Between being the “woman at the well” before Christ and working in law firms that had a family law division for 20 years (which I’ve always disliked), I am no stranger to family law conflict. However, being very well aware of family law conflict and hating it, I did everything I could to keep my kids out of it at all costs. When I got divorced, we had a completely agreed divorce decree, no process servers, and an open door policy with the kids for the next 10 years. Even after I remarried, my ex and I rode together to out of town band concerts together and worked together for the sake of the kids. Seriously, it is possible to agree to disagree. Just because the marriage didn’t work doesn’t mean there weren’t great things that came from it, namely the amazing children.
When I met my husband, he warned me about his ex-wife. He said they used to call her “the mule” and say that she was “off in the head” like one of the crazy aunts or something like that. She was stubborn and prideful and full of revenge and hate. And she’s going to hate you because you’re hot and blonde and professional with a high self-esteem. So, how bad can an ex-wife’s hate be? Well, bad enough to birth the blog Blended Family Hell on Earth which lead to the journal/blog entry about The Divorce Lie.
I call it the Divorce Lie because every time the Blended Family Hell on Earth arises, I find myself browsing some really cute apartments just knowing that all of my problems would just vanish if I lived on my own with my 2 precious teenagers who are amazing and who are not caught up in the middle of parental brainwashing and custody litigation (precious teenagers haha…). After all “my kids and I” don’t have that problem. We worked our drama out. This is “your ex and your kids”. Trust me, you’ve gotta love the blended family gig. NOT!
So, let’s address my mistakes first. I bark too dang much. I should keep my freaking mouth shut but I don’t. I asked the Lord what the heck was wrong with me and why I just don’t shut up when I should and I was promptly reminded that “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” James 3:2. Well, in that case… thank you ex-wife for helping to mold me. My life lessons with you are teaching me and training me to hold my tongue. Good ole’ sanctification baby. Of course, if you really knew me, then you’d know that I’m all bark and no bite like my sweet yorkie. She can seriously scare some people with that ferocious bark of hers but at the end of the day, she’s 5 pounds and only has 4 teeth. I may spout off while I’m angry and say things I don’t mean, but at the end of the day I am harmless and won’t bite you. I’ll be the first person to put aside my negative feelings and try to be the adult and do the right thing. I repent quickly.
Now, the ex-wife on the other hand. Whew! There’s no bark. You’ll just wake up one day with a venomous bite that requires emergency surgery and an amputation. The damage to the relationship between her and my husband is equally as bad. It reminds me of the Warning Against Pride: “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong…” James 4:1-3.
Motive is everything. My motives are to strongly encourage resolution. Pressure? Yes. But damage? No. My opponent’s motives, on the other hand, are to inflict permanent damage. The quote my husband used was “she keeps pulling the pin from the hand grenade and then looks upon the situation with shock and awe when there is nothing but utter destruction”. Excellent analogy wise husband of mine.
I have learned that in this life we will have storms. The enemy can’t really use people that can’t hurt you so he sometimes uses those you love and those closest to you. Just as Jesus said “get behind me Satan!” to the only disciple who walked on water to him (Matt 16:23), sometimes our biggest sources of conflict come from within our very own inner circle with those who should be showing the most love, forgiveness, and loyalty.
How can we succeed? “By getting at the heart of the issue without sabotaging the heart of our offender” per Lysa TerKeurst. That’s far easier said than done in a blended family. Especially in moments of emotional conflict. But at the end of the day, we are all a work in progress. Two steps forward, one step back.
At the end of the day, this is not my man’s fault. There are days that the relationship is difficult because of me or my offspring, days it is difficult due to him or his offspring, and then there are days that everything is incredible. The difficult days have taught me to appreciate the good ones. And if that’s not good enough, then it never hurts to gain some perspective. If you’re in the fiery furnace, just don’t forget to make smores.
Social media hugs to all my fellow stepfamilies out there. Keep hanging in there.