When I agreed to marry Raylan, we had been living together for six months - attempting to blend our three youngest on a 50/50 schedule. Halle and John lived in an apartment nearby. Chris lived with his Mom an hour away - spending the occasional weekend. I thought I knew exactly what I was getting into when I agreed to marry my Hubby. Then life took over and I realized I knew nothing about the life I had chosen.
Two weeks after our engagement Raylan got a call one Sunday afternoon and by nightfall his 13 year old son was living with us full time. Chris brought his suitcases packed full of baggage from a life I played no part in. As he slowly unpacked - so did the problems he brought with him.
When we welcomed Chris into our home - it was a home that had yet to figure out who we were as a married couple, as parents, as a family. We had no traditions, rules or foundation to draw upon - we were still exploring the possibilities of what our family could be.
All glaring signs that Raylan and I were in no position to successfully handle the challenges Chris would bring our way. As a result our new marriage was born on life support. Our survival - touch and go for many years.
Eleven Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Married My Hubby:
1. It's ok to say NO!
2. Put your marriage first - you can't help anyone unless your relationship is solid.
3. You always have a choice in every situation even involving your step kids.
4. Don't give anything with the expectation that it will change a step kid and/or Ex Wife's opinion of you nor change the outcome of any given situation.
5. Don't give anything you're not willing to lose.
6. Find ways to keep a connection with your kids /step kids when they are with their other parent.
7. Involve a good therapist in your child's life, even if you think you can't afford one. It costs far less, emotionally and financially, to prevent a problem rather than try and fix one.
8. Engaging in or justifying negative behavior breeds MORE negative behavior not less.
9. Raise a child to be a victim of divorce - you've raised a victim for life.
10. Even if your Hubby acknowledges that he's raising his kids with divorce guilt and wants to change that doesn't always translate into any real change.
11. Situations don't always have a happy ending - be grateful for the ones that do - let go of the guilt from the ones that don't.
Our marriage and family didn't start off the way either of us dreamed of - was far harder to navigate than either of us imagined - pushed our relationship to it's very edge more than once.
I didn't know back then that we would defy the odds and find our way back to each other time after time. I couldn't have known back then because we had to live our life to find that out. What I thought I knew when I agreed to marry my Hubby turned out not to be much. Sometimes it's the things we don't know that turn out to be life's greatest surprises.