Written by Guest Blogger: Karla Stephens
Read more at www.pmmarriage.com
As you have read in the other two parts to this saga, my Husband's ex-wife has separated from reality in so many ways we have lost count. I took the stance early in our marriage to look at both sides and weigh them, without giving him too much benefit of the doubt. And as we approach year number eleven of marriage in one week, I am assured that this hatred, control and all-around disdain is one-sided.
Is it ever enough for mothers not to make all the decisions without the father's input? Well, some women have decided that giving birth IS their carte blanche to usurp authority and move on their own volition. Well, while some mothers don't need any help, the court systems give them extra power. Fathers who are compliant and doing everything they can to obtain a positive relationship with their children, are never rewarded...more like appreciated for their efforts. They are just told, 'That's your job.' And what the mother must do isn't? What do you want? A crown? A standing ovation? No, a check? Sound more like it?
Is it ever enough to allow a Father to keep a daily connection with his children and make sure they are emotionally, physically and mentally healthy? Do you as a mother intercede and decide they are giving him too much information and shut them down. Do you bad-mouth his intentions and confuse them? Why are you even part of that exchange? Let Fathers be part of their lives, even though you have decided not to comply with any other orders of the court, except for the child support payment system.
Is it ever enough that you neglect to acknowledge the new woman in his life? The one that has finally came into his life and given him something that he has longed for? Fulfillment, joy, support, care, true intimacy and stability? Are you running out of time to find that and getting angrier at him by the day? Do you wield your wand of misery his way to keep stirring up trouble to run her away? I'll save you some time...she's not going anywhere based on your tactics.
Is it ever enough to believe that a child can love a mother and father equally? Even though a mother may have primary custody per the courts, a father's love is not court-appointed. It's real. It's genuine. It needs to be appreciated and reciprocated. It has never come to decrease the mother's love but it's a father's love that is needed for wholeness. Let's get that ideal. It works.
Is it ever enough to work together in unity for the sake of the child? Can we sit at the table of reason and say to one another, 'For the sake of the children, we will...?' Can we be proactive in their lives as a unit and not be manipulative, mean-spirited and hungry for 'your share.' what is your share? What are you owed? You have equal investment into your children? What else would you like?
Teachable Moment: I have experienced a dozen years of one person's desire to make another person's life HELL. A person who she once stood at an altar and said that she would love forever, for better and worse, for richer or poorer in sickness and in health. Now, you want to cause him the worse pain, leave him broke and kill his spirit in the process. Thank God, his destiny is not in your hands. There will come a day where the ex-wives and ex-husbands will truly be held accountable for all the things they have done to each other. And it won't be in the courts, the media or even on this earth. There will be an eternal price to pay how you treat others as you live. It's best to change and turn now!
Written by Guest Blogger: Karla Stephens
Read more at www.pmmarriage.com
Blended or Broken? Part II: ‘Number One in His Life’
In keeping with the subject of the Blended Family, I would like to veer into a lane that many of the blended families have to deal with…the order of the Family. Many times, when the Husband marries, he is now confronted with the issue of who comes first in his life. Is it the new wife, the children or who? This decision is an easy one but unfortunately, they get it wrong initially. And because he can’t make the right decision, many others try to coach him to making the decision that works best for them.
The new Wife
The new wife IS now in the number one spot in his life by the Law of God. Whether he chooses her or not, she’s the queen and his right hand. No other person is equipped to carry the mantle with him but her. Not mama, not children and certainly not the ex. The wife is the rib. She knows her man inside and out and God has made them one. The husband has to acknowledge that there is no other woman who should usurp the power given to the wife. And the wife must assume her power…with power. No, she is not to nag, control or give manifold ultimatums. She is to decide, make it known and stand her ground. A word to the wise new wife: don’t think because you are ‘new’ that you can do what you want. You have a part to play and it’s very important that you don’t go off script because others do. You can be the bonder…or breaker of this new unit.
My Story: My husband had a little issue with releasing his ‘babies’ as number one when I came along. He was jaded on women because he had had two relationships that had left him BROKEN. He was no gonna give me all his heart even though he loved me. But I told him to consult his Word and get back to me on that. It took him some months to realize that those babies are precious and loves him unconditionally but that’s all they can offer him. I could hold him up in places that no woman could. I could provide and deliver when he took me as his wife. The Word of God says in Genesis 2 to ‘leave and cleave’ and that’s what it means. Single mothers, this is a reminder that even if you’ve been single for so long and a man comes along and marries you, your precious little ones are now number two. Not second fiddle, but in God’s order, they are to be under the subjection of the household your husband has built with you all. Please have this conversation with your husband-to-be prior to marriage. And the ex too. Because in the new household, Husband runs that. Not the ex.
Both the husband and wife may bring children into the marriage. Know that whoever they belong to, they are EQUAL. Even if the wife’s children are the only ones who live in the home full time. There should be no respecter of person when it comes to the children. They should receive the same love, compassion, punishment and opportunities as their new siblings. Dynamics may restrict some concessions for the children who aren’t in the home full time, but they should be able to have the same accommodations as the in-home kids. For example, if the minor kids in the home have a bedroom, the visiting kids should have at least their own bed.
Written by Guest Blogger: Karla Stephens
Read more at www.pmmarriage.com
When I met my Husband 11.5 years ago, I knew he had been married before and had kids. After a while of getting to know him, I knew he was over his ex-wife and there was nothing there for her. He was free to move on. His children were his focus, but he did know he had to work with his ex to make their life great.
Apparently, the ex-wife didn’t get the memo. When she left him, she thought she would continue to enjoy the control she wielded over him now as a single man. She assumed that he would come and pick the kids up when she wanted to be free, fix this and pay for that. She didn’t want to be with him as his wife, but she wanted a lap dog, someone who she can get all the benefits of a husband and father but not the covenant. But something happened about a year after they were done. He fell in love. With ME! So, his focus changed, and he wasn’t available to her anymore, only to his children. And he is a great father to them. Nothing changed there. But she no longer controlled his time and resources. She found out about me from her babies. They fell in love with me on Day One of me meeting them in person. We had talked on the phone many times, but that day was magical. But their mom had a conniption! Not because I met her daughters but that they told her they loved me already and she realized my soon-to-be Husband was UNAVAILABLE to be at her beck and call.
So, eleven years later, we have been on a rollercoaster, out-of-control bullet train and an airplane in a storm surge. The ex has spent a whole decade trying to make our lives as uncomfortable as possible. Threats, sneaky tactics and all-out low-down behavior has been her goal. She doesn’t realize that the only ones that will be affected by this long term is her own children. My husband and I have a love and bond that God has allowed us to usurp all the drama she has thrown our way, but now we can see how the girls have realized her decade-long tyranny and it has pushed them away from her. But the love and care we give them neutralizes much of the drama. Hopefully one day this will change but we won’t hold our breath.
Quick story: My Husband has rarely had his children on their birthdays growing up. His ex-wife felt like it was more important for them to celebrate with her and her family. So, we spent the week before celebrating. Or after. Well, on the youngest’s 3rd birthday celebration with us, the movie Shrek was premiering to a red-carpet event and we decided to take her as a surprise. We were in for the surprise. The local newspaper and tv news was there. Our little family was chosen to be interviewed and photographed for the paper. We didn’t figure it would make the paper, but it did…in the Sunday edition. We were awakened to phone ringing and ringing and ringing. My husband finally woke up an hour later and checked his 9 messages. Turns out, we made the FRONT PAGE! A picture of me, my husband and the two girls at the premiere of Shrek, forever emblazoned in history. And she was livid. She wanted me out of their lives, but it didn’t work. I was here to stay. Man, after her several attempts to keep us fragmented, the world or at least our little world saw the love we shared as a family. Ain’t that a kick in the head for someone who was dead-set on keeping me as the ‘new wife’ and not the new member of the family?
Are you concerned that the romance has been fizzling away in your relationship and you’ve been thinking of ways to reignite the flame? Life happens! The stresses of being a working professional, raising children, and household duties are a few reasons to leave you feeling burnt out, and in turn not much energy left at the end of the day or week towards being engaging towards your spouse.
Murphy's law tends to strike; thankfully not often,but when it does: I’ve had a busy work schedule, two toddlers in full tantrum mode, and chores that overflowed all in the same week. Weeks as such, after mommy duties, I just want to retreat to my tempurpedic mattress and drift off into sleep land.
It is a natural human reaction once you feel overwhelmed to be less than enthused towards anyone and anything else. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, you make time for what you want to make time for … and who you want. Oh my, how true that is, and making your mate feel valued and loved should be at the top of the list of what you want to make time for.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a solid emotional connection with your mate. In most cases, especially for women, our emotions influence our mood. Establishing a strong emotional connection allows room for romance and intimacy, which are all-important elements to strengthen your marriage. So if time or complacency is a factor, you’re in luck, all that is needed is effort, and what’s a little effort for the person that means the most to you. Below are a few ways to rekindle your emotional connection with your spouse without breaking the bank in the process.
Before you start practicing your new last name, or envisioning your destination wedding; how do you know if you should be heading towards the altar let alone saying…I DO?
When this topic comes up in discussion, one of the first things I hear is, “when you’ve been together for more than 5 years!” Of course I feel if you’ve been in a healthy, committed, and productive relationship for 5 years, what else could be hindering you from making the ultimate commitment with your partner? However, I don’t think time together should be a major determinate of getting married. I say this because when you know, you know, and knowing comes with discernment and quality time spent together with your partner. My husband and I dated for 8 months before he proposed. We had a year engagement period, and we’ve been happily married for 7 years! We were friends before we dated, but during our 8 months of courtship we got to know each other better, and know what the other deemed important foundationally in life.
I was single before I dated my husband and when I started dating, I knew what I wanted in a spouse, I didn't want to date idly. I identified what were important characteristics I wanted in a husband. I would recommend this so you clearly know what you deem non negotiable. Some factors that contributed to me knowing that when/if he asked, I would want to spend the rest of my life with my husband were:
These elements mentioned in no way mean that if you don’t have similar factors, you shouldn’t be headed towards I do. For me, these factors, confirmed that my now husband, demonstrated all the characteristics that are important to me. The character of a person is highly important, when you become married, the two become one and it is important to know who you are conjoining with. Essentially, who you are saying I do to, is what you are saying I do to. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the great! So knowing what characteristics are important to you and seeing them on display in your partner helps gauge the fortitude of not only a person but your relationship.
Marriage spells sacrifice. Not literally, but you know what I mean. If I had to pick a few words associated with marriage, one would be sacrifice. Two becoming one (previous article) doesn’t just happen effortlessly, you have to commit to allowing your marriage to work. Sacrificing means sharing responsibility , understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses that affect the relationship, and occasionally doing things( chores) you don’t particularly care for because it benefits the relationship.
An example of working towards strengths: I never want to send my husband to the grocery store, for a fact, he will come home with at least 5 items I didn’t ask him to get. It ruins the budget, and it’s almost never what we needed. I actually enjoy doing the shopping. I price match, use coupons, and ensure we will have balanced meals for the week. On a rare occasion I’m not home with my family for dinner, I'm sure to meal prep or risk worrying that my guys will go hungry.
Now, don’t ever ask me to fix anything around the house, that’s my husband's territory. I consider my husband extremely resourceful and handy in that regard, he changes the air filters in our vehicle. Once our washing machine clogged and he was able to fix it. Leave an issue like that to me; I’d yelp the best repair man. Knowing what our strengths and weakness are helps keep balance as we naturally gravitate to those things, and ensures the basic essentials of living are not forsaken. Spend a little time discussing what your preferences/ strengths are and take ownership of it. This does not have to be set in stone; it’s okay to be flexible. For our relationship it doesn’t mean I never change a light bulb, or my husband never goes to the store!
Whatever the dynamics are in your relationship, whether both spouses work outside the home or no one does, responsibility among the two should still be shared. When I was expecting our second son, I was a stay at home mother to our toddler. I knew when my husband got home from work he would be drained from a long day. He also knew that I was at half energy due to being pregnant and engaging our toddler, with also trying to manage our household and prepare supper. After working a long day he would love to retreat to the couch and kickback to watch a show, but he was always mindful of me having my hands full at home all day and would eagerly ask how he could help. I was mindful not to bombard him when he walked through the door, letting him transition into the role of husband and father. I did have a timer to make sure his unwinding did not take too long though. (Just kidding)
If you are married in a Christian ceremony or of the faith, one scripture you might hear is Ephesians 5:31. It reads “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” This means that you and your spouse are a united front and operate on the same accord.
A huge challenge some married couples face is being married but living as single individuals. Your spouse is not your roommate! You could be setting your marriage up for failure if you have a roommate mentality towards your spouse. Examples of this include maintaining separate finances, poor communication, and different lifestyles. As a roommate, you don't discuss personal finances, and when the bills are due you are in agreement of who pays what. As a roommate, you are not obligated to communicate with your housemate about your comings or goings. Instead, the priority is being able to share hostile free living quarters. As a roommate, your agenda does not have to consistently or ever align with that of your housemate.
When I hear people say “Marriage is 50/50; I do this and my mate does that. I keep this and my spouse keeps that,” I cringe! Why would you commit your life to your mate but only give 50% or withhold anything, including finances? 50/50 shouldn’t be a part of a healthy, trusting marriage. The union of marriage shouldn’t be two people putting in half of anything, including finances or effort, and hoping for the best. Marriage should be two people coming together with all they have to offer for the best outcome.
Here are three things that have helped my husband and I avoid the roommate mentality:
Why is it that as soon as you get married people immediately start to ask, “So when are you having kids!?” I mean honestly, the ink on the marriage licenses hasn’t dried, your honeymoon isn’t over yet, and you haven’t even opened your wedding gifts! It’s as if it’s some unwritten rule of expectancy that as soon as you say I do, a junior should make its arrival in the world nine months later.
I can speak about this from personal experience. My husband and I were bombarded with questions about starting a family for two years after we were married. We started a family when the time was right for us, not based on other’s expectations. The “right time” can be different for different people and for different reasons. Until then, it doesn’t necessarily mean the family is incomplete without children.
Should etiquette be considered when you’re speaking with a married couple without children? For example, is it polite to ask why or when children will be considered?
I recently bumped into an older married couple in the market. No, literally bumped into them with my cart, yes I know, I felt horrible! I was hoping I didn’t bruise a hip or a rib. They were very gracious and ensured me they were fine. Whew, I felt relieved! Just when I was adjusting my cart to back away from my shame, the wife said thanks to me. Confused, I asked “thanks, if I’m not mistaken I bumped into you”? That’s when she proclaimed, “he needs a swift kick every now and then, and now I don’t have to give him one for the week!" I could not help but to laugh. Then I asked, “how long have you two been married?” “37 years” he let me know. "Wow, what’s the key I asked?“ He replied, "It’s simple, love never dies. If you can remember that, you get to 37 years."
I was grateful for that encounter and I let them know. Loves never dies, so simple, yet so profound. As I pondered on the concept, to me it made perfect sense. There are so many things that you can breathe life into with the use of faith, your words, mentality, and even your actions. The love you have for your spouse doesn’t die, unless you let it. Every day you have to be intentional to cultivate it because love is a feeling and it's also an action.
I’m reminded of a garden. You don’t have a bountiful harvest unless you till the land, water the seeds, and really nurture the ground with care and attentiveness. Even good fertilizer will suffice. When you wake up one morning to ripened tomatoes and peppers, you smile in delight. Atlast, you can enjoy your crops! The same process can be applied to your relationship, consider it a permanent growing season. You should always partake in actions to not only grow your love, but make it everlasting.
An everlasting love doesn’t just happen, just like your crops don’t appear out of thin air. You work on it by...