Journal

Blended Families

Written by Trish Eklund

Editor’s Note: We would like to introduce a new writer. Please give a warm shout out to Trish Eklund. She will be sharing her rather different approach to co-parenting and blended families, including insight to her divorce. You can find out more about Trish in our Feature Writer section and on her blog. ~Heather

I was married the first time for twelve years (thirteen if you count a year of divorce proceedings), with two children from that marriage. Ali-13 and Cami-9 will always be two of my greatest accomplishments. I try to put them first in everything I do in all decisions.

Marriage is tough, lots of give and take. I do not wish to go into details regarding my first marriage. The details of who did what to whom are unimportant, and not worth dwelling on. My ex-husband remarried last year, and they now have two children under two, Ayden and Peyton. I was lucky enough to marry the most wonderful man in the world last October. Bob is seven years younger with no previous marriage or children. He is a patient, fun, and an all-around fantastic father to our girls.

We have a unique family dynamic and therapists have raved of our tolerance, patience, and responsibility we show by putting the children first. People who are not therapists often do not understand our situation, including some of our friends and family members.

First, let me say my ex-husband and I both agreed to forgo attorneys in our divorce. He kept the house and I kept most of the furniture. We agreed to joint physical and legal custody. He began paying child support right away, without a judge’s order, and has paid on time every month. I didn’t rake him over the coals and he didn’t drag out the divorce. We did not utter a negative word about the other to our daughters. We still had joint birthday parties, even just three months after I moved out. We didn’t fight over the divorce or haggle over who got the set of dishes.

Was I ever angry? You bet I was, and so was he, but expelling that anger would only hurt our children. Have you ever been angry at someone, and noticed that they seemed fine. The anger does not hurt the other person. The person it hurts the most is you. It festers inside, like a cancer feeding on every negative thought.

Now for the present and the reason most make comments on our situation. My ex-husband’s wife and I talk and text almost daily. We all communicate everything regarding our children with one another. If there is a disciplinary action to take, we consult each other, and do not reach a decision until all four of us are in agreement. There have been times when one of us has disagreed with the suggestion or situation at hand, and we discussed until the decision was unanimous. 

We are always respectful. We often sit together when one of the girls has a softball game or event, which I admit, was uncomfortable in the beginning. The first step was move past all bitterness, anger, and jealousy for the good of our children. The other aspect is as children of divorce attempt to play both sides against one another to get what they want, ours do not accomplish this. We also all go to school conferences, which is kind of funny to watch the teacher’s expression upon seeing four parents in the same room.

Bob and Cami dancing

 

People, even family often criticize us for getting along so well. My response is usually, “We are co-parenting two children, why wouldn’t we try to get along?” Things are the same at both houses regarding chores, rules and punishments. This eliminates the, “but at Dad’s house we do this.”

While I understand every situation is different, and I know there is always some resentment and bitterness with divorce, I still think people can evolve. Do you find it strange the way we all get along?

What I have learned from my divorce: It is imperative to let go of the old toxic feelings leftover from any relationship. Holding onto toxic feelings is like swimming with sandbags attached to your feet. You can tread water for a while, but eventually the weight will tire you and pull you under. Letting go is the first step leading to forgiveness.

 

About the author

Trish Eklund

Trish Eklund is a 40-something mom of two, a lover of words, a photographer of the abandoned, and a co-parent with her blended family. She has been a Nebraska transplant for the last 17 years. Learn more about Trish at her blended family website, http://familyfusioncommunity.com/ and her photography website, http://abandonedforgottendecayed.com/, and the Huffington Post Divorce Page. Her abandoned photography has been featured on Only in Your State-Nebraska. Trish Eklund has an essay, Happy Endings, in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz.

7 Comments

  • I think you just found yourself a biggest fan. My parents divorced when I was 17. They made things extremely uncomfortable and we’re still repairing that damage (we’re much better now). But “getting along is NOT normal in a divorce, so it shouldn’t be done” was tossed around more times than I can count in my family.

    I believe you guys have the right idea about family, and it makes perfect sense to me. I’m so glad you’re able to do this…b/c IT works. I’ve seen a few families do this too and the support system that develops is just incredible and I think the children benefit tremendously. I think a family can be divorced and still be family. I think that a family is only really “broken” when the parties behave that way. Good luck! This is amazing!

    • Holly, thank you so much for your comment! You brought tears to my eyes. My parents are also divorced, and after years they can finally be in the same room with one another. My biggest fear with my divorce was that it would doom our daughters to years of therapy and emotional baggage. All four of us have divorced parents with our own unique set of mismatched emotional luggage. We wanted to try to do things differently, and to move past the anger and pain. I only hope that more people going through a divorce will see there is a better way for everyone involved. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment!!!

  • Trish! My husband’s parents are divorced. It is still awful – even after 15+ years. We all want/need to do something to make them at least talk to eachother when they are in the same room, all for the sake of our kids and their only grandkids. Ugh! My girls are getting to the age where they realize something is different about their Grammy and Grandpa. I want so badly for them to get along, but I don’t know if it will ever happen. I’m SO glad to hear there is hope!!

    • Leslie, I completely understand! My husband’s parents don’t like to be in the same room. I can’t imagine how it would feel to carry that pain and resentment for so long. It only takes one person to initiate the first step. I hope one day they can get along, for the sake of your children, and for you!

  • I love your approach to parenting with divorce! My husband’s parents divorce shorty after we stared dating . It was a bitter ugly matter. I have a brother-in-law 12 years younger(the youngest out my husband’s 4 siblings) than my husband who was part of a nasty custody battle too. His parents can now almost 15 years later be somewhat civil to each other. Which is a huge improvement from what it was like in the beginning. We were so worried his dad would cause a seen at our wedding the usher were instructed to physical remove him from the ceremony if they had to, & thankfully they didn’t!

    • Kelly, Thank you very much! That’s too bad your husband’s parents. Divorce can bring out the best or the worst in people. We had similar concerns for our wedding, but luckily everyone behaved themselves.