My husband, Randy, and I celebrate 18 years of marriage this year. If you read my blog often, you know it hasn’t all been blissful.
I’ll never forget the night Randy called me from a hotel room and said he wasn’t coming home that night. We had been married less than a year and we were struggling as we attempted to blend our four children. I realized the truth of his words, “It just isn’t working Gayla.”
We had had an argument early that evening over the kids and he couldn’t deal with the tension any longer. We both began to question if our marriage could stand the stress of stepfamily life: grasping at how to parent together, coping with difficult ex-spouses, dealing with the rejection of stepparenting, accepting the crazy schedule that left little time for a couple relationship, along with the grind of everyday life.
We had a decision to make: would we fight to keep going or would we call it quits before we gave it a fair chance?
Neither Randy nor I wanted another divorce. We had walked that road and still felt the remnants of pain and failure. We knew we could make it work – but we needed help.
We began seeing a counselor who addressed the difficulty of our stepfamily dynamics. He also confronted us with the unresolved baggage we were carrying and the role each of us was playing in the tension-filled home we lived in. It was painful and heart-wrenching at times, but we began seeing improvements in our marriage and stepparenting interactions.
We also found a stepfamily support group in a nearby church that was studying literature and Scripture specific to stepfamilies. It was a sacrifice to make the weekly meetings, but it was critical to our growth as we integrated with other stepparents and found healthy ways to unite our four children.
Eighteen years later, those difficult days of early blended- family life blur in the rear-view mirror. I wouldn’t want to re-live them, but they are part of our stepfamily memories, reminding us how far our family has come.
We have only one child still at home – it’s the only child Randy and I have together. And I must admit – life is simpler, life is less stressful, life is calmer.
But marriage is not all bliss, even at this stage. Our struggles are seldom tied to stepparenting or difficult ex-spouses now, but we still encounter stressful periods. We have just come through a tumultuous period that put tremendous weight on our marriage. But our commitment of years’ past pulled us through our non-blissful days.
I have a renewed commitment to my marriage. I recognize the short-lived season of child-rearing. And when all our children leave home, I want a thriving marriage.
So, where are you on your marital journey? Are you plunging through the difficult years of early stepfamily life? Can you recognize the growth your family has made through stepfamily challenges?
Are you focusing on your non-blissful days or striving to make the best of whatever season you’re in, committed to the long run of your marriage?
How do you cope with non-blissful days of marriage? Will you share your thoughts?