The word compromise brings memories of the difficult decisions my husband and I had to make, early in our marriage. Jack (not real name) had two grown children and I had two young teens and a second grader. Jack’s version of discipline was much different than mine and led to arguments. He was much more strict which caused resentment and alienation. The children picked up on my feelings and showed little respect for Jack, which made the situation worse. In an effort to correct the situation, we sought a marriage counselor. This proved just as difficult and, after seeing three professionals, we decided to work things out, ourselves.
It wasn’t easy. We agreed to compromise on decisions involving the kids. This was extremely difficult for me as I had been divorced for 8 years and was used to disciplining on my own. I winced at some of the consequences and rules Jack laid on my children, but in an effort to show a unified front, supported my husband’s decisions. Jack wasn’t abusive but rigid which caused frustration for me and my children. My son was the first to move out. As much as I loved my son, I was relieved. I knew he was safe and I felt a sense of peace in our home. There were a few issues with the other two kids, but time has erased most of those bad memories.
Once the children grew up and married, Jack was kind and generous to each. Grandchildren are welcome in our home and Jack enjoys spoiling them. I wish we had been part of a stepfamily support group, in those days. The only thing that kept us together was our determination to make our marriage work and to compromise instead of insisting to have our own way.