July 2004, Message of the Month
When there is a divorce in a family, it is almost inevitable that new partners will, at some point, enter the family. This begins the issues of the blended family. The way we choose to relate to these new partners in our families has an enormous impact on our lives and the lives of our children. We can choose to compete with these new people. We can refuse to accept them as part of our family. Or, we can invite them in and embrace them as part of the family. As always, the choice is ours to make and we are solely responsible for our choices and their consequences.
Jav, my parenting partner, started seeing Ingrid, (now his wife) seven years ago. When I met her I realized that she was important in Javís life and this led me to think about how I would relate to Ingrid myself. I could have chosen to compete with her or I could have denied her role in Javís and my childrenís lives. But, I knew this would be at a cost to everyone involved. Jav and I still needed to process the negative emotions from ending our marriage, but I did wish both of us happiness. When it became clear that their relationship was serious and they began to make plans for a future together, it was my responsibility to reach out to Ingrid and begin our relationship. I chose to introduce her to my friends and family as part of my family even before they were married. I think Ingrid appreciated this overture between us. It was easier for my friends to accept Ingrid once I had done so. At the beginning, my friends felt strange about this. It was unusual not to compete with another woman in the family and certainly one who was part of an ex-husbandís life. I realized it was a cultural/social habit that we seem to have. We automatically assume that things between two people who are divorced are going to be negative. We have been conditioned to expect this scenario.
Ingridís friends were conditioned to believe that marrying a man with an ex-wife and children would automatically be a negative experience. They warned her of becoming a step-mother and the possible overwhelming problems that could arise. I believe that Ingrid and I have worked to create something that is outside the realm of expectation due to conditioning. Anything is possible if we believe it is so. Setting intentions is key to making a vision into a reality. I wanted my family to continue to be a family regardless of the divorce. We were still two parents raising our children and I felt it was possible to become friends again and to re-create our relationship. Then Ingrid joined our family and there was another avenue of love for my children, for Jav, and friendship for myself.
When we choose to compete with someone joining our family it is because we are not feeling sure of ourselves or our place in our families. It is essential to do the work on ourselves in order to see ourselves through loving eyes. When we love and honor ourselves it is easier to love and honor those around us. This is especially true of parenting partners and new partners joining our families. The impact of our choices on our families is immeasurable. Our children learn by our example. Are we teaching them to refuse love because it is not good enough or because it might threaten us and our well being as their parents if our children love someone besides us. Instead, can we teach our children to give and receive love freely and practice this with them in our families?
We must realize that this is a choice. What is the vision we have of ourselves and our families? What do you want to create in your family? What gifts do you want to give yourself and your children? Write your vision down, keep revising and refining it. Visualize it coming true. Act as if it is already here. Begin the practice now.
I Believe . . .