By guest blogger Susan G Mathis
When Susan married Patrick, a widower more than twice her age, his nine-year-old daughter was none too happy. The little girl didn’t want a stepmother, and Susan wasn’t so sure she wanted to be one! The tension between the two made the couple’s honeymoon season none too easy and threatened to create a nightmare first Christmas. What would they do? In Christmas Charity, a new novella about just such an experience, the step-parenting dilemma becomes palpable.
The expectations we have heading into a second marriage are often quite different from those of a first marriage. Our past experiences and our current circumstances can overshadow the bliss younger couples might have going into a first marriage. There might be issues of trust, safety and security. A death or divorce may bring a cynical, or at least cautious, view of the future. Knowing how these expectations can affect your marriage is important.
In second marriages, the biggest influence is often our previous marriage. Whether you lost a spouse through death or divorce, there are usually some negative feelings you need to deal with. Grief over the loss, sadness, depression, anger, pain, hurt and trauma—these emotions and feelings can often affect your expectations of a second marriage and put undue pressure on your mate.
We all seek happiness and security. But how we achieve it varies with each of us. This, again, is where expectations come into play. What is fun for one person may not be fun for the other. What is hurtful or scary to one person may not affect the other.
What do you expect of your mate as he or she stepparents your child? Because each of us is uniquely different from one another we must understand each other’s expectations if we’re to have healthy relationships.
When you don’t understand what is expected of you, lots of conflict, stress and frustration can arise. What’s really important to each of you spiritually, physically, educationally, financially, emotionally and sexually? What do you expect your new family to be like? What about the children? What role do you expect your spouse to take regarding step-parenting?
Dale and I spent a lot of time discussing these kinds of expectations. Because we’d been hurt in the past and had been single for so long, we knew that our previous experiences could affect us greatly if we didn’t understand each other well. Knowing our faults and foibles helped us both adjust more easily to the relational mishaps that could come our way.
In Christmas Charity, Susan and Patrick didn’t have time to discuss much of anything, so their first weeks together became rather difficult. Avoiding such circumstances can save everyone a lot of heartache.
When you study each other’s priorities and preferences, you’ll be better informed when it comes to understanding each other’s expectations. Though you won’t get all the answers to every area of life, as you explore the area of expectations, you will soon realize how comfortable or uncomfortable you might be with the other person’s expectations.
Adapted from Christmas Charity by Susan G Mathis and The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness by Susan and Dale Mathis, Copyright © 2018, all rights reserved. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.