After five happy years of single parenting, I married the love of my life and became a wife and parenting partner all at once. It’s been an amazing journey, but I’d be a fool to expect it to be easy.
I love being married to my husband and my son loves having him as his dad just as much as he loves us. So much so, if you ask our son what his earliest memory in life is he will say it’s when he met my husband. For him, his memory of life began when we became a family. If you ask my husband and me, we’d both say we are truly happy and excited about life together, though as adults it’s a little easier to remember the way life was before meeting, and that inevitably means this is a time of big transitions.
Naturally, as with any major change in life, marriage after single parenting needs a little extra care as everyone adapts. No amount of love and devotion could prevent these challenges from happening, though it is exactly what helps us work through them. As we’ve faced these transitions as a couple, we both knew that we were in a similar boat as many blended and non-traditional families. I’ve closely clung to every bit of advice others have passed on to us along the way, at times like a lifeline.
With that said, I’d love to share a bit of what I’ve come to realize about marriage after single parenting and the one thing that makes it all worth it. Many times in relationships, we find it helpful to talk to friends as we navigate new territory. For us, we’ve found that our marriage territory can be a bit different than our average friend, so finding support beyond those in our circle has been important. With that said, thank you for those of you who have opened your hearts and experiences to us on this journey- alike or different, community changes us for the better.
The most important: Finding time for your partner won’t be easy.
Most couples have that pivotal time as just the two of them before marrying and having children. For a blended family, you won’t have this and you’ll need to be creative in order to find time together. Communicating expectations around this need is absolutely necessary. Now, before you worry too much, this challenge is actually a huge blessing in disguise. We are forced to prioritize time as a couple early on in a way that many couples tend to forget about after having children. For us this means monthly dates, daily and weekly connecting time at home and at least one trip away each year as a couple. We love it!
The most surprising: Learning to share your child will take a lot of work.
After five years of single parenting, I was used to focusing all my emotional energy and attention on my son. I was also used to him focusing all of his love and energy on me. When I married my husband and we became a family, it was clear that it would take time and patience to learn how to not only share parenting responsibilities with my husband, but to also share my parenting heart. Thankfully my husband is a loving and patient man and has been willing to help me through this transition, which is no easy feat for someone who was used to doing everything on her own!
The most interesting: There will be a lot of questions about your family.
Whether it’s a stare or a direct inquiry, blended families can draw some curiosity from well-intended bystanders. In our family, questions about adoption, race, biological parents and the names we call each other commonly come from caring friends and even strangers. Not all families in our position look the same or blend themselves together the same as we do, so their curiosity is understandable, and in my opinion, pretty acceptable. Though you have every reason to be proud of sharing your family’s story, there will be times when you wish everyone “just knew” how your family worked.
The most challenging: It will take time for everyone to establish their roles in your home.
Just as it has taken time for me to know how to be a parent with my husband, it has also taken our son time to adjust to being in a dual-parent home. From a young age he learned to attach to one parent and never needed to share his love (among other emotions!) with more than one parent. Likewise, there have been huge changes for my husband as well. Adjusting to these new roles takes time and it’s been important to be gracious as we allow the others to discover what everyone is comfortable with when it comes to discipline, routines and how we relate to others in our new family. At times you will need to allow your partner to guide what they are comfortable with and trust that these roles are developing in a healthy way.
The most rewarding: Every challenge is worth the effort because our family is forever.
That’s right. It is not easy, in fact, it’s much more difficult than I ever imagined, but it gets better with time and it’s certainly worth it. When I married my husband, we not only became husband and wife, we also became a family of three. My husband went from bachelor to husband and father faster than most men do. It takes a lot of courage to step into those roles and it’s required a great deal of bravery for all three of us to make these transitions together. But, it is worth it because our family is building a foundation that will last us the rest of our lives.
I’d say we’re all pretty lucky to have each other!
Have you gone from single mom to married mom? What challenges and joys have you faced? What advice can you pass on to those of us just starting out on this journey?