Here’s my latest blog post for eHarmony: Bonus Parents!
I was on a flight a few weeks ago and couldn’t help but overhear the conversation going on behind me. Two men were talking and covering all the normal bases … Where are you headed? Where is home? Where do you work? What do you do? … and then the conversation ultimately turned to more personal topics. One guy asked the other, “Do you have kids?” I loved his response. He said, “I have two kids organically and three by merger.”
I love it! How “business appropriate.” They were speaking a language each could understand and relate to. I thought it was cute!
About a week later, I was speaking with a woman at a meeting who mentioned that her son calls her husband his “bonus-dad” as opposed to his “step-dad.” Also cute! What a great concept to refer to someone who technically isn’t his “real” dad as his “bonus” dad! It says so much about the bond they share and the important role he plays in his son’s life.
But, underneath these cute and unusual responses is a very real situation panning out in homes across the country every day. Stepparents play a huge and important role in the lives of the kids they are parenting. Stereotypically, we hear too much about the “evil step mom” or the “absent step dad” when really the women and men who step into these roles are so incredibly important.
Being a “bonus” parent isn’t a part-time job. It requires the ability to step into a routine that is typically already established, into norms that are already ritualized, into expectations that are already set, and blend into those norms without totally disrupting the natural rhythms of how things operate. It requires a sensitive blend of understanding how things work between the “real” parents, and being able to infuse some of his or her own personality into the mix of the parenting equation. Above all else, it requires being able to find comfort and satisfaction in being that “bonus” parent and carving out a unique role that builds a special bond between child, parent, “bonus” child, and spouse!
I have to say that I am so thankful for my husband and the “bonus” dad role he plays to my two teenagers. I will never forget when he told my kids that he had asked me to marry him. He asked their permission to be their step dad, and said, “You have a great dad, and I’m not trying to replace him, but I would certainly love to be your step dad. What do you think?” Five years later, I look at the bond he has created with my two kids, now teenagers, and I am so thankful for the way he has integrated into our lives, while still being respectful of honoring their “real” dad and their “bonus” mom. It takes a special man to be able to embrace all of these “additional” relationships. He thought he was getting a “wife.” Instead, he also got step kids, an ex, a step mom, new family, extended family, ex-family, a history, traditions, baggage, etc.
Being a bonus parent is hard work. I look at my husband, and at so many of my friends, both men and women, who have stepped into “bonus” parent roles. I look at people who have lovingly embraced all of their children, whether they occurred organically or via merger, and I am so grateful for their hearts that are capable of loving their “bonus” kids so fully.
Sometimes this requires an extra dose of “grace” as people unfamiliar with “bonus” parenting, and the extra pressure it frequently brings, ask silly, naïve, and frankly “stupid” questions about how it works. “Does he tuck the kids in at night when they are at your house?” “Does she make them do chores when they visit like she makes her own kids?” “How does it work when his kids come and visit? Do you let her call her ‘real’ mom?” Seriously people?
Bonus parents just make it work! They don’t get caught up in the “us and them,” but rather, they relish the “ours.”
As we take extra time this season to focus on what we are thankful for, I would like to say “thanks” to all the “bonus” parents out there who have stepped into the role and embraced it with all their heart, soul and might. I would like to thank my husband for recognizing that when he pursued me, he was actually pursuing an instant family! Talk about a “bonus!” He got three for the price of one! That beats any Cyber Monday deal out there
Have you thought about step-parenting and do you think you would be up for the challenge?
Wrong Pond? Thrilled to be asked by DatingAdvice.com to provide some perspective! Here’s an excerpt from the article I wrote!
I had lunch with a friend last week who was telling me about her latest round of dates. She felt the men she was meeting were all the same. Either they were copies of each other (same background, same look, same personality, even down to driving the same car), or they were literally the same man (different dating site/same man. He’s certainly covering his bases!) She was frustrated and wanted to break this cycle. I suggested to her that if she is always fishing in the same pond, she will always be catching the same fish. …
If you want to read the whole thing, click here … DatingAdvice.com
My latest posted in Family Share magazine! Stop Feeling Like a Failure
“I feel like such a failure,” she cried. “I hate telling people I’m divorced. It just makes me sound like a failure, and I hate failing. It makes me sound like I couldn’t make my marriage work. I hate the stigma.”
Wow! She was really getting negative on herself, and although I tried to talk some sense into her, I did understand where she was coming from. I, too, struggled with the stigma of divorce. I didn’t like feeling like I had failed at my marriage. I hated the fact that I was just another statistic in the divorce archives. I felt like my marriage deserved to be more special than that — but in the end, it wasn’t.
Yes, perhaps our marriages did fail. We are now divorced. We are a statistic. But, that doesn’t mean we are failures — at all. In fact, it is what we do with that failure that ultimately determines what we gain from that experience. I argue that failing, and not learning anything from it, is a failure on your part. I would argue that failing, and learning every lesson you can from it so that you don’t fail again next time, is the ultimate show of tenacity, perseverance and success.
Own it. Your divorce is part of your story. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t shy away from it, or from sharing that fact with others. A friend of mine has a young daughter who hated her red curly hair and freckles. Early on, my friend encouraged her daughter to own it. She said, you can let people see that these things get to you, and others will feel that and react to it as well, or you can own it and make it a valuable part of who you are that you fully embrace. People will feel your confidence. What a difference that positive approach has made for this girl.
Own your divorce, don’t try to shy away from the fact that you have been through the divorce process. I have often found that once I share the fact that I am divorced, others with whom I am speaking will jump in and add, “Me too!” and appear almost relieved that they can share that fact openly without any judgments being made.
Learn from it. A failure is only a failure if you keep on doing the same things, and never look at that failure as an opportunity to learn about yourself, and change things up a bit. Don’t let your divorce lead you down a dead-end street where you feel stuck with no place to go. Instead, let your divorce become a detour. I have found some of the most interesting finds (views, restaurants, cute shops) when I have been forced to take a detour while driving. Apply that to your life as well. Make your detour an opportunity to learn something new, find someone new, become a new you.
Redirect it. What a shame if you go through something as painful as a divorce and don’t take advantage of that opportunity to reflect back on what you might do differently or do better next time. And, if given the opportunity for a do-over or a second chance, how fun to be able to implement those things on which you reflected. I know I am doing things differently with my second chance and this has proven to be the most amazing detour. Redirect your own perception. Instead of crying, “Life will never be good again,” say, “I can’t wait to see what Life 2.0 brings me.” Instead of lamenting, “I will never be happy again,” ask, “What can I do, or where can I go, or what can I learn that will bring me joy?” Instead of letting adversity bring you down, use that experience to raise you up. Change your perception from one of dead-end to one of opportunity and see what life brings you.
Richard Branson said, “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” What have you learned from your divorce? More importantly, have you started again? There IS hope after divorce. It’s not a failure. It’s an experience in your unique story. Own it!
eHarmony – August 2013
“Love is when you think you can change someone, but they end up changing you.” ~ Jessica Lawis
I spoke with someone the other day who was gushing about how serious she is getting with her boyfriend. She thinks he is “the one!” She pulled out her iPhone to show me a photo of him. Then, instead of showing me a photo of a face, she shoved the phone in front of me and demanded, “Can you believe this?” “Believe what?” I responded. I was confused. All I saw in the photo was a pair of shoes – not the handsome face I expected to see!
“Do you see these shoes? Do you like them? He cannot wear these shoes,” she fired off in rapid succession. “These are shoes you only wear with skinny jeans. He wore them with regular jeans and it’s wrong. He can’t do that again.”
Whoa! Slow down! How did we get from he’s “the one” to “he can’t wear these” in just one brief conversation? For a brief moment, I thought she was joking. But, she was dead serious.
I asked her if he treated her well? Yes! Was he kind? Yes! Was he respectful? Yes! Did he make her laugh? Yes! Was he a gentleman? Yes! Did he treat his family and friends well? Yes! Did he care for his community? Yes! Did he allow her to be herself? Yes! “So,” I asked, “If he is all that (and presumably more), then why in the world does it matter if he wears those shoes?” “It doesn’t matter if he wears those shoes,” she said, exasperated, “It’s just that he can only wear them with skinny jeans.”
Oh boy. She is in for a world of stress (and perhaps even heartbreak) if she is going to let the kind of shoes he wears become such an issue for her. Clearly, she is a bit of a control freak (you think?), and there was an element of, “I can change certain things about him, and then he will be perfect.” Both are dangerous spots to be in!
On the “control freak” side … let it go. Pick your battles. Seriously, if his biggest flaw is that he wears the wrong shoes with the wrong pants, then be happy. Sure, you can gently suggest the “right” style and see if he “gets it.” It might even be fun to take him shopping for the “right” skinny jeans, but don’t let your blood pressure shoot through the roof when he wears the wrong combination. Call him cute, call him goofy, and love him for it! Embrace it; don’t fight it!
On the “I can change him” side … no, you can’t! You may think you can, but ultimately you can’t, and you will hurt yourself (and potentially your relationship) trying. You can make suggestions. You can try to influence. But you can’t change him. Only he can choose to change. Too many people get into relationships and find little things that they would like to change about their partners. They think, “This is cute,” or “This isn’t that big of a deal,” and “I can change this,” and they move forward. But, at some point, cute becomes annoying, and what wasn’t a big deal becomes a monster issue, and nobody has changed, and now refuses to change … and it becomes a deal breaker.
I know it’s easier said than done, but worry about yourself, and what you can control, as opposed to trying to control someone else. Focus on what you would like to change, or should change, about yourself, as opposed to trying to change someone else.
I told this woman: He is who he is and he’s an entire package. You either like him or you don’t. You either accept him as he is, or you don’t. Sure, you might try to tweak a little thing here or there, but be sure those things you “tweak” are relatively inconsequential to you in the big scheme of things. If they make your blood pressure skyrocket, and become monstrous issues in the relationship, it might be time to rethink the urge to control and the desire to change.
What do you think? Did you have a “wrong shoes/wrong jeans” issue in a relationship? What happened? How did you “fix” it?
My latest for eHarmony — August 2013:
Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, but falling in love with you I had no control over.”
I was bumping around Facebook the other night, and I came across a post which one of my friends “Liked.” The title peaked my curiosity and I clicked on the link (My Husband is Not My Soul Mate). I really liked the article and thought the author, a woman named Hannah, did a really great job presenting her perspective (and I love her writing style!).
Her perspective is this: She doesn’t believe that there is any “one person” for you to find and marry. Rather, she believes that you can have a great marriage with any number of people. But, she continues, once you marry that person, then that person does indeed become your “one person.” She dismisses the notion that (as we are often led to believe as a society) there is indeed one special person out there waiting for us to find them (or vice versa), and that it is Divine Intervention that brings us together.
She asks a great question: If we credit Divine Intervention with bringing two people together, then what happens when 50%+ of first marriages end in divorce? Instead, she writes about how her marriage is based on her choice to love her husband daily, not a master plan.
As a divorced woman, many of Hannah’s points resonated with me. If I believe that my first husband was my soul mate (and why marry him if I didn’t), and that Divine Intervention brought us together, then how do you explain our divorce 17 years later? Did Divine Intervention get tired of keeping us together? No, not at all. Rather, choices were made that created an environment where we didn’t continue to intentionally focus on loving each other every day. Not surprisingly, divorce followed.
If I look back at my life, I would say I have been in romantic love three times. Is my current husband my soul mate? According to Hannah, no. According to Hannah, there might have been many men who I could have married, but what is important is that I chose my current husband and he chose me. He is now my “one person” and I am now his “one person.” Now it’s up to me/us to “choose” to make our marriage work each and every day. I am still surprised by our compatibility. We think alike. We talk alike. We have the same energy. That being said, we also have tremendous differences. These could be viewed as irritants or deal breakers, or we can instead choose to embrace those changes and be thankful that we aren’t clones of each other. Those differences allow us each to introduce the other to new things, new experiences, and new ways of thinking.
To me, that’s the important takeaway! Marriage is a choice, and marriage is hard work. Take the time during dating to be sure that you are ready and willing to make that commitment. Make sure you are willing to make the choice that he or she will become your “one person” and that you are willing to put the hard work into making your relationship work.
To Hannah’s point, maybe you should quit feeling the pressure to find your soul mate. Instead, try searching for that person who you are able to intentionally choose to become your “one person” who is right for you. And then, make the choice to love that person each and every day. It takes hard work. There will be ups and downs. There will be similarities that bring you together, and differences that threaten to tear you apart. But, if you focus on recognizing that this was your choice, then you realize that you control the rest of the story!
What do you think? Do soul mates exist? Why do we drive ourselves crazy trying to find our soul mate? Is there more than one great person out there for each of us to find, date and marry?
Here’s my latest for Huffington Post – Parents! (Don’t) Call Me Mommy!
When last summer’s hit song “Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen) came out, I would break into my own freelance version and start singing “Call Me Mommy” every time we heard it on the radio. I could improv the lines to talk about doing laundry, driving carpool, helping with homework, making dinner, driving more carpool… and always end with, “So, Call Me Mommy!” I even had the vision for the music video where the kids are in the back of my SUV popping up and dancing like the baseball players from Harvard in the van, or the U.S. Olympic swim team on the airplane in their respective music videos! We all got a good laugh out of it and competed to create the best lines!
What isn’t as funny is when my husband calls me mommy. This has got to stop! It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. It’s not just me. I hear many of my friends’ husbands calling them mommy, too. It’s not new. I recall my dad referring to my mother as “mom.” In fact, if I remember correctly, I think my first husband used to call me “mom” too. What’s up with this?
To be clear, I’m not talking about when a dad tells the kids, “Go ask Mom.” That’s fine. It’s not as if he should say, “Go ask my wife.” That would sound awkward. But, for example, let’s say a husband can’t find his car keys, and yells, “Mom, where are my keys?” or when the family is talking about where to go to dinner, and Dad says, “Mom, where do you want to go?” (when his mother lives in a retirement community in Phoenix and there is no way she would be able to make it to dinner in Baltimore that night!). Weird!
I tell my husband, “I’m not your mom! I’m your wife, your lover, your best friend, your confidante, your room-mate, your soul-mate, your partner in crime… but I am not your mom! I may be the mother of your children, but I am not your mother. Even if sometimes I feel as if I am acting like your mom, or sometimes if you feel as if I am acting like your mom, we all know that I am really not your mom!”
When I pointed this out to several husbands recently, they excused their behavior by saying, “It’s only a pet name… like sweetheart or honey… it’s just a loving nickname.” Perhaps, but do you know the feeling that “Mom” elicits? Most moms hear “Mom, Mommy, Mom, Ma, Mama, Momma, Mom…!!!” thousands of times a day. Mom, do this; Mom, do that; Mom, I need this; Mom, drive me here; Mom, what’s for dinner; Mom, the dog had an accident on the rug again; Mom, I need to start my science fair project (and it’s due tomorrow!); Mom, Mom, Mom! “Mom” means wiping runny noses, making yet another PB&J, giving butterfly kisses to skinned knees, washing smelly football pants, buying more pimple medication and on and on! “Sweetheart” or “Honey” (or whatever other nickname you want to fill in there) means va, va voom and dot dot dot!
When your lover walks into your house, the last thing any woman wants to hear come out of his mouth is “Hi, Mom, how was your day?!” “Mom” does not equal romance and sex! Picture this… candles, wine, canoodling, and sweet nothings being whispered in your ear, and then you hear, “Oh Mom… you are so hot… I love you so much!” ck! OK, this has NEVER happened to me, but you get the picture!
Husbands, trust me, leave “Mom” for the kids to use. Find your own special name for that wonderful woman in your life. After all, you married your wife, not your mother!
By the way, somebody needs to steal my idea and make a spoof on Carly Rae’s song and name it “Call Me Mommy!” I bet it would be an instant YouTube sensation!
My latest from eHarmony … Hook, Line & Sinker
August 22, 2013
“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” ~ John Buchan
Back in February, I spoke with a friend who told me that she was struggling with the dating scene. She felt as if she was hanging around the same people over and over again. She wanted to meet someone new. I didn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for her situation, and merely suggested, “If you are always fishing in the same pond, you are always going to be catching the same fish.” Period. End of story. She chuckled as she clearly knew what I meant, but I wasn’t sure that she was inspired to go find any new ponds in which to fish. She was very comfortable in her current pond. She knew what to expect out of her current pond. It was predictable and safe. Going to find new ponds would take her outside of her comfort zone. It might induce a bit of anxiety to visit a new pond. For many people, it’s human nature to avoid making ourselves uncomfortable and pushing outside of our comfort zones.
I told this friend that no one said fishing in new ponds was going to be easy. Some may not be stocked with the kind of fish she wants. Others will be full of great fish! The challenge is that she will never know which situation she will encounter if she doesn’t at least try fishing in a new pond. The old adage, “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” makes all the sense in the world.
I was out with a different set of friends a few weeks ago when talk turned to dates – the good, the bad and the ugly, and as the conversation went around it turns out that two of the women had gone out with the same guy. Kind of awkward! Talk about the need to find some new ponds! Nobody wants to someone else’s “catch and release!” These friends told me that there weren’t enough ponds in our area. They tell me that I have access to lots of different ponds because I work outside the home, I travel for business, and I am involved in several community associations. They tell me that since they are stay-at-home moms or since they have “jobs” and not “careers” that they don’t have access to the same number of ponds. I call bull on that! We all have multiple ponds within our own little bubbles. We just have to think about it, let go of what’s comfortable, grab our rod and reel, and head out!
Instead of always fishing in the “work” pond, or the “Friday-night bar-scene” pond, switch it up and also fish in the “volunteer at the animal shelter” pond or the “local community college digital photography course” pond every now and then. Ask others what has worked for them. Step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. You have heard this before, but have you done anything about it? Have you really tried it and given it your best effort? Or, did you try one “different” pond outside of your usual routine, have a really bad time, and then decide never to do that again? Intellectually, we all know this makes sense, but putting it into action can often be tougher. Great dates aren’t just going to show up on your front porch. You have to be visible to let people know you are available. You have to be out there meeting people – and meeting new people – to stand a chance of catching new fish.
I also think it helps if you go in with the attitude that you are just fishing for fun, and not with expectations that you are going to catch the biggest fish ever and win the whole fishing tournament! Too much pressure! I think the fish can pick up on that vibe from a mile away. It’s like one of those sparkly, spinning lures that are supposed to attract fish, when really the fish are smart enough to realize what it is. Those fish wait for the natural bait to come along, and then they get hooked!
While I’m using this fishing analogy, here is one other thought: you also have to know when to cut bait and move on. I talk with too many women who continue to date someone even though they know “he isn’t the one” and “there is no future.” How are you going to catch new fish if your line is already in use? Cut bait, rehook your line, and head back to the pond again.
By the way, my friend did visit a new pond. She didn’t jump in the boat and row right into the middle to drop her line in the water. She merely approached, stood off to the side, and looked around the pond. She didn’t even come prepared with her fishing rod. You know what? She caught a keeper…and that’s no fish tale!
What’s your fish tale? Did you have success in a new pond?
Sharing my Kids!?! – Here’s my latest post for DivorcedMoms!
Can you relate? Here’s what I read recently … “Letting him go is one thing, but sharing my kids with another woman… that I cannot do. Fine, if he’s gone. I’ll get over that. Fine if he left me for another woman. I’ll get over that. But, there is no way in heck I am going to let another woman, especially that woman, parent my children. Never! Ever! They’re mine.”
Wow! I understand this train of thought. I think almost every mom who has someone else step into that “mom-like” role with her kids feels some version of this at some point.
Who can parent (mother) my kids as well as I can?
How come she gets to spend some time with my children when I want to be with them all the time?
I didn’t sign up to be a part-time mom so that some other woman could spend the other half of their time with them. I don’t want her influencing my kids. I don’t want her touching my kids.
Let’s keep this train of thought going … I don’t want her soothing them back to sleep at night when they are having nightmares. I don’t want her to put on the band-aid when my son’s knee gets scraped. I don’t want her talking with my daughter about boys and dating. I don’t want her to go to their sporting events. I don’t want her to have any fun with them.
Seriously? That means that when your son falls and scrapes his knee and you aren’t there that you would prefer no one comfort him?
That means when your daughter is experiencing teenage boy drama that you want her to be crying alone in her room?
That means when your kids have sporting events that you want them to feel guilt or angst as they look in the stands to see who is cheering them on?
That means you don’t want them to have any fun with her. That feels kind of selfish, doesn’t it?
I was listening to our local morning radio show yesterday, and one of the DJ’s said she never intended to have any children. She’s 30, and one of the other DJ’s asked her why. Her first answer was because she knows she is not “self-less” enough to have kids. I liked her honesty.
She said she knows that you can’t be selfish once you have kids, and she said she doesn’t see that happening as she likes her life the way it is. Kudos to her for being self-aware enough to know this about herself, and for being brave enough to articulate it (especially in a society that often doesn’t support women who intentionally choose not to have kids).
She’s right. As parents, I believe we do have to become less selfish. It’s not all about us anymore, but rather many of our actions and our decisions have to do with what is in the best interests of our children.
Often, what is in their best interests can feel in conflict with what we want or what we believe is in our best interests. When this happens, do we go with what we want, or with what we know is best for our kids? It can frequently seem like a tough choice.
You may not want your children to have any exposure or to spend any time with “that woman,” but the reality is that it is going to happen.
You can’t stop it.
Why make it miserable and difficult for them? Think about the ramifications. Your children may feel guilty if they know you hate her, when they actually think she is nice. Guilt is not a positive emotion.
Do you want to create an atmosphere where you are responsible for setting up a negative relationship? Do you want to perpetuate the “evil-Step-Mom” scenario, and create needless drama?
I am a huge advocate of putting differences aside, and putting the best interests of the kids at the forefront of the relationship. You may not like her, but you presumably do have common ground in looking out for the kids.
Make that your platform.
Learn to embrace the fact that there is another maternal figure that is there to care for your kids when you can’t be there. A simple change of perspective can be really enlightening.
As difficult as it may be, make sure you do all you can to open those lines of communication as it relates to the kids. The kids will see this, and benefit from it. It helps to put all “parents” on the same page with respect to rules and expectations. The ability to play one parent against the other diminishes when the kids know that the parents talk about them.
Nobody says you have to become BFF’s with the other woman (be it your ex-‘s girlfriend or his new wife), but you should dive deep into your heart to let go of your own anger and selfishness, and consider what is truly in the best interests of your precious children.
Here’s my latest published in LA Family! August 13, 2013 … I Want to Know Why!
“There’s more to getting to where you’re going then just knowing there’s a road.”
~ Joan Lowery Nixon, In the Face of Danger
I met a woman the other day whose husband recently told her that he wants a divorce. She feels as if the carpet has been pulled out from under her, and she’s still trying to keep it all together for the sake of her kids, yet she’s fearful, angry, scared, and lonely. I remember that period and I hated it. My heart breaks for her.
We talked for a couple of hours. As you can imagine, it was a circular discussion — two steps forward, one step backward, as she tried to figure out proactively what she needed to do next, yet simultaneously becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of it all and the realization that her marriage was indeed over.
“I just want to know why.” was the one statement she kept repeating over and over. “I just want to know why he left … I just want to know what happened … I just want to know what went wrong …I just want to know when he made up his mind that he was leaving.”
I remember being in that same place of wanting answer for questions that really didn’t have concrete answers. This isn’t as simple as “Why was the baseball game canceled? Because it was storming outside,” or “Why are we not going on our family vacation? Because we spent our vacation fund putting an addition on the house.” Those questions have answers. You may not like the answers, but they are answers nonetheless.
There isn’t always such a clear answer to the “I just want to know why our marriage is over” question, and I think frequently we focus too much on trying to find that answer. We get sucked into finding an answer to that question. This woman was spending so much time searching for answers to “why” that she wasn’t moving forward with “now what.” She was at an absolute standstill. At the end of the day, the “why” was that her husband was having an affair and wanted to spend the rest of his life with the other woman, but that didn’t satisfy her need to know “why” at deeper levels. Her “whys” focused more on “why did this start, why did he keep seeing her, why did he love her more, why did he lose interest in their marriage …” and on and on.
Would it be great to have answers to all these open questions when we find ourselves faced with a marriage that is ending and a pending divorce? Yes, probably! It’s always nice to be able to tie things up in a neat little bow and have everything accounted for. Is it realistic? Absolutely not! Is it dangerous to focus on getting these answers? Most likely, yes!
I asked this woman whether anything would really change if she knew the answers to her multiple questions of “I just want to know why?” Would anything truly change if her husband were able to answer these questions? Would it make her feel better? Would it soothe the hurt that she was feeling? Or, would it simply exacerbate the situation? Would she become obsessed with finding the antidote to his reasoning? Would she lay awake rehashing what she could have / would have / should have done differently?
Sometimes we really don’t need to have the answers to every question. Sometimes we just need to move forward with faith that things will get better, and we need to spend our energy focusing on moving things forward with positive momentum. Sometimes we need to find peace in our heart to accept that we aren’t always going to understand why things happen.
I pray that this woman finds the peace to let go of her search for answers as to “why” her marriage ended. Note, this is different from asking questions to learn, improve and grow from this experience. This is different from not finding your own accountability in the process of divorce (see my prior HopeAfterDivorce.com post Accountability). This is about not becoming stuck in the search for answers to unanswerable questions to the detriment of moving forward positively. This takes time; trust me, I get that. It’s all part of the healing process. But, at some point we need to stop asking 12 levels of “why,” stop focusing on the “if only” and the “what if’,” and instead begin to focus on our own healing.
What about you? Are you stuck in the “why” zone? Are you asking questions that have no real, tangible answers? Are you at a standstill because you keep telling yourself that once you find these answers then you will be ready to move forward? Do you really believe that?
Here’s my latest from eHarmony … Comfortable!
“When you stop being nervous is when you should retire. I’m always a little nervous for anything I do because when complacency sets in, that’s when I feel it’s time to move on to something else.” ~ Chris Jericho
Justin and I have been married for four years. We aren’t as “cautious” and “careful” around each other as when we were first dating. In fact, we aren’t as “considerate” of each other as when we first met. We are definitely more “comfortable” around each other – as we should be! The level of formality in place when you are first dating is necessarily replaced with a different comfort level as your relationship progresses and when you marry.
When you are first dating, you are on your best behavior. Bad habits are hidden. You usually try to look your best, act your best, talk your best, and be your best at all times! You are attentive. You go out of your way to do small things for each other. And you certainly hide your “bad habits” – those things that your mom taught you to never do it public! When you are first dating, your manners are impeccable. You wouldn’t dream of belching or farting in front of each other. That would be horribly embarrassing! You never answer your iPhone at the dinner table. How rude! You never keep each other waiting. How disrespectful!
As your relationship progresses, however, you start to become more comfortable with other, and that, I argue, can be simultaneously a very good thing, and a very bad thing. I love when the formality disappears and the comfort level around each other increases. It transitions relationships to a new level. But, can relationships become too comfortable? Should relationships hang on to some of that formality, that level of trying to “impress” each other, that ability to always be on your best behavior, in order to be most successful?
I remember when we were dating and Justin stopped by one evening after work. Until then, we had only seen each other more “formally” – meaning I was always dressed up, my makeup was on, and my hair was styled. What he learned that night is that once I’m home for the evening, I can’t get into my loungewear fast enough; the makeup comes off, and the hair gets piled on top of my head in a clip! When he called to say he was stopping by, I considered getting dressed again, putting on some lip gloss and taking out the hair clip, and then I thought better of it. This is me. Like it or leave it. Better to find out now. I nearly melted when he walked in my front door, took one look at me, and told me how beautiful I was! Dropping that level of formality and being comfortable in our own skin around each other is a wonderful thing.
But, can we take it too far? We were sitting on the back porch the other night. In the “early days” – meaning four years ago – we would have been totally focused on each other and been aware of our behavior. We laughed the other night as we realized that while sitting on the back porch we had our fair share of belches and farts (sorry, but true); our conversation was interrupted more than a few times as we each answered phone calls and texts; we were both out of our nice clothes and in our scruffy clothes. You know what? It was wonderful. It meant that we have achieved a comfort level in our relationship where we can just be us. The critical thing is that we were enjoying each other’s company, reconnecting on the back porch, enjoying a glass of wine together, and sharing the highs and lows of our week. Sure, it was peppered with the occasional belch or text (!), but we were spending quality time with each other. It showed we were comfortable with each other, and comfortable with where our relationship has come.
That being said, we are also aware that when that familiarity turns from one of “comfort and ease” to one of “disregard and disrespect” that it’s time to reassess. It is when relationships, either dating or marriage, start to turn from comfort to complacency, that many couples start to feel disconnected, unappreciated, and undervalued.
It’s a fine line! What do you think? Are you in that phase of formality and best behavior? Are you transitioning to pleasantly comfortable? Or are you stuck in that complacent “whatever – I really don’t care” mode? Is it time to reassess your comfort level to ensure you haven’t gotten “too” comfortable?