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I recently read the following post that was written by another blogger who happens to be the product of a divorced family. Her mother and father were divorced, and her father remarried. She wrote the post about her “second mom.” It’s always refreshing to hear from adult children because they provide so much insight regarding how the blended family has and continually affects them.  This provides us with the opportunity to put those assumptions to rest and hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

My Second Mom

June 1st is my dad and step-moms anniversary. I hesitate to call her. It’s not like she won’t already be thinking about it and I want her to know how I feel. I just don’t want to remind her of her pain.

My dad is gone, but I still want to celebrate the union that made Gramma sweet family. That day almost thirty years ago tied our souls to hers and we’re never going to let go. The heart break is, he’s gone.

I don’t want to just remember the fact that if he were still here they would be celebrating another beautiful anniversary. There marriage was one to aspire to. They loved each other with a passion beyond your imagination. They supported each other and treated each other with kindness. They trusted and respected each other. They enjoyed each others company immensely. They had their individuality, but they were the best of friends. I can’t even imagine the weight on her chest. I can’t even imagine the crushing numbness that comes with losing a spouse.

But she, Gramma sweet, is one of the most amazing women I have ever had the blessing of knowing. She took my dad in holy matrimony with three children and a hurting ex-wife. She made herself available to us in a way that our blood parents could not. She loved because she wanted to, because she could, because she chose to. Not because we were born to her.

God works in mysterious ways. Growing up a child of divorce, I had a lot of questions. Ironically, I never wished my parents back together like some kids do. I just wanted them to be neighbors. I didn’t want to give up my step-parents. I knew even then that they were a blessing in disguise. That’s why I want to celebrate tomorrow, because tomorrow is the anniversary of Gramma sweet telling the world not only how much she loved my dad but also how much she loved us kids.

Some people are lucky enough to get one set of beautiful people to raise them. Divorce can turn even beautiful people into complete fools. I was doubly blessed. Not that my parents never made any mistakes, they were human after all. Looking back I see that most of the mistakes were made by me.

If I could take her pain away I would. I would take it all and swallow it hole. I would carry it with me until the end of time so that she did not have to suffer. I would spend every last day begging God to bring him back only for her, not even for me. I love her. She is my parent, my friend and my mom.

I get the opportunity to speak with so many ex-wives, second wives, divorced dads, divorced adult children, etc. on a regular basis.  The conversation below is one of my interviews with a remarried dad that allows you to tap directly into the mind of a frustrated father, frustrated ex-husband and frustrated current husband.

Blending In: What was your relationship like with your ex-wife prior to you getting remarried?

Remarried Dad: It was pretty cool. We didn’t argue because there was nothing to argue about. She had her freedom, and i had the child (most of the time).

Blending In: When did you start having problems?

RD: As soon as my current wife and her child came into the picture. Well, as soon as my ex saw my current wife we started having problems. I had never seen my ex act that way before. But, none of my other relationships were serious either. My current wife started coming with me to pick up/drop off my son; she attended birthday parties; and overall, became a permanent fixture in my life. My ex didn’t like that for whatever reason.

BI: Didn’t you have some idea that you’d have problems?

RD: I knew there would be problems just because I knew what type of person she was. But, I underestimated the extent of the problems. I had always been an outstanding father (BI side note: I could see the sadness in his eyes as he spoke and hear the frustration in his voice), and I never thought she would purposely harm our relationship out of bitterness or competition.

BI: What was your relationship like with your current wife?

RD: In the beginning, before we even married, we fought all of the time about my ex-wife. My current wife felt as if I was allowing my ex-wife to control our family.

BI: How did you feel?

RD: I didn’t understand why my ex couldn’t see that I had moved on, and that my current wife would have a problem with some of the things she did when I was single. At the same time, I thought my current wife was just trying to make me adopt her way of thinking because she didn’t agree with my ex’s way of thinking. I thought this was just something that she was going to have to understand because she knew my situation before I got married.

BI: But, you knew your current wife’s situation before she got married. Did you attempt to understand her?

RD: I attempted, but couldn’t.

BI: How do you know that she didn’t attempt, but just couldn’t either? You seem as if you thought that she wasn’t even trying to do so.

RD: I didn’t feel like she was.

BI: Why?

RD: I just didn’t feel as if her feelings were justified because they were pulling me away from my son.

BI: Are you sure it was your current wife pulling you away from your son; or, was it your ex-wife that was keeping you away from your son because of your current wife?

RD: At the time I thought it was my current wife.

BI: Then why would you marry such a woman? Are there any good qualities about this woman? Was she caring or loving?

RD: At the time I didn’t feel like she was.

BI: Let me ask you this: who took care of your son when he was in your home?

RD: My current wife.

BI: Who fed him? Cleaned up after him? Transported him to necessary and sometimes unneccessary activities, etc.?

RD: My current wife.

BI: Do you think she would’ve done that if she wasn’t loving and caring?

RD: No…I guess not.

BI: If you felt as if your current wife was doing all of these things to keep you away from your son, then why’d you marry or stay married to her?

RD: Because I loved…I love my wife more than anything.

BI: Are you sure you weren’t just using her to care for your son?

RD: No way.

BI: Then why did you give her the privilege (I’m being sarcastic here) of taking care of your son, but basically take away her right to be respected as the mother figure in his life?

RD: I didn’t do that.

BI: You did exactly that – every time you dismissed her feelings when your ex got involved. You made her feel insecure…like she had no say so regarding what went on in her house.

RD: I thought I was making her feel secure.

BI: How?

RD: I was there with her.

BI: So was the trash. How’s that any different? She was there too. Yet, that wasn’t enough for you. You still didn’t feel as if she was attempting to understand.

RD: I just felt that my ex would always do what was in our son’s best interest.

BI: And you didn’t feel as if your current wife would?

RD: I didn’t know.

BI: Again, why did you marry her then? Better yet, why did you get divorced from your ex? You seemingly had more trust in her than you did your current wife.

RD: Ok, Oprah. Why are you being so hard on me?

BI: I’m not trying to be. I’m just trying to give you some insight as to what your second wife might have been thinking at the time. Many times men think that their ex is going to always do what’s in the child’s best interest, and she might even try to convince you that her actions are doing just that. However, many times it’s just that ex-wife’s need to control the situation for a number of different reasons that I won’t go into now (read some of my articles for more details). Often times it has nothing to directly do with the child at all. In your case, I have to wonder why you and your ex had no trouble raising your son in the beginning. You stated that you didn’t argue because she had her freedom and you had the child (most of the time), but all of a sudden (when your current wife comes into the picture) serious problems began.

RD: Well, we didn’t have to have a routine prior to my current wife coming into the picture. We basically played it by ear.

BI: What do you mean?

RD: For example, my ex could stop by at 10:30 at night to see our son if she wanted to. But, when my current wife entered she had a problem with that. She didn’t think it was appropriate.

BI: Did you think it was?

RD: I guess I was indifferent. I mean she always did things like that?

BI: So, did you drop by your ex’s in the middle of the night for visitation?

RD: No

BI: Why wasn’t there a set visitation schedule in place?

RD: We just never saw a need for one.

BI: You honestly didn’t see why your current wife would have a problem with these types of things? There was no order. Your ex-wife had no boundaries, while your current wife was just trying to maintain her family. She also had her own children and herself to consider.

RD: I didn’t see that then, but I do now. I made a lot of mistakes. And, had I known then what I know now, I would’ve done things much differently. Now, I wish I had heard, not just listened to my current wife. We wasted so much time fighting over something that should’ve been easy, but it just wasn’t.  I should’ve respected, trusted and protected my marriage from the very beginning.

BI: Is there anything that you want to say to your current wife now?

RD: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for making you feel like you had to choose between my son and yourself. I’m sorry I didn’t undertand where you were coming from in the very beginning of our relationship. But honestly, I don’t think I would’ve . I think this is something that we had to go through. And although it almost tore us apart, it made us stronger.

I promised all of my readers that you will get nothing but open honesty from me regarding my blended family issues. Additionally, you will get my honest feedback about what has worked and what has not. Furthermore, you will get honest content regarding what I believe my issues are/were that may have contributed to some of my blended family issues. This post will be no different – honest!

My ex and I were together for almost 6 years, and at one point we actually had a pretty good relationship. If nothing else, after all of those years and a child, I feel as though we should be able to move past all of the bickering about who did what and why. At this point, I’m all about solutions. We have an 11 year old son who I don’t want to be affected by our mistakes, and I told my ex that today.

Without going into too much detail, today is the first day I decided to be completely open and honest with my ex. Although we don’t have as many heated discussions as we did before regarding our son, we still have them from time to time. But, I feel as if those discussions are/were unproductive. As such, today wasn’t about trying to persuade him to adopt my way of thinking. It was more about attempting to truly understand him and him understand me. Usually, although I’ve learned a little bit of tact over the years, I am ready to rebuttal any and everything he has to say. This time, however, I honestly spoke my piece and actually listened (hoping to understand) to him. What I learned is this – I don’t know why he has made the decisions that he has made in the past, but I do know that I don’t believe that he possessed any malicious intent when making those decisions. I honestly believe that he is pulled in a number of different directions, and he just doesn’t know what to do. Now, while this isn’t acceptable for my son, I sort of understand where he is coming from.  I hope one day that he can gain some clarity regarding his own life – figure out his priorities, learn how to balance his relationships and still work on being a better father and person.

It’s amazing how certain decisions will follow you for the rest of your life! I hope that those after me will learn how important it is to be careful, maybe even strategic, when choosing a mate. Additionally, I hope that those same individuals will think carefully about when to have a child and who to have that child with. Certain decisions can not be undone, and often times you will spend the rest of your life trying to correct those decisions. Like me, for example, me and my ex will forever be connected because we share a child. We MUST learn to communicate effectively, trust each other and continually attempt to provide our child a life that he deserves. A part of that deserving life are parents that get along and will also do what’s in his best interest.

A relationship of any sort takes time and lots of work. But, the blended family needs a lot more so make sure you’re willing to devote that type of energy before entering into this type of family. Ideally, we would all like to think that love conquers all, but this just isn’t true so try not to get caught up in the fairytale of love. Instead, carefully examine your potential mate before deciding to enter into something that will take a lifetime to get out of.

The stepmother generally has the most challenging role within the blended family. We are expected to bear most of the responsibility of running the household, yet receive less respect. Ex-wives must know that we are the ones who take care of their children when they are in our home. They so graciously allow us to feed them; take care of them when they are sick; and tuck them in at bed time. Yet, we can’t discipline them or follow our own house rules because we must follow theirs.

Often times it’s a no win situation for stepmothers. At one point in my own blended family when I saw things were getting way to tense between the ex-wife and I; I tried to take a backseat, thereby lessening the interaction with my stepson. But, when I did so, I was seen as cold and insensitive. So, then I tried to take an active role and be the good mom that I am to my biological son. It didn’t feel natural taking a backseat (where my stepson was concerned) as a parent. But, when I did that, I was seen by the ex-wife as trying to replace her. Like I said, you can’t win so why try? I finally had to realize that I just couldn’t be the one to please and/or fix everyone.

Furthermore, some ex-wives are simply not going to change. Some times I believe ex-wives want to think that second wives are horrible people as an excuse to continue bickering. I think it’s easier for them to believe that their ex-husband married an ax murderer because it makes her look like the damsel in distress. So, second wives/stepmothers need to stop trying be the only one that keeps the family together and husbands need to step up and lend more support. SW’s don’t try to create a home that is more pleasing to your stepchildren and/or their mother so that they will accept you. Instead, you and your husband need to decide upon a way to run your household in a manner that you both see as fit and the children and ex-wife are the one’s that need to adjust, not the other way around. From experience, I know that this is a difficult challenge because not only will you and the ex-wife have different views about parenting, but you and your husband may have different views as well. However, you must always, always, always realize that you and your husband are the individuals who took vows before God. Therefore it is most important that you two agree! Everyone in the blended family will not agree on everything, especially parenting, but you must focus on the two people that count and that’s you and your husband. Neither of you need to spend time trying to get the ex-wife to see it your way because this takes time away from you and your husband achieving consensus.

My hat goes off to second wives and stepmothers because they certainly aren’t given enough credit; face many battles with all members of the blended family; are blamed for everything and bear most of the responsibility of running the household. But, there is hope! Be sure to check out my blended family co-parenting tips post that should help bring some order to your blended family.

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