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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stepfamily Relationships Can Take One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

I'm recovering from a knee injury I suffered while hiking Mount Magazine with my family during Spring Break. When it happened I didn't think it was a big deal, but by the time we returned home, my entire knee was swollen and very sore. I hobbled around on it for several weeks, avoiding exercise that would aggravate it.

After two weeks, I decided it felt good enough to return to my regular routine and began my cycling and weight training classes again at the gym. I quickly found out that was a mistake! My knee swelled up again and felt as sore as the day I injured it. Instead of moving forward with recovery, I took a giant step backward.

Have you experienced that in your step-relationships? I certainly have. About the time I begin thinking I can coast on auto-pilot in my relationship an explosion occurs, followed by an icy demeanor shot my way. It can be triggered by several things including conflict, misunderstanding, unstable emotions, unresolved loss or loyalty conflict with the biological parent. It may not even be my fault, but all of a sudden, the relationship begins moving backward instead of forward.

How do you react when this happens? It's easy to get frustrated, angry or impatient, considering our feelings only, while criticizing the other person's response. The truth is, the other person may be hurting over loss in their family due to death or divorce and simply cannot reach out to us.

When my stepson lost his mother after a year-long battle with cancer, he withdrew from a relationship with me. It took over a year before he was willing to trust and be vulnerable with those around him again. He endured a huge loss that impacted every relationship in his young life.

It's not uncommon to take one step forward and two steps backward in stepfamily relationships. If we want to move forward again, we must be patient and understanding with each other. We cannot force a trusting relationship to happen on our time frame. But we can be assured that we will begin to move forward again if we don't give up.

I haven't given up that my knee will heal, but unfortunately it's taking longer than I want. I will do my part to begin moving foward again toward recovery.

We can do the same thing with our stepfamily relationships.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9



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