When couples get married, they typically do not think about not being married to the loves of their lives forever. However, when I got married, I thought about divorce because my husband and I are both products of failed marriages. Always the overthinker, I have thought about divorce often throughout my life because I have lived through a divorce and have witnessed the aftermath, the good and the bad.
There is no instructional manual and unfortunately, a lot of hurt feelings and family uncertainty takes place after a divorce. As a child, you are unaware that love is multiplied and not divided leaving the child wondering. Will my parent love these new people as much as they love me? Will I be replaced in my parent’s life? Will my parent hold space for me? Will they love their new wife / girlfriend / husband / boyfriend more than they love me?
Despite family uncertainty, there is a lot of good that happens family-wise as well. The addition of family members is the best part as I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, many cousins, a great-niece, and a great-nephew as a result of my birth parents divorcing and marrying other people. I grew up with one of my bonus sisters, 3 years my senior, who is to this day my confidant who knows my history and who is always there when I need to vent. She understands me because she knows where I have been and what it was like in the early years because she was there, too. Every other weekend, we lived as sisters, bathing together, playing together, putting on crazy talent shows, and coming up with messy experiments that drove my mom crazy. Her brain works differently than mine; she’s artsy and I’m more of a feet-on-the-ground thinker. I am so happy that we grew up together because she taught me to think outside of the box and be a sister for life.
Weddings, holidays, and birthday parties provide most problems in blended families giving me the most anxiety: Will everyone feel comfortable? Seen? Welcome? Included? Although we’ve been working on this family dynamic for 40 years, it feels like it does not get any easier. You would think that we would have this down pat but it feels like we are always reinventing the wheel due to life events such as marriages and births.
Who will be included in the wedding party? Who will be invited to the rehearsal dinner if they are not included in the wedding party? Where do we sit at the wedding, with the parents of our family member? Who will throw the bridal shower or the honey do shower? Will our side even host a shower to celebrate the new couple? It’s literally such an awkward place to be in that most of the time I do not even want to show up. Someone’s feelings ALWAYS get hurt but it’s never spoken of because speaking of these complicated relationships does not change anything to make it better. I told my husband when we got married that once we have children, there is no turning back, I do not want to perpetuate the awkwardness.
Most people know that holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas are hard enough when you have to visit your side of the family and your spouse’s side of the family. Add in the extra places of step-parents on either or both sides and the holiday becomes no fun at all.
Pictures, how can pictures be hard you may think? Well when one parent wants pictures of their biological kids, feelings get hurt. You should see the last family picture that we took at the last family wedding and there were at least 30-40 people in one picture. Imagine wrangling all of those people to take a picture after a wedding ceremony!
Divorce is a traumatic event not only for parents but for children as well. We can choose to look at it as a curse, but I choose to look at it as a blessing. I would not give up anything about my blended family because they are all so very special to me as the love that we have for one another is deep despite all that we have been through. I am the Godmother of two of my bonus sisters’ children and of one of my brother’s daughters; they love me and I love them more than they can imagine. As we get older and we begin to have grandchildren, I am not sure how often we will be able to get together with the growth of our families, but one call is all that is needed for us to show up for one another, and for this, I am forever grateful.