Tag Archives: relationships

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.

Advertisements

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


My Faith Carries Me Through

I have spent the past 15 years engaging in discussion and sharing ideas online. During that time I have set rules for myself. The two most important being: don’t talk politics, don’t talk religion. There is one caveat to those rules, I may discuss them if I’m “preaching to the choir.”

I am breaking that rule on my blog. I’m going to talk about my faith. If it were not for my faith in God, I would not be where I am today and I don’t know where I would be tomorrow.

I became a Christian late in life. I was raised by an atheist and an agnostic. I dabbled in Eastern philosophy and considered myself a Hindu for awhile. In my early twenties I developed rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. These debilitating diseases caused me to frequently ask, “why?”  In the midst of this questioning phase I attended a weekend workshop with Ram Dass (google him). During a meditation we were directed to visualize the person who was our greatest spiritual teacher. Who popped into my head? Buddha? No. Krishna? No. Bhagwan Rajneesh? lol  No. Jesus. Jesus appeared in my mind’s eye. Glowing, hippie-like, dressed in robe and sandals.

“No! What is he doing there?!” I relaxed, cleared my mind again and Bam! he was back. Sigh.

That wasn’t the turning point that led me to Christianity. It wasn’t until about 9 years later that I claimed my faith. Like many people, I actively sought God after losing a loved one. What I didn’t realize was that I desperately needed God to carry me through an abusive marriage. He did just that. At times I was nearly drowning in despair and feelings of helplessness, but I would call out to the Lord to help me and He was faithful. And I made it through another day.

God has worked miracles in my life. At one time during my first marriage I had requested information on teacher certification and a Masters degree from a local university. I looked it over, stuffed it in a drawer and thought, maybe later, when my kids were older. While decluttering my cabinets I grabbed that folder, ready to toss it in recycling. A voice in my head rang out, “No. Keep it. You may need it.” I stuck it back in the drawer.

Two days later my ex went sideways, ranted at my children and I. He was absolutely terrifying. He scared our children, he threatened my life. Within a week my kids and I were out of our house and in an apartment away from him. I took that folder with me. I applied to the program and earned that Masters degree. God had warned me on that June morning in 2006. I am so very grateful to Him.

During those early days, weeks, and months of being a single mom I spoke with God daily. I prayed for strength. I prayed for the well being of my children. I prayed for our safety. Taking care of three rambunctious children on my own was not easy. Being alone was hard. I constantly leaned on God. He frequently gave me tangible evidence that He was there for me and working for good in my life.

About three months after I left my ex he called in the middle of the night. He was drunk and in Las Vegas. I think it may have been his birthday. (He called in the middle of the night on several occasions, always intoxicated. I learned to turn off my phone at night.) He decided to unburden himself to me. He cried and whined about how sad he was. He went on and on, drunk and rambling. I only listened because our relationship was horribly  co-dependent.

The next day he called back and then he dropped his bombshell. He had been having an affair while we were together. For the last three years of our marriage. Before our third child was conceived he had been cheating on me. My life had been a lie.

I hung up on him and went outside. I was crying. I had just walked down the pathway towards my van — I always cried in the van back then — when the orange maintenance cart pulled up next to me. There was the maintenance man, looking at me with a concerned look and then saying, “You’re too pretty to cry.” What a cheesy line! lol  But it broke through my tears. He asked what was wrong and I told him. He then shared that his ex-wife had cheated on him and he understood how it felt. We spoke for a few minutes, sharing briefly some of the pain that betrayal brings. He gave me a little pep talk and smiled at me, told me that my ex must be really stupid. His words made me chuckle and smile ruefully.

I went back into my apartment and prayed. My pain was lifted. I knew that whatever my ex had done didn’t matter. I am a child of God. As a child of God my life is important to Him and He will make all things work for the best for me, my children, and everyone.

What a strange and wonderful blessing God gave me that day.


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.


%d bloggers like this: