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Ryan & Jessica Ronne: Widowhood and Forming a New Family

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
July 10, 2022 10:00 pm

Ryan & Jessica Ronne: Widowhood and Forming a New Family

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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July 10, 2022 10:00 pm

Remarriage after widowhood creates unique struggles. Listen to Ryan and Jess Ronne, parents and stepparents to 8, share with Ron Deal about how insecurities can create conflict in a new marriage after widowhood and how to overcome those struggles.

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Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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Peter Rosenberger
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Focus on the Family
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Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

So here's a question you don't think about everyday get ready so I braced myself, sort of, you know, I've nothing about this, but you know just at the start. Like if if you passed away as we are going today. If you are not alive and could go the other way, but I'm just can pretend if you passed away. Would you consider it an honor. Would you be offended if I get remarried. Welcome to family life today to help you pursue relationships that matter most and Wilson and Dave Wilson and you can find his life or on our family life. His family life today passed away. Would you be offended if I get remarried I go one of two ways I can think were you so happy that I'm gone. And now that you you're going to get remarried or did you love marriage so much that you can wait to get my know if you think it's a good thing or a bed that you're asking is it a compliment when someone gets married after their spouses deceased citizen a good thing.

A compliment because they had a good taste in their mouth of marriage. Yet I think if there's somebody that could probably answer this question better than us. It's our blended family director here at family life Ron deal that Ron is in studio with us today. So welcome to family after they run. I guys always good to be back with you so answer that question run well you know I think it depends on the person but you know there was a famous quote were somebody said the highest compliment you could pay to somebody is that you would want to get married again as if just like and said you so enjoyed marriage because of your time with that person before they passed away that you would want to pursue marriage again some people look at that go know that kind of feel like you just left me behind and moved on without me like you are missing me very much.

So it's right and others would go yeah you know, obviously, as you said, I like where you put that you left a good taste in their mouth and so they're open to it, flip around. What if you left a bitter taste in their mouth and marriage with you was difficult in the last thing they want to do is get married again. Well, that's not a compliment, and the truth is you, you would know better than any of us. This happens quite often. You know, spouse dies, a family husband or wife get remarried. Now the blending if there's kids involved an entire new family. Yes, David happens pretty frequently and I think a lot of times when we talk about blended families. We just sort of assume somebody got divorced beforehand, but that's certainly not always the case. In fact, the same life blended podcast that will relist to apportion to today, I interviewed a couple, Ryan and Jess, Ronnie, who were both widowed actually lost their first spouses to the similar sort of brain cancer and so found themselves each blogging about their grief and then found one another in the process and got married just is an author, by the way she's written a couple of books but her latest is called blended with grit and grace that was something so let's listen. Tell us a little bit about your family well I guess it all started in 2010 when we both lost our first spouses to bring cancer I blogged from Michigan Ryan blog from Oklahoma and a stranger who followed both of us from Pennsylvania reached out to me and said hey, there's this grieving widow where she has three young children. I just think you could really be a source of encouragement to him and the rest is history.

We started emailing and we met and we were married with any year-end.

He moved to Michigan, we adopt each other's kids and we thought we are going to just live happily ever after. However, then there's a however there is a lot more to the story. When you are a blended family or probably any family really. We ended up moving to rural Tennessee couple of years after we were married, had another baby together are anabolic and she makes number eight yes eight children and we lived what we thought was a simple life out in rural Tennessee until it wasn't all that simple anymore.

We have a child with profound special needs in autism and as he aged, it just became more and more difficult. So we move towards Nashville, thinking that would help remedy the situation and there would be more resources and support for Hammon just found really that the South is really lacking and anything for special-needs families and we are in the process of moving back to Michigan right now were actually in a temporary home and building an accessible home for our family to live in in the future so listener you just got a snapshot of this family story and we have a lot to unpack.

Don't wait so this is back up and start unpacking a little bit at a time just getting your book, you say that you met Ryan, you were drawn to him. And then you realize one day that you were grieving one person while simultaneously falling in love with another. I bet both of you were going through a similar journey there.

I'd like for us to just unpack both sides of that. The grieving one person side and the falling in love with the other person side siliceous start with. Who were you grieving and what's that back story while I was grieving my late husband, Jason. He had gone to his cancer journey for three years and in the middle of that we were raising four children actually had an unexpected pregnancy in the middle of all of it as well and raising Lucas some of special-needs. Honestly, I had kind of work through a lot of the stages of grief. I believe by the time he actually passed away, because it had been such a long painful journey for our family and there was a deep sadness when he passed away, but I think there was also something in me that was at peace that he was no longer in pain and suffering and that cancer wasn't a taskmaster in my life anymore because that's really really hard when you have four kids under six. I think I was in a healthier place then Ryan was an outlet. Ryan dive into that little bit by the time my husband passed away, because it had been so long, but I think I jumped into a relationship with Ryan feeling like my grieving was pretty much all wrapped up in a nice little bow and I was ready to move on in life and parts of me were ready, but there were also parts that would spring up out of the middle of nowhere. Like one example I can think of brushing my teeth at night and looking over at the other sank thinking like that sink would never be used again because I was Jason sank and liked their set his toothbrush in his toothpaste so was working through some of that and all I can say for myself is we probably should've gotten some therapy.

I know we used each other as therapists early on and I wouldn't necessarily recommend that they brought out a lot of feelings of insecurity and jealousy as we talked about these people.

We have loved but yet we are falling in love with each other and it was just a really strange place to be.

You know is you're talking reflecting on all those different elements again so much there to unpack and we will will slow down and take a look at each of those little elements but I think for the list or the observation that I just want to make is that any significant loss like the loss of a spouse has so many layers to it. There's so much involved in the length of time that you were grieving actually before he passed away versus somebody whose loss is a little bit shorter or sudden you all of those things influence you the kids the journey and they all have to be unpacked and sometimes when you listen to somebody else's story you're thinking, well that's sort of like mind but not completely like my what yeah nobody stories exactly like yours and so it's okay to absorb what you're hearing today and grab the elements that you can really relate to. So Ryan, it sounds like your story of loss was different than hers. It was very different than my first wife. We are third child in December 2009 and just a month after she started getting headaches and feeling really uncomfortable and we just thought it was pregnancy related to set a baby, but just a week after her 30th birthday.

They diagnosed with a brain tumor and within weeks it hemorrhaged and she was never the same. So she was diagnosed middle of March and April 1. She had the hemorrhage lost a lot of her cognitive skills in and out of hospital just for what four months and then she passed away in August, so I had an eight month old and I hadn't even taken a breath or even thought about death that were you know what, what's next.

It was like I was living you know trying out.

Raise the three kids and basically be a caretaker and a caregiver for my late wife and that it was done and I was, lost and honestly when Jess and I started talking.

I was looking for here, you know, to try to get through this because I really was struggling and not understanding why all of the questions that you have for God just just a couple weeks. I think after she passed away.

My oldest son. She said to me that when we go to get a new mom like he already knew that the space needed to be filled and I had even crossed my mind. You know, but I think I prayed that night and God help me, so I'm not looking to that at all.

And when Jess and I met it was like God just open the store. My heart said there's room for one more. But as we got married got close together. It's like Kimberly sure that I can share those feelings with her at some point I got let go and that was our first year of marriage we do try to be each other's therapist in there is a point we finally just said no more.

Let's go seek.

Somebody also sure the stuff is this is unfair to each other so roundly heard them say a couple times that they used each other as therapists after losing your spouse is that an advisable thing to do. Yeah no it's not okay, and they in hindsight admitted that that's really good about what I would just say to somebody who's listening right now know you don't want to find a new love interest and make them your counselor cannot carry all of your baggage and paying them grief and pour it out on them and expect them to be able to to help you through it. But I gotta say guys. It's kind of a common phenomenon for people to inadvertently sort of put the other person in that I mean think about it. Who wants to stay in pain any longer than you have to write so one of the attractions of a new relationship. First of all, is it moves me out of the pit of pain.

Oh, this gives me something to look forward to with my day. This gives me something to be happy about. So there's this push pull dynamic. I write about this and in my book dating and the single-parent yet to be wary of that.

If pain is pulling you back into the pit and you want to get away than you want to try to run away into a new relationship in the new relationship is pulling you in that direction. Neither one of those dynamics is a good way to decide who you date or what you share with them you lose your objectivity when you're running away from sadness you not really objective about the qualities of this person, or the new relationship that you're developing, so it really is advisable to spend time grieving not with this person with an objective person, a counselor, friend, a pastor, somebody could really just portal out there with and they don't have a dog in the hunt. They can be honest with you, and you can just sort of works through your grief without any agendas attached to it.

That's very important.

I can imagine though it's pretty common.

You know, for a grieving husband grieving wife to end up finding somebody that has similar grief and again you know better, and I would but I would guess that happens quite often sometimes end up married. Sometimes they don't. But it's just like you're attracted to one another because you've gone through something similar and you can share a common bond in your thinking they get me again. It I love it though.

When people get objective about this.

I got a taste since this podcast came out with a woman from the UK. Contact us and said we were listing the podcasts. I'm dating a man he is newly widowed that it's only been a few months and after listening to podcast in the Ronnie's talk. We decided that we needed to not date right now. She needs more time to grieve the passing of his first wife. I need a little more space I need to not be his helper get caught up into that and so words can take a break and after a year and a reconnect and decide whether were in a better place and maybe start dating again. I gotta tell you, there's so much wisdom in that.

It's hard to do, though it is that maturity I think it's also helpful for your kids as their grieving as well and walking through some the same pain and that was a great toss and because the next section is so at this .10 years. Looking back at that first year you were looking for something in the other that you now feel like was inappropriate. What we looking for what it what were you needing the other person to give you. I think in a lot of ways we were lead often like seek validation even we we shared everything the good the bad the stuff that we didn't necessarily like in our first marriage as an seeking validation for you know, like that was constrained and that marriage wasn't that certain thing like like the one I can think of one example we would both go to bed without our first spouses and entering the new marriage.

Neither one of us particularly liked that trait in our previous relationships and we can discuss then we are like we don't want to bring that to this relationship.

Let's always try to go to bed together type of thing, but we over shared. I I know way too much about her and Ryan knows way too much about Jason like those should event sacred memories to that relationship but we just went too far and that would kinda hunt us in the coming years.

10 years and work were over it so there's an upside and a downside to sharing write the upside might be in the immediate you get that validation that you're looking for about some feeling you had about the previous marriage. But the downside is then sort of burdens. The current relationship with now thoughts of seeing the other person with their former spouse that right that type of thing yes and I mean looking back to it's all tied to insecurity and I didn't have enough time to have a shared history together.

So what are conversations tended to gravitate towards where the shared histories we had with these other people which does bubble up these insecurities and then you have the whole rest of the world who has this model of never speak ill of the dead. So us sinful people in a sinful world and relationship that were trying to figure out and everybody else in the whole world is looking at these two people who passed away and they're now on pedestals of perfection which we can never live up to you so it's just all this stuff that had we had like somebody come alongside us and help us work through some of that. I think it would've been really beneficial so if you were talking to somebody Ryan right now who's listening who is widowed, perhaps single or perhaps in a new marriage blended family situation. What advice would you give them about sharing regarding previous press. I think it's really that's really difficult question. I think therapy is this really key to that because when you first meet somebody they're more open-minded to assure you I want to know everything and then it's like oh no, want to know that except for that, you know, so I think Laura gets thrown back in your face in an argument like what you said she did. That is, that's where the difficulties come in is when you have to you feel like well I'm not good.what he was good, or vice versa. And it's like snow have to try to live up to that or I'm to be costly compared to that. I think the best thing is to communicate early on in those relationships and just be cautious.

You wouldn't talk about your exes before you got married the first time very openly. But I as we were married and happily married. We felt like's permission to assure all the good stuff and it's like oh well there.

Sainted know yes I can do no wrong, and they can even defend themselves.

Yes, so it was a challenge, you know, one of the things I'm hearing you say this is some we talked about on this podcast before and it's I call it the color of your us if we could just give you a simple illustration then I'd love for you guys to just react to what I hear you saying so. The color of your us is a combination of who to people are when they get married.

So if your yellow and you Mary read well your us is orange right it is some combination of the two of you, your personalities, your temperaments, your gifting sure and then your us is that working out of how we do life together. It's not only our togetherness and our passion and our connectedness. But it's also our style and our ritual and just the little details of life and how we work out how we go to bed together. You know whether you go first.

I go first.

That's all a part of the color of your us well you're used to orange because you are yellow you married red and you had orange while you're still yellow when you move into a second or subsequent marriage. But this time you married blue but guess what your color of your us is green and it's different and will green is not orange.

And sometimes that's really good because as you said, there's things you didn't care for in the previous us that you can change now, but sometimes there's other things you did like, but then there's a comparison thing will wait a minute. Are you saying you still want orange will because were green and were not going to be orange, so does that mean you're unhappy with with our us. That's what I hear you saying it is and I think even you know what say you, me and my first wife were green and I was the blue one and I kinda melded towards the green a little bit so I'm not I'm not blue anymore yeah whenever when I lost her and met Jess, I thought I could redo this I don't have to be dark blue where I don't have to be green. I can be whatever it is I want to be and I think my personality and in some of those things that I held back my first marriage came out in the open and just give credit to for a lot of that stuff because I didn't communicate very well at all round one, but I learned how to communicate with her because it wasn't an option but I think yeah that's a tough one like trying to meld those colors. The first time around, and then you have to come to regroup and start over what it would you think you have always been extremely adaptable, which has worked well in our relationship because I'm not like I pretty even keel and have always like what you see is what you get. Like you say it like I didn't force them to communicate, but it was highly encouraged like you need to open your mouth and start tying how you're feeling tired this is gonna work so you did not. I would say like I was blue in the first marriage and I believe in this and I don't know where you are now known. I do very like a chameleon. Sometimes good sometimes yeah this is good. You know, I think the take away is every of us has a color to it has a huge to it.

There be things that are similar to previous relationship. Things will be different but it's the comparison and the contrast and that's a space where insecurity can thrive is in the comparisons and so you need to guard against sharing too much information, don't you think it's also an internal thing like you also have to guard against comparing in your own head. This relationship that person versus the other person while we say, you know, when we got married.

It was the two became one not before became one man. 10 years later we don't have these problems at all. Like I said earlier, I think it's those first couple of years. We are not sure of your place in the relationship you have all these insecurities as time goes on like we have such a shared history now, and we've been through everything together at this point and we just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and I was married to Jason for 10 years of as well. So now I have as much time with Brian as I had had with Jason and I would just say to anybody listening at time does heal a lot of those insecurities and wounds, but you have to give it enough time keep keep working at it because if you check out at your five or six have no idea how much better it could've really gotten 10, 11, 12 years I think that's a good word we say that to our listeners all the time most blended family couples quick before it ever has a chance to give good as I don't give the cooking process enough time to really get there and we kinda laugh with eight kids like that we've threatened. I cannot do this anymore darned often then it's like, but I don't want to do a kids by myself.

Honestly, like the eight kids kept us together to a place where were now like in a really good place and persistent in writing we learn. We learned how to talk about that stuff to when we did share things we finally did decide that you know I had 14 years of experience with that person before I met her and she said I want to know more about you will then if you want to know more about me enough to know about those last 14 years. So what we learn to do this instead of saying when we were in. You know this place her at that place are doing this. It was just when I was in over there doing this and then it felt better like it wasn't just everything I my whole identity was with my first wife. I still had my as I listened to that I think that the tricky situation. Boy, I can feel myself feeling insecure as the new spouse wondering if I enough for is good or even with his life richer with his first wife and I can feel a little bit insecure I thought Ryan's observation was really good. You know if I'll always casting my past. In light of my relationship with my first wife and her family and who we were together that it's sort of like my wife now just can't see me in the other way am I an individual or was I just a husband to her. So, to begin to tell stories and be sensitive to your new wife and new spouse and say it in a way that doesn't necessarily make the other person feel that insecurity around how long does it typically take to get beyond the comparison to your former spouse to like burying that not an bad way, but I have to move on is that I years that could be of much longer.

You know, I don't know that there is ever a time where you get past.

I just think you carry the past with you in the present. You honor the memories continue there moments where it may be, there's gonna be a reflection that brings a smile to your face.

You know a good memory. That's not dishonoring to your current spouse just now is a good moment in time.

And yet, Ron.

I'm wondering if that was my dad and now he's not referring to my mom who passed away any longer. I'm not sure. As a child, how that would feel.

Yes, exactly. And that's what we talked about in the rest of our conversation were to come back to that tomorrow yes so we have a second day that you don't want to miss.

But if you want to jump in right now and go to family life you'll find a link there to our podcast network and you can hear the whole story but you know what just wait jumping tomorrow. With this you been listening to David and Wilson with Ron deal on family life today. We been hearing clips from episode 67 of the family life blended podcast is part of the family life podcast network which you can learn more about family life

If you are in ministry and wondering how you can help couples like Ryan and Jessica work through grief and a new family. We love it if you consider joining us at this year's Summit on stepfamily ministry this year, the focus is on helping ministry leaders better understand loss and grief in blended families event is October 13-14 in Phoenix Arizona and you can find out tomorrow. Steven and Wilson will continue their conversation with Ryan and Jessica Ronnie to talk about how to deal with children grieving that's tomorrow on behalf of David and Wilson. I'm Shelby Abbott will see back next time for another edition of family life to family like today's a production of family life accrue ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most

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