I was a single mother minding my own business when I met David. When we started dating, the relationship was perfectly uncomplicated. He had his place and I had mine.  When our kids were with their other parents, we’d always get together.

One evening, David invited me over for dinner. He cooked New Orleans Shrimp Creole for me, and set the table with candles and flowers. It was divine and romantic—and of course, I fell in love. As we grew closer and more serious, it was harder and harder to say goodbye. We couldn’t imagine not being together.

I was close to my sons, who were then 5 and 7 years old. David had 3 small children and almost full-time custody. All five children were suffering from the shock of their families breaking apart and a parent leaving home. Insecure and angry, none of our children wanted to share their parent with an outsider. And neither David nor I was particularly interested in raising more kids.

But we had no choice. We wanted to be together as a couple, so we did what we had to do: we formally tied the knot and merged our families. That’s when things got messy. The clear division of “David and his kids” and “me and my kids” was gone. We were now a mixed up bundle of relationships.  In the bundle were different personalities and genes, conflicting loyalties, different developmental stages, moods and interests and parenting styles.

What a shock!  We went from a family of 3 and a family of 4 to an almost fulltime family of 7 in one small house. The kids were all under the age of 14.

So how did we do it, despite our reluctance and the children’s resistance? My next article will detail the five conflicts with which we struggled the most, and how we learned to work through them. Check in next week!

Susan Wisdom MA
April 2011

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