cigarette smoke, hanging out by open dumpsters to talk to a cigarette smoking man.

He had really caught me.

Next time, I will tell you why.


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