"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

What's a (good) man to do?

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash
My struggles as a stepmother have often spilled all over my beautiful, patient, forgiving and gracious husband. He's a good, good man, and one of the things he's learned about himself through this stepfamily journey is that he's a "people pleaser", and that brings to the surface his own struggles. On the one hand, he wants to do what pleases his wife (who is NOT the mother of his children), on the other hand he doesn't want to "exasperate" his children (who are NOT the children of his wife)!!

A true dilemma in a stepfamily.

Oh the agony
I saw this very dilemma in crystal clear black and white one Saturday morning a few years ago. I'd decided to go to our local farmer's market early, just for a quick visit to pick up a few essentials. My stepdaughter was still asleep, so we agreed that I would go alone, and my husband would stay home until she woke. I started preparing breakfast, and then asked him if he wanted to eat breakfast with me before I went, or wait and have it with his daughter when she woke.

Oh my!! The agony that skittered across his face in that fleeting moment. Honestly, what's a good man to do when faced with such a question? Was it a loaded question? Was it a test? Was I asking him to prove his love for me by choosing to have breakfast with me over having it later with his daughter? What was the RIGHT answer??

In less than 5 seconds, I'm pretty sure this whole minefield of possibilities whizzed through his mind.

My contribution
I know I've contributed to his dilemma by all the times I've allowed this kind of question to be way too important. All the times I actually HAVE been setting him a test, pathetically needing him to prove his love for me. It happened often in the first months of our marriage, as I grappled with how he could possibly put me first (second only to God) when he'd been putting his children first for so long.

Was I his first priority now? 
Was I really? 
What would that look like? 
How would he prove it? 

To him it must have felt a little like walking a tightrope over an enormous, yawning (and potentially fatal) canyon...........

Releasing him from the struggle
As soon as I saw his struggle that morning, I knew my next words had better be the right ones, the ones that would release him from his dilemma and help to soothe this savage "people pleasing" beast with which he wrestles, and that I've fed, both knowingly and unknowingly, in the past.

The decision was made - by me - I would have a quick breakfast and head off, and he could enjoy a more leisurely one with his daughter when she woke. It would be nice for them to have some relaxed daddy-daughter time together, I smiled as I told him my decision.

He was grateful. And, I'm quite sure, more than a little relieved.

And so I progress
This particular stepmother issue has been very real for me over the years, and I'm sure it's not completely done yet. My stepchildren have never overtly battled me for their dad's time and attention, but there have been some covert struggles along the way. It's getting better, I'm progressing, my stepchildren are progressing. We all are.

God is so faithful, and I know that the answer for me is always to trust more in Him, give up my "rights", commit this stepfamily journey to Him, and make Him my first priority. As I do these things, I find that the need to prove that I take priority over my stepchildren becomes less of a "thing". I'm thankful for that.

"And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life." Matthew 19:29

Linking up with Tune in Thursday,  Recharge Wednesday, Bloggers' Pitstop, and Porch Stories.

10 comments

  1. Loved how you handled that situation. It's full of kindness! Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading Leslie!! xx

      Delete
  2. I don't think this sort of struggle is isolated to step-families, although I can definitely see that it would be intensified when the family isn't one blood unit. There are occasions when I feel I want my husband to "prove" his love to me - for me it's about whether he prefers his OWN company or mine! And I can get greatly offended if he makes a decision too often to do things on his own in his home office. We're all sinners aren't we, in need of grace from God which we then extend to others as well. But it sounds like you did well on the particular occasion you refer to in this post :-). Thanks for your honesty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are indeed all sinners in need of grace! I may have handled this one okay, but for every one of these there are many more that I've handled badly over the years. Thankfully God continues to teach me and show me that His way is best xx

      Delete
  3. Our step-family dynamics are very similar except for the fact that I'm the people pleaser! Neither side is an easy road! Thanks for sharing your thoughts at The Blogger's Pit Stop! Roseann from This Autoimmune Life

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading and commenting Roseann. I enjoyed having a browse over at your blog too, especially as not only do we have stepfamily in common, but also, less fortunately, autoimmunity!! xx

      Delete
  4. Sue, I am quite impressed by your insight regarding the complexities of your situation, you seem very attuned to the relationship struggles of a blended family. You handled the breakfast situation so well! Little acts of kindness make our lives better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Michele, I appreciate your encouragement! Stepfamily life has been one of my biggest struggles, but you are so right that kindness goes a long way to smoothing the waters xx

      Delete
  5. Sue, thank you for this heartfelt post and the insight that you give us, love and kindness are powerful forces.
    We will feature your post on the next Blogger's Pit Stop.

    Kathleen
    Blogger's Pit Stop

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kathleen, I appreciate you reading, your kind comments and your support! xx

      Delete

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. Please feel free to leave a comment!