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Sep 17

There’s nothing ‘Brady Bunch’ about blended families

Posted on Friday, September 17, 2010 in Divorce, love, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships, Singles

There will be a lot of tears shed soon.

Nothing to do with Sean and me breaking up. These aren’t sad tears — they’re the good kind.

A blogger I’ve come to know and love — Rachel Sarah, aka Single Mom Seeking — has not only stopped seeking, but she will also no longer be a single mom. In a week give or take, she’ll be marrying Lucky Guy.

Which, by the way, he is, although can’t help thinking that perhaps they’re both lucky, not only to have found each other but because only one of them, Rachel, has a kid.

I just don’t know how about blending families happily.

I know not everyone feels the way I do and I know that it’s hardly a unique thing, but the idea of a blended family scares the crap out of me — even though I laughed along with everyone else at “The Brady Brunch” (OK, please don’t
judge me!) when I
was growing up.   

Now that I could be
the stepmom in that scenario, not the stepkid, I’m just not laughing.
(And I’m not exactly sure why the stepkids would be laughing, actually;
two parents are more than enough let alone two sets).

It’s not that I don’t think
I could love another kid or kids as much as my own — I believe I could.

It’s not that I don’t think
a stepchild could like
me, if not love me —
it’s not like I’m some
wicked stepmom out of a Grimm’s fairy-tale; what’s not to like?

It’s not that I fear my kid wouldn’t get along with step-siblings — he’s pretty open-hearted and flexible.

It’s not that I worry about having to deal with the ex — you always have to deal with the ex, even if you’re “just” a girlfriend.

And it’s not that I worry that my partner would struggle with any of the above either; if he wasn’t a guy who could handle it, I obviously wouldn’t be marrying him. A boyfriend needs to step up to the plate.

So, what the hell is my problem?

Good question.

I’m not really sure what makes me fear blending families other than having an understanding and an appreciation for how hard it is to create any sort of family, let alone a mash-up families with a past.

There’s just no way to do that without freeing yourself of expectations of what it should look like and embracing what it actually is.

And, you know, most of us don’t do that very well.

There’s a lot of that stupid abusive stepfather/mean-spirited stepmother stuff still floating around — about as much as the “Oh, it will all work out if there’s love” crap. I wish the latter were true but relying solely on love rarely makes everything OK, and it bums me out to have to say that. A majority of second marriages — many of which involve kids — end in divorce. Like 60 percent or so. So, obviously “all you need is love” is as much a fantasy as believing Wonder Bread helps build a strong body 12 ways.

And that’s why I hesitate. Or maybe shudder. Or cringe. Or want to say, “I’m just not going there.”

Because I don’t want to put my kid or myself through that again.

And yet, there are families who are doing it, and doing it well. Instead of focusing on the 60 percent, I’d like to know about the 40 percent who’re thinking, “Hey, this is even better than I expected.”

Or at least willing to hang in there.

So, if you’re a happily blended family, I’d love to hear from you.

And if you’re not quite a happily blended family — or if you thought you were — I’d like to hear from you, too.

Photo © Tatyana Gladskih – Fotolia.com

Sep 13

Rescue me!

Posted on Monday, September 13, 2010 in dating, Happiness, Honesty, Men, Relationships, Women

Mia, Sara and I had gone to an author reading, one of those authors — you know the kind, the passionate, sensitive ones who write about how their dysfunctional family past made them seek ways to live in the moment, find compassion and forgiveness, and give their time and energy to help others.

It didn’t hurt that he was drop-dead gorgeous.

As we sat there, listening to his stories, his vibrant blue eyes sparkling as they flashed up to make eye contact with the audience, his dimples dancing, his voice faltering as he recalled his a soul-searching journey, the hardships he’d experienced and seen in the world, we were overcome. I felt my eyes well up, and as I reached up to wipe away a tear I saw Sara do the same, too.

“Wow,” that was something, Mia said as we sat at a nearby bar after.

“Very inspirational,” Sara said.

“I could soooo go for a guy like that,”
Mia said.      

“Me, too,” Sara agreed. “Couldn’t you, Kat?”

“He’s gorgeous and obviously has
a huge heart. But, man, he’s one damaged soul. I mean, the guy admitted that he can’t get close to people. I’ve been the woman in that kind of relationship — it didn’t feel
too good.”

“Hmm, you may be right about that,” Sara said. “It seemed like he was laying on that dysfunctional childhood thing a little heavy.”

“But, he got better!” Mia said.

Maybe. Still, I have to wonder why
so many gals are attracted to damaged souls. Because, if it
were a woman at the podium talking about her family’s divorce and death and abandonment and how that made her fear intimacy, how many men in the audience do you think would be saying, “Hmm, wow, what a great catch!  I am soooo attracted to that”?

You get the picture.

Not too many — maybe a handful who suffer from knight-in-shining-armor syndrome or something. And then when one or the other gets exhausted and walks away from the relationship, those women end up being the “psycho” exes so many guys seem to have.

I’ve been sucked into falling for the damaged, vulnerable types. I’ve dated men whose past would make anyone pause, but I saw enough good stuff in them to hang on — especially because I believe we’re all sort of damaged souls to one degree or another. Then, in moments of strength and reality-checking, I’ve ditched men to whom I was attracted for various reasons but recognized that here was a man who needed to work through a lot of things — on his own, if he wanted to — before I’d get any closer.

But, let’s face it — people who have trouble pasts have a vulnerability that appeals to the nurturer in all of us.

I’m all for being compassionate about people’s past hurts, but you have to have an awareness of it and not use it as a crutch of why things are messed up for you today. Unless, of course, you can become famous for it …

  • Why do some people gravitate toward damaged souls?
  • Does it make us feel good to “save” someone?
  • Do we think someone’s more likely to stay with us if we do, like the faithful pound pup (who would probably still drop us in a New York second if someone else started showering love and treats)?
  • Are some people drawn to drama because it’s more exciting (and maybe easier) than a “normal” relationship?
  • Is it true that damaged women are easier to get into bed?

Photo © Petr Ivanov – Fotolia.com

Sep 9

Do you tell your partner everything?

Posted on Thursday, September 9, 2010 in Honesty, Men, Relationships, Women

I knew Rex was going out of town for business, so I called Mia to see if she needed some gal time.

“Nah, thanks. I have plans.”

“Hope he’s cute,” I joked.

“What do you mean?” she said with an unusual intensity.

“I don’t mean anything, but now you’re making me feel like it is meaning something. What’s up?”

“Nothing, really. I’m just going to get together with Peter, that’s all.”

“Peter as in your old flame Peter?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Uh, I don’t know. That’s cool. If it’s cool with Rex, it’s cool with me.”

“Well, I’m not going to tell Rex.”

“How come?”               

“Because, why should I? I mean, he’s
just a friend and I love Rex and I would never do anything to hurt my guy or our relationship so … what’s to tell?”

Good question, I guess.

But what if it were Rex meeting up with
an old flame and he didn’t tell her? How would that feel?

I’m guessing she wouldn’t be so OK
with it. Unless, of course, she didn’t find out.

Which is what most of us hope happens when we don’t reveal something that we’re not sure if we should share or not. Or know that we should, but don’t.

Otherwise, we’d just say it.

Which gets into the bigger question — should we tell our partner everything?

And if we don’t, why aren’t we?

It’s simple to say, well, just tell the truth. But as Oscar Wilde says, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Especially in relationships.

We can’t be in a healthy relationship without trust and truth. And yet, we don’t always tell our partner everything. That’s not necessarily lying, but it isn’t necessarily the “whole truth,” either.

And then, if it’s discovered something was omitted … watch out!

I pretty much assume that whatever guy I’m with will be fantasizing and checking out women and feeling tempted daily — maybe hourly.

Either he’s going to be the kind of guy who acts on it or not (and if he does act on it, he’s not my guy for much longer).

But sometimes when we’re confronted with reality  — Hey, I saw your sweetie having lunch with an attractive women yesterday — we feel a little twinge of, “hmm.”

Coworker? Boss? Client? Old friend? New friend?

Should we care?

Should we be sharing every little thing, especially if it involves time, however brief, spent in the company of someone of the other sex?

I know I haven’t.

Of course, I know that when I spend time with a male friend or a former flame, well, nothing’s going to “happen.” I trust myself, know my boundaries, and therefore my sweetie can trust me, too. (Yeah, yeah, I know — I once cheated on someone, long ago. I’m not “that girl” anymore).

Still, do we ever fully trust another person the same way we believe we can trust ourselves — and the way we want them to trust us?

  • How much do you share with your partner, especially about time spent with the other sex?
  • What if it’s time spent with a former flame?

Photo © Nathalie P – Fotolia.com