The Challenge of Step family Life -a response - 5/28/99

owner-smartmarriages owner-smartmarriages
Fri May 28 16:19:13 EDT 1999

from: Smart Marriages

Dear CMFCE, 
I thought this one was so powerful that I asked her if I could share it 
with you.

Greetings Diane,
I am glad you feel my letter might be helpful enough to include on this 
forum and I give you my permission to share this with the list, but 
without my name, please.  My husband's position is also to give 
permission to share it.  He says that if one woman or one man would be 
helped from making a terrible decision, it would be worth it.  Fighting 
for marriage and the family are that important to us now.  

Dear Dr. Doherty,

I read your essay which was posted on the smart marriages list, and while 
I really enjoy writing, I am struggling with something more profound to 
say then, Wow!

I seem to take more of an interest now in reading about the dynamics and 
complications of step family relationships because I was too close to 
being involved in one myself.  My husband and I were separated for two 
years.  The second full year we filed for divorce, and when the court 
system required us to make the deal final or start all over again, we 
decided to give reconciliation one last try.  The reason, only because we 
didn't want to subject our children to the step family life.  

This picture of the future struggles, helped me to turn a corner in my 
own therapy.   I had to decide whether or not to end a relationship, and 
a potential new step family to consider reconciliation.   On the one 
side, I had the moral choice; on the other my feelings.  Even though the 
dating stage of the new relationship offered all the excitement of new 
hope, it was obvious that the dynamics of a new and different male figure 
for my children was never going to be rosy....ever.  When I most 
struggled with the indecision of reconciliation or moving forward with a 
new relationship, my therapist asked me this one question.  "When you 
think about all the future major events in your children's life....their 
graduations, their weddings, holidays, vacations etc.  On a scale of 1 to 
10, 1 meaning not at all and 10 meaning more then anything else, how much 
do you want to share those times with your husband.  I believe that while 
she might have been trying to gage where I felt in order to know which 
way to council me, that question hit me like a ton of bricks and I didn't 
even pause to think about it before I blurted out '8'.  

The road to recovery was not easy, because what I did was to leave a new 
relationship that was in the very exiting time of newness specifically to 
try and reconcile a dead relationship.  Not an easy journey to say the 
least.  There were a lot of times in the beginning that I had to refer to 
a sticky note that I had placed everywhere....'Hang on to what you know 
to be true, and NOT how you feel."  I knew the truth was that staying 
together was the best for all of us and it still takes hard work every 
day. It's not like I don't have any regrets of where I have been.  But if 
I could just tell one woman who is feeling discontented with her 
circumstances, who feels like things will never be any different with her 
husband, and who believes the only way to achieve any happiness at all is 
to go find another man, to some of these step family stories, 
picture your daughter or sons wedding being complicated with where is 
everyone going to sit, and think about your children waking up in the 
middle of the night with a fever crying for their Mommy only you are not 
there because it's not your turn.  Maybe all that bad could be used for 
something good.  

I know that everyone always says don't stay together just for the kids, 
but unless there is serious abuse, why not?  They are our most precious 
gifts from God.  As soon as we could only focus on the welfare of the 
children and make them our first and only priority, the fog began to 
lift. I know we made the right decision for so many reasons.  When I read 
stories like you posted, it reminds me all over again of the victory of 
our success.   Oh, and did I mention the love affair I am now 
experiencing with my husband and children is unbelievable.  The rewards 
of our decision are much more than the satisfaction that we made the 
'moral' choice.

Thank you, for your work to strengthen families.  You must be a great 

"Around the Coalition" shares information on marriage and divorce and on 
skills-based educational approaches.  Opinions expressed are not 
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