Divorce, blended families & that “strategy” known as grace

by Kristin on March 31, 2010

in Love, family & community

Photo by Kim/Apps

I love interviews. I love reading them, and I especially love being the one who asks the questions. If you and I ever get the chance to sit down together over a cup of coffee or beer, don’t be surprised if you get the feeling you’re being interviewed.

As it turns out, I sort of like being interviewed, too. I mean, it makes me feel self-conscious and a bit embarrassed, but I love getting to see how someone else perceives my life and work, through the questions they ask. I also love being driven to think more about certain aspects of my life—to dig a bit deeper.

Laura from Chambanamoms asked me some great questions. Two in particular got me thinking a lot about love, marriage and family. (You should definitely check out the full interview at Chambanamoms, a great parenting website started by Amy and Laura, two smart, fun women I’ve gotten to know a bit this past year.)

One question is this: You are happily remarried, but divorce remains a primary topic on your blog—why? Here’s how I answered:

There are two reasons, really. One is personal: Going through a divorce was the most difficult thing I’ve ever endured, and it changed me in many many ways. It might be a messy experience that I’d rather walk away from and forget, but I can’t, because it shaped me into who I am today, and what my life is. The second reason I write about divorce is because I felt so alone and misunderstood as my marriage was breaking up and I was having issues at my church. I want to let others know that they are not alone, and to give them some hope through my story.

Somehow it works—can I take any credit?

The other question that got me thinking is this: What strategies have you used to make your blended family successful?

That was a hard one for me. Most of the time, in the midst of our busy life with three kids who all live in two homes, I feel like I’m kicking it into autopilot. Sometimes that feels like the only way to stay on the treadmill without tumbling off. I’d like to say we’re all deliberate about how we do things—how we relate to our stepchildren and their other parents. I’d like to say we have all kinds of strategies and techniques we employ daily to keep everything functioning smoothly. I’d like to say I could write a book about it, and share all the magic with everyone else.

But when Laura asked me that question, I knew that wasn’t really the case. What I know is this: At the end of every day I am very aware of how I could have done better as a mom, stepmom and wife; I am also thankful for all the successes of the day—the love that I saw, felt and gave, the fun times and the moments of kindness and grace.

At the end of the day, I guess that’s what it’s about for any family, blended or not, right? Blended families just have a few additional challenges to overcome.

It might not be magic, but it’s powerful

So here’s how I answered Laura’s question. The “strategy” we rely on seems to be extending forgiveness, compassion and grace. It’s not a magic cure, but something to cling to again and again, with each new day.

Our blended family includes my two daughters and my husband’s daughter, plus we are good friends with my husband’s ex wife and her partner, and we have solid relationships with my ex husband and his wife. It’s rather complicated but it works amazingly well. I wish I had some magic strategies to share, though! My husband had a great relationship with his ex-wife before he and I even met, so that really set the tone for all of the various relationships, which spills over onto the kids, and how they feel about the whole situation. Sometimes I think we just got really lucky—for instance, our three daughters are very similar in age and temperament, and they all get along. Other times, though,  I think we’re able to do what we do only by the grace of God—that he believes our strange family might paint a beautiful little picture of forgiveness, redemption and hope.

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  • http://etherealjoy.blogspot.com Joy

    “Forgiveness, compassion, grace, and Faith….” acting out of love…sounds like a winning strategy for life :) Thank you for sharing as openly as you do!

  • http://www.chambanamoms.com/ laura

    Writing questions for you was quite a challenge, actually. Thank you for participating on our corner of the world, I bet there were many people who learned something from you today.