Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Generosity of Spirit (By Ron)

About 80% of the couples in my practice come in with communication, sex, or money issues. Every now and then a couple presents with step-children problems or questions. These can be from blended families or those in which only one partner brought children to the relationship. Regardless of the circumstances, the problems are often significant.

When Gayle and I married I already had four children, the youngest of whom was in her teens. Not surprisingly, none of them were happy that their mom and I had divorced. They also weren’t happy that I was marrying Gayle (or anyone else for that matter.) Gayle knew it was likely she would face problems like most step-parents.

So, how did she approach the potential for problems with my kids? She "loved" (a verb) them. Over time she grew to "love" (a noun) them. She went through quite a bit of “not being accepted” behavior and did not let it turn her away from me or my kids. I could see how it hurt her but she continued to hang in there. She knew there was no “us” without them.

It takes a great deal of generosity of spirit to be able to persevere in the face of non-acceptance. She could see they simply didn’t know how to handle what had happened. Although it felt like it at times, she knew it wasn't personal. Her arms were and are always open to them and their families. Doing it in their own different ways, they have also come to love (both the verb and noun) her even though she isn’t and doesn’t try to be their mother. They recognize how giving she is and are able to give back to her.

We consciously made the decision to not have children together. My kids are her “bonus” children and she loves them dearly. Together we have 12 grandchildren. They know "Gigi" only as their grandparent. They don’t question it. They know the depth of love and generosity of spirit that Gayle has for them.

Ours is not a particularly unique situation. Quite often, however, relationships fail because a partner cannot endure the isolation that comes from being the “outsider.” It takes a strong and generous spirit to survive and thrive as has Gayle.

1 comment:

julieandtheboys said...

As the "teenager" in this story, I had to comment. You couldn't have described what Gayle did better. She never forced herself on me, but she always made herself available. I was DETERMINED to hate her until I died, and after a while, I realized I just couldn't. She was loving and kind to me, and she understood WHY I was in pain. Not a lot of other people in my life did, so she was very unique.

I can see now what it must have cost her to keep herself in the cross-hairs of our anger so deliberately. Yet, I wouldn't trade this relationship for anything, so I am thankful that she was so determined to love us until she loved us.