There's a funny little thing that can happen with people you love that drags the relationship down without you even noticing it – until after the fact.
I just came back from visiting my daughter Sophie, who moved out a short time ago into her own cool, little abode with roommates just north of the university. She's got the flu (or maybe just a cold) right now and it felt good to take her some soup, a few groceries, give her a hug, and hang out on her bed gabbing (while internally blessing my immune system to do its mighty job).
You've got to make an effort to stay connected to them, because life rearranges itself to fill up any empty spaces with busyness and details and new problems and responsibilities, and next thing you know, it's been days since you've last really talked!
We all know what that's like when it happens with the children or partner or friends in our lives — and it's actually not any different with these dual-family relationships either. David and Carol were in Germany recently for almost a month visiting relatives. And because of one technical issue or another, we never were able to talk on the phone or by skype the entire time, which was weird.
For no good reason, a part of me starting thinking, is one of them mad at me? Is anything the matter? And irrationally, part of me also started feeling annoyed, like, fine! hmph!
Totally groundless reactions, but that's what our little hamster brains do in the absence of information sometimes, doesn't it?
When Carol came back a week early to teach a workshop, I made a note of her return, forgot to call her to check in, and then began to notice, hey — she hasn't called me either!
Stupid stuff. Because really, the poor woman was totally jet-lagged and hopped straight into teaching a three-day, all-day painting workshop and was actually out of her mind with fatigue, so it's not like the very first thing she's going to do is call me!
And why hadn't I picked up the phone either?
When we finally did talk, it was wonderful to catch up and we were both clearly happy and excited to do so. I'd missed her!
Same thing with David….
They came over one evening and we all hung out, slouched on the couches in the living room; talking about their trip, laughing, the latest things on our minds with life and romance and the girls and what Jacob (their 4 year old son) thought of Germany. Time flew by until we all realized it was late and they had a long car ride home, so we hugged good-bye.
It was soooo good to connect with people I love and care about. They're my family! It may sound bizarre to people who are also in divorced situations, but David and Carol are actually two of my closest friends and I know they feel the same way.
The combination of time and distance in a relationship can lend itself to imagined problems where there are none, even with people you're close to.
So why in the world do our minds do this?!
Is it just a function of general neurosis?
Or are we trying to protect ourselves against any potential problems, so we can head them off at the pass?
What do you think?
If you're working on improving your relationship with the mom or stepmom, check and see if this dynamic might be at work…. If so, that's actually a good thing, because it's one extra burden you get to shrug off and simply toss to the ground.
What a relief.
Wishing you strong connections and a happy family life!
© 2009 Jennifer Newcomb Marine All Rights Reserved