When my first husband and I realized that our marriage was not going work, we went to great lengths to make sure that our 2 wonderful children knew that it was not their fault and we made sure that we would put them first. I read every article I could on children of divorce and swore I would make the best out of the situation for them. My own parents divorced when I was 8 and it certainly wasn’t easy on me. I didn’t see my dad very often, I had to move out of the house I loved, and I even lost my pets (all three of them). So you can see how I wanted to make sure that I did everything in my power to make this divorce as easy as possible for my children.
It was easy at first. They saw us all the time and we did not fight at all. It was fairly amicable compared to most. I like to say we followed the Bruce Willis and Demi Moore school of “how to divorce” because they, as far as I can tell, did it better than most!
But then I had to go and make it difficult by finding the love of my life. It didn’t help that I found him one month after my ex and I decided to call it quits. It REALLY didn’t help that he had just informd he wanted a divorce from his wife 2 weeks before he met me. I don’t think the timing could have been any worse but I am not one to argue with fate. This is where it got really complicated for to make matters worse, he lived in Tampa and I was living in Coconut Creek, opposite sides of the state. 3 hours and 15 minutes to be exact. We dated back and forth for several months. He had a 2 year old daughter and we decided not to meet the others offspring until we knew it was relatively serious.
So we did lots of things together, with and without the kids. It was very hard as his ex-wife was not on board with any of this divorce talk and was in – well let’s just say she wasn’t in a good place. From the very beginning I was fearful that her outlook and how she was dealing with the separation and divorce was going to have a very negative effect on her daughter. Sadly, as I now know her daughter at age 14, I can say my fears were justified. I have a tremendous amount of insight here and the main reason is that I saw what can happen to children first hand when you divorce good AND when you divorce bad. My two children have a completely different perspective compared to my stepdaughter. She has been caught in the middle of a divorce and I am certain the way she has been feeling lately is a direct result of that position.
So you are probably thinking…” Blended is splendid? Really? It sure doesn’t sound like it!” But my point is that it CAN be… if you follow this little mantra: “Put the kids first and you will avoid the worst”. There are many things we can do to help ease the transition of two familes joining together. Some things I had control of and other things I did not. I think that’s one of the hardest things for me to deal with. That, and the need for everyone to like me. But seriously, I eventually realized that it’s OK if his ex doesn’t like me. The only thing that isn’t OK is doing or saying something that hurts the children. Some things are pretty obvious but others not so much and can be just as damaging as the obvious.
One thing is certain, living in a blended family is a constant learning experience and if nothing else, we can learn from our mistakes. But better than that, we should strive to know as much as possible regarding what is the best way to handle a divorce/remarriage and do the right thing when it comes to our children. Many parents let pride get in the way of what they should do. Others are simply frustrated because they were not ready for the sudden and sometimes difficult change in their living arrangements. But if we work together and use our common sense, mixed with the unconditional love we have for our children, the blended family CAN be a splendid family. Until it is, keep checking back here on my blog for tips and advice for becoming splendid – without losing your sanity!