Forgiveness is a voluntary process to let go of negative feelings or bitterness. The key here is the word VOLUNTARY. It’s your choice and chore to let go of offences against you and move on. This constitutes a change for you personally and change is something most people avoid as it makes them uncomfortable. But, to keep the bitterness and bad feelings bottled up can cause illness, a negative outlook on life and cause a relationship to go downhill quickly.
Many people use the phrase to “Forgive and Forget”. For me, forgiveness takes time to do, but I don’t usually forget the wrongs against me. I guess it depends on the extent of the wrong, but I try to figure out what I was supposed to learn about this trial and not let the circumstance happen to me again. Obviously, time is the best ally for forgiveness and allowing the situation to de-escalate in nature.
Forgiveness has been the hardest characteristic for me over the last several years. I struggle with forgiveness and not highlighting bad situations. What I wanted was a marriage that was perfect, as my previous marriage was a disaster. What I found, was there isn’t a perfect marriage and I am the only person that can control my feelings and reactions. Although I work daily on forgiveness, I have found when I do offer sincere forgiveness; it makes me a stronger person.
My husband has been a good example to me of a person that offers forgiveness. We have learned together to forgive his ex for many of her wrongdoings while still not forgetting her bad behaviors and maintaining firm boundaries. This would be an example of a lesson about forgiveness and knowing how to protect yourself against further bad encounters by not forgetting what you’ve learned.
One of the definitions of humor is the ability to be funny or to be amused by things that are funny. Things will happen every day that are aggravating and confusing. Humor can be an important factor in determining if your relationship has lasting power.
Trust me, as the drama was happening I didn’t find it very funny. Even weeks later, I still didn’t find it funny. But, today, as my husband and I look back, we can laugh at many of the circumstances we have encountered with his ex over the years.
Think back to situations that have bothered you. Can you find the humor? Can you share this humor with your partner?
Friendship is a strong personal bond between two or more people. Marriage without friendship cannot work. Many people speak about marrying their best friend. This is true and right; marriage without friendship will make the hard times even harder.
This I believe, is the best quality my husband and I have in our relationship. We started our journey together as friends and took time to really bond before we became romantically involved. Even in our darkest times, when we are angry at each other, we still have our friendship to lead us and communicate our feelings. Being best friends keeps us together.
I didn’t have a friendship with my ex; we had a partnership. In fact, we had a great partnership when it came to work and financial issues. But, I didn’t like him and I’m almost positive he didn’t like me. We didn’t share the commonalities friends share and our communication was horrible. When things got tough in our marriage it was easy to turn the other way.
My husband had a great friendship with his ex and I think this made the boundary process even harder for him. Although they weren’t the best of friends after the divorce, he didn’t allow himself to forget the friendship they had as a married couple. Part of his transition to our new marriage was realizing the friendship he shared with his ex was based on some lies, was meant only for a season and acknowledging she abandoned that friendship when divorce papers were signed.
Willpower is strong determination to control your actions and feelings. It requires a strength of character and tenacity, the will to succeed. Every relationship needs willpower whether it’s dealing with finances, kids or the ex. Willpower leads to uniformity, which leads to structure, which leads to peace of mind. Willpower helps in setting firm boundaries and keeping them, willpower defeats being boundaryless.
Often, you will find only one person in the relationship has willpower at certain times. This was hard for our relationship. My husband and I would set a boundary and then loosen up on the rules we set after a period of time. Once that would happen, the ex would resort back to dysfunctional behavior and our problems would start all over again. Often, behaviors exhibited by the ex would escalate as we experimented with setting boundaries.
The key here is to work together and keep each other on the same united track. When one person becomes weak and loosens the boundaries, remind them of the need to keep the rules. Setting and keeping firm boundaries on a continual basis keeps everyone clear of the rules and expectations. It keeps unwanted surprises at a minimum.
Please remember, the transition of loyalty and deep feelings comes slowly in a second marriage. It could be because we’ve been burned already and we are a bit more cautious the second time around. In my case, it was a bit of that, but also my husband loves deeply and gives loyalty without fault. It was hard for him, even after a brutal divorce, to see the dysfunction in their relationship and the need for firm rules.
On the cusp of our marriage ending, we both decided we needed to be firm (not mean) and TOGETHER set and held tight to firm boundaries when it came to the toxin in our marriage. We decided we wanted our marriage and loyalties to lie with each other. We didn’t want to go backwards or allow the past to rule our present and future. What’s hard for people to understand is you don’t have to be mean to set boundaries; you just have to be consistent. Many parents fear the loss of their children or retaliation and this might happen at first but will diminish, as structured change becomes the new norm.
Setting boundaries isn’t an easy task. But, running a new marriage boundaryless is an even harder task. Will you feel guilty about strict boundaries when you start to see normal behavior from the ex? Definitely, YES! Remember to keep the love, stay patient, have faith, truly forgive wrongdoings, see the humor in bad situations, nurture your friendship and encourage willpower. Don’t look back and head towards peace and a great marriage.
Linda is a mom, stepmom, grandma, ex-wife and most importantly, a new wife residing in a coastal town in Oregon. She understands being a stepmom might be the most challenging role you’ve ever played. Linda enjoys sharing her stories of dealing with his ex, her step kids and new husband and loves to hear how they relate to your situations. Linda wants to encourage other stepmoms to never give up their new life role and to always look for the joy!