We recently shared an article of one wife’s advice for stepmoms! It was such an encouragement for wives in our community who are also step mothers. Today I am so excited to share another guest post from a stepmom’s perspective on marriage and parenting! Allie Carpenter, author at How She Does It, gives a powerfully honest message of her experience being newly married with the responsibilities of stepparenting. Her reminder to us is: You are where God wants you to be… embrace it!
I remember the exact moment when my husband–then co-worker–told me he had two sons. I was sitting beside him in his pickup truck, the Florida sun blazing down on us as we drove through the subdivision our company was building. I was still healing from an intense breakup and it felt so good to be carefree and laugh with someone. I was instantly drawn to his warm and magnetic personality.
I think I remember it so vividly because I was so shocked. David seemed so young, not much older than me. I certainly wasn’t old enough to have a five and seven year old, so how could he? I remember my reaction–I think I just laughed in disbelief. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I certainly didn’t think we would end up dating, let alone married three years later.
As our relationship grew, David told me more about his marriage that resulted in his two little boys. He described how he fell in love with his high school girlfriend and married her at the tender age of eighteen. He recounted their first happy years and how their first son, Jonah, was born out of love and so much hope for their future. They traveled to South America together for David’s construction job and had their second son, Dawson, when they returned to the states two years later. When they eventually separated, his ex-wife moved his children back to her hometown three states away.
I remember feeling deeply saddened by his past, and wanting the sheer power of my love to heal his broken heart. I hoped that I could be a fresh start for him. In my naiveté, I failed to realize that one’s past often shapes one’s future. It is impossible to leave the pain surrounding a previous marriage completely in the past, let alone the children that came from it. Friends and family cautioned me that his children would be a part of my life forever if I chose to be with him. In my haze of love and hopes for our future, I was absolutely incapable of processing what that really meant.
Six months after our wedding, Jonah and Dawson’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. Due to the intensity of her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, it was decided that the boys would come and live with us for 6 months so she could focus on healing.
I never imagined I’d be honoring the “for worse” part of our wedding vows a mere 180 days from the start of our marriage. The last thing any newlywed desires is for two children who are not her own to enter her home and be a part of her brand-new union. Please don’t judge me for my honesty–I understood how terrible this entire ordeal was for Jonah and Dawson and that they were the real victims of this situation. My conscious mind knew it was best for them to be with us while their mom recovered. But my selfish, sinful heart wanted no part of it. I struggled constantly with my sense of entitlement, believing I didn’t “deserve” these circumstances. I envied our married friends who weren’t in the same situation. I even resented my husband for ever meeting his ex-wife and for ever having children with her.
I was consumed with selfishness and despair.
I now understand that marrying a man with children was part of God’s design for my life all along. I truly believe he puts us in as many situations that will grow and develop us as possible.
Selfishness is something I have always struggled with, and living in such a “me” culture has only contributed to it. We as wives are often encouraged to spend our money on ourselves, make ourselves as physically attractive and well-dressed as possible and spend our leisure time pursuing activities that we desire. We are told that we “deserve” more, that our husbands need to yield to our desires and wants for our life. That our children are wonderful gifts–until they consume our energy and “destroy” our bodies.
God didn’t design wives for everyone around us to serve us. He created us to unconditionally love and serve our husbands and children.
I used to see my stepsons as a hardship and inconvenience in my life. I was jealous of women who didn’t have stepchildren and I felt shortchanged somehow that I had to not only “put up with” these boys but try to love them as well.
I finally realized two things through God’s love for me that transformed my thinking:
1.) I needed to unconditionally love, not judge, my husband for his past as God loves me in spite of mine.
2.) I also needed to unconditionally love and serve these two innocent boys who’s life circumstances were not of their own fault or doing. God brought me into their life to teach them, love them and shape their hearts in Christ.
Our precious lives are not only for ourselves. God gave us our life to learn, grow, love and teach others. If you find yourself in a situation in your marriage that you feel is unfair and you want to resent your husband for it, love him unconditionally through it as God loves you. We are not put in our marriages to judge or resent our husbands. We are put in our marriages by God to become whole, selflessly loving women of Christ. God intentionally chose our husband for us because He knew that our husband would challenge us.
I pray that you will embrace those challenges and grow through them, instead of letting them tear you apart.
You are where God wants you to be!
“What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” – Matthew 19:4-6