Category Archives: Marriage & Divorce
Do you have an ex in your life, which makes your life hell? Does it feel like even though your spouse got divorced, that they are still married? Would it surprise you to find out that you put up with more than you have to, simply because the ex says you do?
Below are nine ways to stop allowing the ex to run your life. And, how to remove the welcome mat from your porch and your forehead respectively.
1. You didn’t marry them; they are not your ex.
This person your spouse or significant other married and consequently divorced, was not who you planned to spend your life with. The word exclude, starts with ex, do just that.
2. The ex does not own your spouse just because they share a child.
If your spouse is the non-custodial parent with visitation; it is difficult, but not impossible. Though no longer a team in terms of marriage, they are a team in terms of the child/ren. The ex can only control what the divorce decree says. If the ex has sole legal and sole physical, s/he has the say over schooling, medical and religion. However s/he is required by law to encourage and nurture a relationship with any and all family members of the child’s non-custodial parent. This includes stepfamily, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Better yet, did you know your spouse has a right to daily phone calls with their child, unless noted differently in the divorce decree?
3. If you want to attend a school or sporting event – you can. Doctors’ appointments too.
Sporting events are public; anyone and their grandmother can attend. If you want to go, go. Same goes for school recitals, back to school nights, etc. In fact most schools will do separate conferences so that both homes are involved in the child’s educational progress and needs. In terms of doctors’ appointments you can go with a spouse, or have your name added to the child’s file as someone who has a right to medical care and information. It is really no different than having access to a credit card or utility bill that may be solely in your spouse’s name. You can gain information and have some involvement.
4. Your spouse’s visitation time is your spouse’s choice to spend it how they wish.
The ex-spouse cannot commit you to anything on your time. This includes sports, doctors’ appointments, birthday parties etc. It is a double edge sword though because if by not taking the child to certain engagements will hurt the child in the process, it is a no win situation. But, by no means are you required to do it.
5. Follow your divorce decree, not the ex’s divorce commands.
It can’t be any more plain stated than this. The divorce decree is your spouse’s bible in a sense. It states what is expected, allowed and forbade. Non-custodial parents have more rights than most realize, like rights to medical and school records. Do your research.
6. If your spouse and their ex share joint legal and joint physical custody – your spouse’s say is just as important as the ex’s.
One is not more than the other. In some cases, one parent may have sole physical custody, while both retain joint legal custody. You need to know the differences of these and what your spouse has.
7. The ex can only control what there is no control over.
If a void is visible, the ex will invade. One place the ex will try to invade is your marriage. This is your territory – be territorial enough to remind the ex, this is not their place, and their existence will not be tolerated. Stand your ground.
8. The ex’s issue with you, is a reflection of an issue with themselves.
Any parent who is content with themselves and their own level of involvement and parenting they provide will never limit or control the parenting or involvement of anyone else. This is a well-known fact.
9. In terms of child support, do your own math and research.
Many parents pay more than they should, and feel as though they have to roll over and take it. If your spouse feels there is a substantial change either in their income or the ex’s, request a review. If your spouse is on disability or the ex is on disability make sure the child support office is aware. You’d be surprised how many parents overpay because they failed to double check or request a review.
There you have it, nine ways to limit or exclude the ex’s involvement in your home, your marriage and the relationship with your stepkids.
∗Don’t be a Mom, be their friend
∗Don’t be the disciplinarian
∗Stepchildren should be allowed to misbehave
∗It is easier without the other parents involvement.
∗You will eventually grow to love them, and they will love you.
Chances are, if you are a stepparent, you’ve had these said to you by either a successful stepparent whose life is perfect – and possibly lives in denial, a family member or worse; your own friends. Here are five common myths, and tips to prevail.
#1 Don’t be their Mom, be their friend.
It was about a few months in when a friend of my significant other muttered this very statement. It was followed up by “He already has aunts, grandma, and me, he doesn’t need anyone else.” Those words are as fresh in my mind as the day she spoke them. What I should have said was this: Last time I checked, his mother hasn’t been in his life for years. Furthermore, Aunts are aunts, Grandmas are grandma’s and you are a friend. Therefore, looks like the Mom position is currently vacant, so I am just going to go right ahead and slip into whatever role his father and I choose. Instead of course I sat there with the deer in the headlights stare, and a broken heart. This is solely a decision that is left up to the people who it effects, your spouse, your stepchild and yourself.
#2 Don’t be the disciplinarian.
Okay, let me get this straight, what you are saying is that if the child misbehaves with me, I need to wait until his father comes home to rectify that? Or, if I see him misbehaving even when his father is home, I am supposed to run to his father and tattle that he is doing something wrong and make him deal with it? Whoa honey, no freaking way! Sorry, not happening, uh uh. NO. Allow me to explain why in two reasons. First, respect is built by setting expectations and firm foundations, and allowing the go around or discipline to doled about by someone else, is less effective. That simply permits the child to be disrespectful and to misbehave until dad gets home. And, the second reason is, have you ever asked your husband to take the garbage out…. it can take days!! Discipline needs to be done in the moment, direct, and efficient for it to work.
#3 Stepchildren should be allowed to misbehave.
When venting to friends about the difficulties in blended families, and building a relationship with your stepchild you hear the difference in responses when the conversation of ill behaviors arise. When you are talking about your biological childs misbehavior to another parent the responses are “Oh yep they get bitchy when their periods are coming” Or, “Oh, I would have spanked her ass, and grounded her until she was 16!” But, not with stepchildren. Those responses are “Oh, she must be going through a lot. You need to love her through this phase.” Or, “Well consider how she feels, she’s angry, lost and confused, she just needs patience.” While, I can give the benefit of the doubt and show compassion like any other parent for a majority of situations – I am not an idiot! Sometimes, kids are little shits, and do bad things, and misbehave. ALL KIDS. They all need the same reaction and same treatment. No different. Same love, same discipline – same, same same.
#4 It is easier without the other parents involvement.
Really? For who? The child? Or, me? I used to believe this myth. I was wrong. My stepsons mother is not involved except maybe three times a year, by phone – if that! Yesterday was the first day of school, and all day my mind was overrun by thoughts like, will she call? Why didn’t she call? Who does that? Sure, I made sure to ask him about his first day, and I made sure to take those all important first day photographs, his father and I took care of the school clothes shopping and the school supplies, without one care or concern from her. She is not involved with him, but she and I are involved in that she lives permanently in my head, rent free. She lives as the fear I have that she will never call, or that she will call. That she will never come back for him, or that she will come back for him. That she will always be the one he wants, because he so badly wants her to want him. I worry she will let him down either way – and there will be nothing I can do to prevent that heartbreak.
#5 You will eventually grow to love them, and they will love you.
I’ve never been one to blow smoke up anyone’s skirt, mostly because I don’t smoke and I have no business up another woman’s skirt – but nonetheless this is not always the case. Sure there are some gloriously unified step families that just work. However, there are plenty of blended families who live to respect their parents choices, and live a life without a bond or love for their stepparent. In the same sense, there are stepparents that tolerated their stepchildren until they were old enough to live on their own. A stepparent/stepchild relationship can’t and shouldn’t be forced. If it happens naturally and effortlessly that is fantastic and makes life that much easier. But, don’t be surprised or feel doomed if it doesn’t happen for you right away, or at all. You can still foster a relationship with mutual care and respect.
Contrary to popular belief no one really has the answers on how to be the best stepparent. There are plenty of articles and advice from those that have lived it, and while those should be respected if only as a differing point of view, you don’t have to agree. You need to do what is best for you and your step-family. For me, I choose to be the mom, not the friend to all my children, step or otherwise. My significant other and I are the two leading adults in our home, we are partners in the responsibility for raising healthy, happy and well adjusted children who we chose to love, care and discipline regardless of the person or whose child is whose. Children and Stepchildren, are the same. Period. Maybe, one day the lack of involvement from the other parent will change, maybe it won’t – don’t allow that to limit your involvement. Love your stepchildren/stepparents as best as you can, if you have to fake it at first, do that. If its not there, respect them.
After all, we are all in this together.
Have you ever awoke from a dream that was so intense and real that your heart breaks as you open your eyes?
I dreamt about him again, and its such a double edged sword because even though for the duration of the dream we’re together again, there is always the waking up that rips him away.
Divorce sucks, everyone knows that, divorce with your children involved even worse, but nothing is worse than divorce with a stepchild. Nothing.
Ethan was only one when he blessed my life. Having had a hysterectomy after my son, I always believed God wasn’t done with me as a mother, therefore he brought me Ethan. We had him in our home every other week for a week at a time, which is virtually unheard of at his age.
At first, it was hard to get used to, because my children were 5 and 7 at the time. Diapers, sippy cups and highchairs were a thing of the past. But, it took no time at all to fall in love with this blonde little sweetheart.
He always called me mom, because he copied my kids. It was hard because his mother hated it. It was something he chose and though I was uneasy with it at first, I grew to love it and to call him my son. Raising him was a joint responsibility in our home. In every definition and action I was his mother, and I loved him dearly, and still do.
Through battles in court, battles between my husband and his mother, I fought hard for this little kiddo. My love for him and my relationship with him, is what started my blog, and my parenting page. My children took to him instantly and we were a family. And then after three years, we weren’t. He was gone.
His dad left for another woman. He left while my kids were not at home, and while Ethan was with his mom. There was and has never been a goodbye on either end. My children were left heartbroken by the dual loss of a stepfather and brother. And, I, well…I haven’t seen Ethan since. Except in photos here and there.
That is probably why I still dream about him. In my dreams Ethan calls me mommy, and hugs me so tight as if to hold me over until our next date in our dreams. He caresses my face and tells me “I love you mommy” the way he used to do. This time I was so happy to see him that I was crying, and woke up feeling as though I was going to cry. My heart hurts, still, a year later.
It makes me hate his father, and the woman he left our family for. The woman who informed me it was better for Ethan and my children, to not see eachother or the man that was a father type in their life. She has no children of her own, how does she know? She made the rules and he followed them.
While I’m thankful my ex is gone, and even more delighted that they two now are eachothers karma; I miss my son. I miss his laughter, his silliness, his sweet breathy voice and the way he loved me so. I miss him crawling into my lap, caressing my face and telling me stories about bullriding and hockey with his excited little boy voice. I miss him holding hands with his brother and sister and how excited he was to see them when he came home every week. I miss the 3 am tapping on my shoulder, saying “mommy can I snuggle you?”
Now, awake and emotional, I will go on about my day dealing with the loss of my son again. The sinking feeling in my heart, that dull aching pain which will exist unbeknownst to anyone throughout the day. I’ll suffer quietly because noone understands it and everyone expects it to go away because its been over a year. But, guess what? It hasn’t.
It hides away until we meet again in our dreams. I miss you Ethan, and love you always.
And he rubbed my back, he really did… Of course this an odd place to start and what might seem like something so insignificant that it shouldn’t be worth mentioning. However, you couldn’t be further off the beaten path. Truth is, before this, before the Love Dare – he hated rubbing my back. Okay he probably does still, but you know what I am saying. Prior he made excuses like ” my fingers hurt” or the wonderful Oscar winning performance where his hand slowly stops because he pretended he had fallen asleep; made me quit asking. It happens at your home too, I bet.
Now, don’t get me wrong, doing the Love Dare isn’t so you can get your spouse to do the dishes, or rub your back, but when things are better – we ALL tend to act and love each other better.
My husband and I both like playing cribbage, and we have the app on our phones. We used to get into bed, and play against each other, best out three all the time. However letting life, kids, fighting, schedules and whatever else get in the way, we stopped playing both the game and with each other. The Love Dare forces you to re-evaluate, to get involved, to remember to interact with your spouse. The night before last, I challenged my husband with a best out of three cribbage battle. He of course, as many men would, accepted the challenge. If we won, we got whatever we asked for – I chose a neck massage. He never verbalized his choice. Which come to think of it now – was odd. I figured it would be something in the unmentionable region – but I just let his silence lead the way.
Game two, I was in the lead, in fact, I almost skunked him even, but by one point, I lost. Game two, neck and neck, and again within a few points, I lost. Oh man, there goes that opportunity – not only did I lose to the “master of cribbage”, but the elusive neck massage would slip through his grasp and my relaxation yet again. However, this time that didn’t bother me like before. None of that really mattered, because we had fun, we laughed, we competed and we spent time one on one. After placing our phones on their chargers, I rolled over and placed my head on his chest, feeling at peace, relaxed, and happy. And then it happened…
He started rubbing my neck, then my back – all on his own, without my saying anything. Within minutes I was sound asleep like a little baby – hopefully minus the drooling! It was by far the best night of sleep I have had in months. To him, it probably wasn’t anything major – to me, it meant the WORLD. He did something he really just flat out doesn’t like, to make me happy. I thought he forgot how to do that, or that we as a couple had forgot the importance of doing things for the ones we love. But, the truth is that when we take care of our spouse, in every way, they do want to, and most often will, return the kind gestures that aren’t an expectation.
I am sure there are many men who do this for their spouses all the time, and it isn’t this monumental accomplishment, however it should be. We need to remember our spouses chose to be with us, and its a choice to keep the romance, the little things we hate to do, the friendship and love alive. We forget to thank them, to acknowledge them – to love them in the ways we did in the beginning.
Little by little – we are falling in love again, reconnecting and recommitting to this life long process of give and take, expectations, sometimes heart break and disappointment – all which are parts of marriage that after the storm, create a closeness that couldn’t have been achieved without the trials and tribulations in the first place. It is a great feeling – to feel great. Its a loving feeling to love and be loved in return. We are all constantly learning and growing, what a great experience it is – to choose to do that together.
When was the last time you truly showed your spouse – they are special, appreciated and loved by you?
“Fireproof doesn’t mean a fire will never come, but that when it comes you’ll be able to withstand it.”
Day one, dare one, was easier than I thought – it was almost a calm before the storm in a sense. Staying busy at work, and visiting with friends kept me from the urge of texting, calling, questioning – or controlling. Towards the later part of the day my husband reached out to me, asked how my day was – and for a moment I thought about not responding. Then I remembered what I read about patience and kindness – and responded.
We ended up filling in for some friends in a kickball game, and then went to their home afterwards. The house naturally divided as most do when you have many different couples, with children running throughout the house. The women stayed inside and the men huddled around a bonfire outside. We had a great night, we were together, yet not side by side. With the ladies, I laughed harder than I have laughed in months, mainly because the only thing I have done lately is cry. We laughed so hard, I couldn’t breath, and was reminded how vital girlfriends are, the ones that don’t judge – the ones that let you see them fail – just the same as offer a helping hand when you do. We are all the same. We shared those details no one talks about, the failures we keep hidden and insecurities that define our own personal sense of beauty and what makes us all unique.
That night I went to bed without having said one negative thing to my husband, not one nagging remark, and it felt good. Waking up the next morning, I was eager to see what day two was going to bring. Not only for my dare, but for my marriage.
Day two kept the patience from day one, with the addition of kindness. Sounds pretty basic and easy enough right? Do you know how many people don’t practice either in their marriage at some point, if not many times? Think how you treat a common stranger, we hold the door for the person behind us, we use manners, and most often give more time than we have because they appear to need it. However, those that need it within our home, are last to get it, if at all. An excerpt from the book The Love Dare says this:
Initiative. Kindness thinks ahead, then takes the first step. It doesn’t sit around waiting to be prompted or coerced before getting off the couch. The kind husband or wife will be the one who greets first, smiles first, serves first, and forgives first. They don’t require the other to get his or her act together before showing love. When acting from kindness, you see the need, then make your move. First.
With that, Saturday’s dare was, In addition to saying nothing negative, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness. While at a break between my daughters softball games at her tournament, I ran to a local sporting store to look at cleats for two of children. While I was standing in line to make my purchase, my eye caught the rack that held the Phiten Titanium braided sporting necklaces that my husband had mentioned he needed, because his had broken. Recently, he had decided to separate our finances, something that I was struggling with, and buying him anything right now honestly seemed unfair – but anyone who knows me also knows that I love spoiling my husband and kids…and in this case it did fall into the category of the dare. Stepping out of line, I grabbed him the necklace and then made my way back to the ball fields.
After getting their cleats, my son extremely excitedly, brought me the necklace with a raised eyebrow, nudging me in a manner to ask if it was his. His birthday is coming, and he expected it was his. I need to make a mental note on that one, because talk about heart break when I said it wasn’t for him – you’d think I took his birthday away! Anyhow, when my husband joined us – I reached into my purse and handed him the necklace as nonchalantly as possible, I didn’t want it to seem as a reward, because I was still hurting and it seemed odd to be giving him a gift. He asked why I had done that, and put it on instantly. I explained I knew he had wanted one. Sitting there as he was messing with it, I waited for a thank you, a kind remark – anything…I’d keep waiting, and I had to be okay with that because the point wasn’t for a response, or to gain recognition. Gifts are to be given without expectation. It made me realize maybe, I expect more than we are supposed to.
Sitting there watching my daughter play ball, my son play at the park, the sun was shining and my husband was sitting beside me. That is where he chose to be that day, at that time, necklace or no necklace – so for me that is success for Day 2.
Have you shown your spouse Kindness today?
It would take awhile to explain how I am to the point of this newest chapter – and as much as I would love to clear the air and set the record straight sort to speak, it is best that I give my marriage the respect it deserves as to the ins and outs of our out. The main objective is that I love my husband and there is nothing I have taken more seriously than my vows this this man.
While I take this journey publicly with you, he is unaware as he doesn’t read my blog, my Facebook or anything for that matter, he hates reading. So, I ask any of you that may know us to keep it this way – allow us this – and allow me the chance to document it. The point of documenting this journey is three-fold. First, I need to stick with it – Second, I want to see if it really will save my marriage and Third – if it does, I want it to help you.
We have been together three years and married just under two, with kids on both sides, care packages full of history on both sides and enough pain to sink under the heaviest anchor. Neither of us are innocent, and neither of us have done anything serious enough to not be forgiven or to have broken the bond of marriage. However, we are struggling and I hope this can help, because I honestly have nowhere and no one else to turn to.
Right now, I am in a place of where there are days I can tell you that I do not feel like my husband loves me, I feel alone, and I feel like my children are my saving grace. There are times I see and read quotes that make me feel a burst of hope that marriages would last more if people realized the happy ever after follows the worse part. Being strong and not giving up are all things I do naturally as a parent, however are not easy to come by as a wife, at least not for me. My husband has wonderful qualities, pumping me up however is not one of them. So…I have to figure this out on my own, well with the help of God and the Love Dare.
Today is day one, Patience. Anyone who knows me knows I am not anything close to resembling patient, unless it involves my children or someone in need. One of my biggest downfalls is that I can be quick tempered especially when I am hurt. It says this on day one “Anger is usually caused when the strong desire for something is mixed with disappointment or grief. You don’t get what you want and you start heating up inside. It is often an emotional reaction that flows out of our own selfishness, foolishness, or evil motives.” and I feel it is extremely accurate. Because this is me.
My mouth can’t hold anything inside, and neither can my heart, it explodes with happiness, hurt and anger all the same. Lately my anger, frustration, feelings of helplessness, things that admittedly could all begin within ME end up snowballing into ultimatums, threats, and everything unhealthy and controlling that has no place in a marriage. Therefore – we start with day one.
Today’s Dare says to not say anything negative to your spouse all day, and that if the only way to not say something negative it to hold your tongue, do so. It’s 12:40 pm my time and I have yet to speak to my spouse since 5 am this morning. That is not normal for me, and it has been hard – but I’m doing my best to give him his space and allow myself to not react to the feelings I struggle with from the yesterdays still hanging on. At this point staying mum – is putting my best foot forward. We will see how the rest of the day goes.
I hope you will follow this journey with me, and that you will will pray for us and join me if you feel the need ❤
Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission. Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.