This part two in our series for stepmoms. Click here for part 1-Our Measure.
I once heard Dr. Laura Schlessinger say love is about 30% of a marriage. Being a romantic I thought surely it was more than that, but when you look at a marriage realistically, you find that Dr. Laura and the song by Patty Smyth are right, “Baby, sometimes love just ain’t enough”. You would think that in a second marriage we’d be a little wiser with our hearts but that really isn’t the case. The heart falls in love the same way it always does and the head needs to be the voice of reason. There are some good reasons to postpone or walk away from a potential partner even when you love them.
Look for the warning signals and listen to your gut. Are either of you too involved with ex’s? Be real here, where there are children involved, there are going to be conversations, I’m talking about being too involved. Does the ex have keys to the place? Are family dinners still taking place and are holidays still spent together? Having you come into the scene might be a really confusing thing to a child whose parent has moved out but everything else looks like a family to them. That will create a war with you and the child and it will not be pretty. Is the ex couple still at war? There are no wars when it’s not personal anymore.
Do you agree with parenting styles? This will be the number 1 debate in a second marriage. Do you agree with his parenting style? Does he agree with yours? Is he constantly in court fighting over custody? Ask yourself, do you want to be a part of that? Are you financially equipped to handle that? Does the amount of money it costs to raise the children going to be an issue for you? Will there be things one set of kids will be able to afford to do, say summer camps or luxury gifts, that the other set of kids will not be afforded the opportunity to do? How will this affect your household? Be honest!
Now look at the blame game. Is his divorce all his ex’s fault? Has he claimed to have no control over his life whatsoever? Did everything just happen to him without his participation? This is the mind of a victim thinker and you walk into this relationship knowing that fact. Then ask yourself if you have accepted your responsibility in the demise of your marriage as well? Are you playing the victim?
Often when we see someone who we feel is a victim we tend to think we can fix it for them. We think we can make it all better and they will love us forever for making it all go away. We neglect to think about what happens to the relationship, and the changes it will go through, once one or both of you become whole again.
A second marriage is different in that it brings on added stresses and realizations. This isn’t just about the usual questions of money, career and how many children you want to have. No, the issues in second marriages are even greater than that. I believe that most often we ignore all the other issues that go with a second marriage and we neglect that we are bringing with us baggage that just doesn’t exist in a first marriage.
In my honest opinion I don’t think anyone should go into a first marriage with someone who is on their second marriage, if there are children involved. It’s way too complicated and best left alone. The heartache I’ve experienced in these situations just are too much to bear.
What happens if you are reading this but you are already married and living out a nightmare? Can it be repaired? The great news is it can. It will require serious work. You’ll both have to get some therapy and go through a lot of self-examination, letting some dreams go, letting some control go and have a lot of patience and grace, as you wade through this. Are you willing to do the work? Are you willing to do some changing? I’m praying that you are.