Live, Love, Blend:
Is Your Man GUILTY?
When two people who are already parents get married, they unintentionally bring something into the marriage that if left unchecked, has the power to tear it apart: GUILT.
Why the guilt? Well somewhere along the way, whether it be during the divorce or when we started dating someone new, or made the decision to get remarried, we put our own wants before the needs of our kids. I’m not trying to call anyone out here, not am I saying it was done intentionally. We’re human, and try as we might to be selfless, I’ve yet to meet a parent (especially a divorced parent) who at one time or another didn’t let their own desires cloud their judgement.
From my early years with motherhood (pre-blendie) I considered guilt to be something carried mostly by the women. Stay-at-home moms feeling guilty for not bringing home income. Working moms feeling guilty for the hours spent away from home, or the reverse guilt that’s felt when missing work to attend child-related activities.
Now, however, my eyes have been opened to a whole new aspect of the guilt equation. I call it “Absent Daddy Guilt”, and it is a force strong enough to bring a grown man to his knees. It’s important to recognize it and deal with it at its core before it really does a number on the health of your blended family and your marriage.
“He’s tougher on my kids than he is on his own.”
“He helps his kids out of every jam. They’ll never learn how to stand on their own two feet.”
“He let’s his ex-wife manipulate him into paying for everything their kid wants.”
“Anytime he can get away from work he goes to have lunch with his daughter, but he never even thinks about coming to have lunch with me.”
The men in these scenarios are not doing anything inherently wrong, UNLESS the motivation is one of guilt. If he feels the need to make up for the fact that he’s not been there 24/7 for his kids then he’s operating with guilt. If he’s afraid to be tough on his kids, or to say “no” to them or their mothers because he’s making up for lost time, then he’s adopted an unhealthy mode of operation. If he’s choosing his kids over his wife every time, he’s not putting his marriage first.
Are you seeing how tricky this can get? How it can sneak into situations that appear completely innocent? Guilt can be a very self-absorbed emotion because it means that the guilty party thinks he is solely responsible for the happiness and well-being of the children.
How do you deal with Absent Daddy Guilt? Very carefully! If you are always the one pointing out your husband’s guilty behaviors, then the focus will turn to you as the problem. A better approach is to talk to your husband at a time when you’re not dealing with a specific situation and brainstorm ways to handle these scenarios when they come up. Perhaps use a situation you see another family dealing with as a way to discuss how each of you would want to handle it if you were in their shoes.
Also, pray for your man! Pray that he would be self-confident in his parenting so that he never feels the need to make up for any past behaviors. Pray that he understands grace; it’s given freely that we may give it to each other, and to ourselves. Pray that he will always seek greater wisdom with eyes wide open.
And look on the bright side, as challenging as this guilty baggage can be to unpack, at least you know that your man has a good heart. He wouldn’t feel guilty if he didn’t care. Gotta love a man with heart!