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When I met my husband, I was blown away. “He is perfect.” I told my mom. There are a couple of other things you need to know though. He is divorced, has 3 kids, and is 10 years older than me…I know. A lot to swallow especially coming from her 18 year old daughter. Needless to say, she was speechless and my dad was not happy at all.This guy was so perfect, I didn’t care at all. In fact, a week after meeting him I moved from Texas to Washington D.C. So I became insta-mom. FAST.

family

Being a stepmom is no piece of cake. It is hard work. It is probably the most challenging thing I have ever experienced.  I don’t think any woman ever dreams up a fairy tale of being a stepmom. The same goes for marriage. Nobody gets married with the intention of it ending in divorce. It has been almost 7 years since we met and here are some key points I have learned during my time so far as being a stepmom to 3 kids.

  • Leave the discipline to their dad. This is tough to learn and respect. I will never be their ‘mom’ and I shouldn’t try to be. When we first met, I would try to discipline the kids and the outcome was laughable. Who are you to discipline me? We just met you! Believe me when I say this, Leave it to their dad! If something comes up where the kids need discipline, tell the dad and let him handle it. (At least in the beginning.) Once your relationship grows, the kids will learn to respect you and your rules.                           (more…)

My Ex, Myself and the Expectation Balance

by Alexandra Lucia on March 18, 2013
category: Healthy Mom,Husbands and Dads,Practical Tips

If you’re anything like me, you are probably selfless to your own downfall.  Whether it’s with friends, family, and especially with a significant other, this can create complications.

With my most recent breakup, I’ve found that these complications usually don’t arise as a major issue with the other person (that’s a separate subject entirely), it morphs into an ugly resentment monster, usually pent up deep within our own selves.

couple finding balance

The resentment monster then begins to slowly manifest itself in the form of snippy comments, aloofness, or if you’re lucky enough to have to navigate my map of emotions, complete silence and disengagement.

I turn into an unresponsive, and probably a passive aggressive stone statue, “Everything’s fine, no worries, yea cool, whatever”.  Looking back, those are a few of the delightful gems that my ex-boyfriend had to endure.

Selflessness aside, I have myself to blame for choosing to try to be a super woman girlfriend, and expecting a superman boyfriend in return.  My former boyfriend is a musician (a tremendously successful musician, who I still cannot get over).  We’ve been involved for three years, and bond regularly over contemporary art and reggae music.

Based on my personality, I know that I will stop everything at the sound of a needle dropping for someone I love.  But, I also need to feel the love back.  I believe the littlest gestures, and small amounts of individual attention, make a world of difference.  I dropped engagements, plans with friends, and huge dreams of drama school to be completely devoted to a person who I still think is insanely brilliant, without giving myself enough credit to think similarly of myself.

While I am still reeling over the separation, blaming myself for not being supportive “enough”, awkwardly trying to figure out if we can be friends, and secretly hoping things might be different if we have a second chance, I do realize that there is a balance, and I clearly haven’t achieved that balance.

I recall disagreeing during a one year anniversary (on and off anniversary) because I wanted to go dancing, and he didn’t.  I ended up picking up the tab for “our” dinner and hearing a convincing argument as to why we should do something at a later date (which we never did).  Almost immediately, I began telling myself that I was “too needy” and how “selfish” I am to want to go dancing with my significant other.  But, in retrospect, it was my selflessness that choked a lot of the love, and maybe even permanently caused the flames of love to fizzle.  I lost sight of my passions and goals and desires, and I became a femmebot machine, nodding at every whim, and graciously exhausting myself at every command.

I know I’m not alone in this epidemic.  So what can WE as women do about it?

First, I think we need to check in with ourselves every so often.  Or, as a wise friend says, “Check yoself before you wreck yoself”.  If you are or anticipate being in a relationship at any point in the future, make sure you’re achieving your goals, and pursuing your dreams regardless of who is in the picture.

Second, if you have any gut feelings that you’re being mistreated, manipulated, disrespected (in any way), speak up!  If it’s repetitively harmful (physical or emotional), get out. You’re not crazy, and you’re not needy.  You’re intelligent, and wildly talented, you’re just maintaining your self worth.

Finally, if you feel like you’re battling to keep a spark alive, or a relationship that has an expiration date, and nothing is changing, make the change yourself.  If you’re exhausting every inch of your soul, energy, finances, and conversations to convince someone to be with you, to help you out, to spend one night a week at home with you, let them go!

The fact is, I am perfectly imperfect, but I let my expectations cloud the physical inactions (and actions) that I received.  I created a prince in shining armor, and became a resentful monster; all I had to do was make a change, and focus on myself.

Safeguarding Your Marriage from Infidelity

by Amanda on October 16, 2009
category: Husbands and Dads,Inspiration,Marriage

couple This post isn’t the usual light Friday faire, but it is something that it is on my heart to share with you all. I truly believe that both spouses will be tempted to cheat as long as they are married. The temptation may not be there every day, but comes and goes over time. Cheating isn’t necessarily sleeping with someone else, but sharing your life that you should be sharing with your spouse with someone else.

No one wakes up and says, “I’m going to have an affair today!” It happens gradually over time. It begins with a thought in your own heart, an innocent flirtation, or checking someone out. You may not think anything of it at the time, but it can build up in your heart. I think it is so important for couples to talk about this subject and hold each other accountable. No one is above temptation.

Here are some ways that we can safeguard our marriages from infidelity.

1. Confess to your spouse when you check someone out. Before we are married we are programmed to check out every potential guy. Then you get married and have to turn that “checking out” switch off. After a while you don’t even think about doing that, then one day you just do it. It happens. I tell my spouse what I did or he tells me and we move on. I do think it is harder for guys, because some women like to showcase their boobs.

2. Don’t put yourself in situations that have the appearance of infidelity. As a common rule, don’t be alone in a house with a friend of the opposite gender, ride in the car, or go out to lunch. This may be extreme, but if you never get in those situations you will never give the impression of any wrong doing.

3. Carbon Copy or CC your spouse when sending an email to a friend that is of the opposite gender. My husband and I seriously do this and I think it helps a lot. We had one friend that wouldn’t reply-all so we told them about our rule and then that friend gladly obliged. It holds each spouse accountable.

4. No magazines or movies that are highly sexual in nature. There is no exception to this rule. I don’t know one woman that feels great when their husbands view other women. It makes wives feel like poop even though that is not their intention when they are engaging in that behavior. Women we need to be careful too!

5. No rules about Hollywood actor exceptions. There are couples that will allow their spouse to be with one actor or actress if they ever meet them. Maybe I am being extreme here, but I don’t think joking about it is funny. I think it opens the door to thinking that maybe this behavior might be permitted. I would rather my husband to always want me no matter who they met. That’s just me.

All these actions build trust in a marriage. I like knowing that we can hold each other accountable and not be jealous. Women love feeling secure and there is something to feeling secure when you know you can trust your husband. It is also great when they can trust their wife. A marriage is stronger when trust is built.

Do you have any safeguards in place? Do you feel like you can trust your spouse?

When Husbands Travel

Christy’s post last week got me thinking about our family dynamic.  My husband works close to home (and even from home, occasionally), but he also does a LOT of traveling for his PhD studies.  He’ll be gone for anywhere from ten days to twelve weeks at a time.  The traveling can be difficult for him, with frequent travels through international airports (and their security), sleeping on couches at friends’ houses, and eating out every day (which he hates doing).  I’ve also witnessed how it has affected our children.

It’s hard on us when our husbands have to leave on business (or TDY), but it can even be harder on the kids.  When kids are young, they have little or no concept of time.  Saying “daddy will be home in ten days” or something along those lines just doesn’t register with them.  The first time my husband left us to do some PhD work at his university (in another country), he was gone for over two months.  Ten weeks?  Seventy days?  How was I supposed to explain this?  My four year old could only count to twenty!  Fortunately, I have a dear friend who was stationed overseas a couple of years ago, and during that time, her husband was deployed three times.  Her kids were also very young at the time, and she gave me some very helpful advice to get me and the kids through those very difficult weeks away.

Make a “daddy” book: Create a mini photo album filled with pictures of dad playing and interacting with the kids.  Let the kids carry them around, or prop it up next to their bed at night, so daddy’s right there with them. Some parents have put pictures of their spouses on the kids’ pillowcases (which you can order from Snapfish).

“Count” down the days until dad gets home: Whenever my husband leaves, whether it be for a few days or weeks, we create a Jellybean Countdown Container.  As you can probably guess, we take an old jar and fill it with jellybeans, and the number of treats corresponds with the number of days that my husband is gone.  The kids get one jellybean out of the jar every day, and that way, they know that daddy’s coming home when the jar is empty!

Let the kids use things that smell like dad: I would let my son use dad’s cologne if he wanted to smell like daddy.  Just dab a little on his wrist or spray his shirt, and he was good to go.  I, too, would occasionally use his cologne, spray one of his flannel shirts, and sleep in it at night.

Give them “kisses” from daddy: As an extra comfort measure, I would fill a jar with Hershey’s Kisses and place it on top of the counter.  Any time the kids got hurt or really sad, they would get a “kiss” from dad.

Skype before bed: If your husband’s involved with the kids’ bedtime routines, arrange for him to call around bedtime.  He can tell the kids a story (or, in our case, my son can tell HIM a story), sing them a song, etc.  If your husband is in a place where he can’t do this, have him record a few videos reading the kids’ favorite books.  Then, play the videos at night so daddy can read them a story before bed.

Does your husband travel a lot for work?  How do you handle this time in your house?

Related posts:

Trina’s post about being a (temporary) single mom

Keeping Sane When Both You AND Your Husband Are Home Long-Term

by Christy on September 30, 2009
category: Finances,Husbands and Dads,Practical Tips,Uncategorized

couple laughing About three months ago, the negative effects of the recession hit our home when my husband got laid-off.  After the initial shock and fears of wondering how we were going to survive, we settled into a new reality.  I was terribly worried that my husband and I were going to drive each other crazy being around each other 24/7 with no breaks.  Surprisingly, this time has strengthened our relationship and our individual faiths. 

I thought I would share a few of the things we have done to stay sane:

Take turns sleeping in!  While I have taken my share (plus a few extra) of mornings sleeping in, I also try to let him get some days “off” from the early morning (and I mean VERY early) kid duties.

Get out of the house at least every other day!  Staying at home gets boring and boredom brings on depression and aggitation.  Getting out of the house frequently helps stave off some of the crankies.  We have made many trips to Target, Toys R Us, and other local stores just to browse to get everyone out of the house.

Play games together!   While it’s next to impossible to play actual board games with kids in the house, we have taken to playing online Scrabble and other games against each other.  The advantages of these online games are that you can take your time playing, come back to it and play when you want/can, and you don’t have to worry about game pieces being shoved into little noses!

Wives, don’t nag!  At first I didn’t realize that to my husband, my asking questions about his job search as often as I did was nagging.  It’s ok to inquire about phone calls or progress, just not on a daily basis.  And by all means, DO NOT look for a job for him unless he asks you to or has given you “permission”.  Many guys feel emasuclated when their wives do their “work” for them. 

Pray together!  We  pray together over potential jobs, our finances and our children.  Like Dawn has been saying in the past two Abiding Mondays posts, prayer calms anxiety.  When I get anxious, it helps me to pray with my husband.  I find comfort in knowing he is standing with me during the troubling times.

And lastly, just remember that it won’t last forever.  The right job will come along.  Your life will get back to the normal you have always known!

Have you or someone you know closely gone through this type of situation?  What did you do to stay sane?  What tips do you have for families in this transitional time?

Photo Courtesy of Moomettesgram

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