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July 11, 2022 10:00 pm
Remarriage after widowhood creates unique struggles. Listen to Ryan and Jess Ronne as they continue to conversation on how to overcome struggles in their new roles.
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In 2010. We both lost our first spouses to brain cancer and when I married Ryan and he brought loads and loads and loads of paraphernalia from his previous life into my new home and I didn't like most of it, and in particular these bright red Teflon pops and so one day I packed them up in a red there in a goodwill box and he Solomon it an argument ensued into your house should be a sanctuary of peace and it didn't feel like that for me because it wasn't my stuff and it was like all tied to another woman.
Welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I am and will send it on Dave Wilson and you can find us if it we live today.com or on our family life. This family life today. If I died. How would you help our children. Three.
Oh my goodness, honestly, I can imagine my life without you.
That's right, the empty wooden it would be completely empty. Of course, that's a reality for anyone of us that could happen at any time, but think of my grief in my loss and then the drying process that with our sons in their married and they get their own kids in a be incredibly hard and I immediately went to. What if there were 10 years old or 14 years older six years old, you know, we had to watch that happen when your sister died you know that would be an extremely hard thing to do and then you know you think what if I remarried me. There's an idea you know and then yet the process and how to get excited just like you got one process of the grieving process. But if you brought in another family. It's a whole other world and you know you need help. You need somebody that deals with this kind of stuff every single day to get an answer from them and we got that guy on with this today around deal, who directs our blended family ministry here family life. Today he is sitting in the studio with this Ron welcome back. Thank you guys always good to be with you that I see you smile in there. It's like this the kind of stuff you write about you talk about your with families who are walking through this kind of stuff all the time.
So how does a grieving spouse deal with the grief of losing their husband or wife, and then maybe blending a family. After that, you know, sometimes I think single parents were thrown into that situation work really hard to connect with her kids and to grieve out loud with their children and II think, by the way, that's tip number one you you want to grieve out loud with them because they hear and see you grieve and the words that come out of your mouth and the prayers and the angst and the sadness and the sorrow and that gives permission to them to feel the same and to express those things. The next thing you know you sort of grieve together which is a really important thing, but sometimes I think grieving parents feel wow I'm so overwhelmed, you keep it all together and then I think I'm going to keep it together. So my kids will keep it together and I really think that's upside down. If you just go stoic, then your kids like oh, the rule is we don't tell each other were set were sad that we don't grieve with one another.
We just all have to do it in our bedrooms all by herself. Now we don't want that.
Which is why this conversation that we started yesterday a family life blended podcast with Ryan and Jess Ronnie talking about how they were both widowed found each other got married form to blended family by the way, was a complex family eight children between the two of them and on the day they married 22 grandparents connected to those eight children.
How is how is that possible that's I know I know you, you have to ask them. But there parents had divorced, and multiple divorces and so there were stepparents and former stepparents, and you don't but grandparents are still were invested in the lives of these eight children think about family grieving. How many people is that I mean already. Where up to 30+ we haven't counted cousins or uncles or anybody yet. Obviously it's hard to manage.
You can only do what you can do and so the kids within your household is where you got a focus by the way, just saying that makes me think of one other thought one of the things we know about children is that, especially young ones are sort of black-and-white about grief and they make so they lost a parent and its they know it and they feel it yet they don't really get their heads around it until they turn into a teenager more until they turn 24 and their graduating college and life has a new turn and all of a sudden they're missing their mother for the first time in a new way. And that's when the sadness comes out. I know in my own family. I didn't lose a spouse, but I lost a child and I know my other two boys as the years have rolled on were now approaching your 13 since her son Connor died I've seen my other two boys grieve in different ways at totally different times and so is one of those things where you not really sure when it's gonna pop where it's going to pop what form it's gonna take and make you walk with God you pray about it and then when you see it you try to step into that space telescope. Find out how the Ronnie's dealt with their grief.
The complications of blending this family in a whole new reality. Grief is so individual.
The way listener response to their grief journey can be totally different than yours. They may not be as black-and-white. It just may not be as simple in the ring is stayed on their finger for really long time.
There's a lot of good ways to grief. I think that's one of the strange things about grief is that any new grief journey has a life of its own.
But if you don't know how to grieve you kind of question how you grieve, then you're like my doing this right should I be doing this I was doing – to be feeling this. Should I not be feeling that well, that's not the point know it is your journey, you just try to hold onto God in the midst of it and stay faithful with him. That's the one thing you definitely need to try to strive for but the expressions of grief are, very so much more about your children, so we are Artie heard from write a little bit in terms of when your kid said when we get another mom I love you speak at some point to whether that made you feel permission to move on. Like how did you interpret that whole thing, but what about the others. Obviously, here I am somewhere in there that felt okay right but what about the other kids headed they grief and what were their responses to a new person coming and there were all that change and transition. While Caleb had asked me the same thing mom. When do you think you're going to get us another dad and I was like honey it's not like I can just go to Walmart. I'm glad you told them that like one. I am a 33-year-old widow with four kids. Like I'm not a hot commodity apparently was a guy out there. Honestly, our beginning years. It was not that challenging weeds. Were you really they were really young and I think that worked in our favor.
Yes, we did get them into grief groups with other children.
We got them into therapy and then we moved to rural Tennessee and it just kind of felt like everything was God like this is our new family.
We relied really heavily on one another and we had a lot of fun.
I would say as the kids are aging were going through so many things that we had never anticipated as their becoming teenagers and having questions about their identity and kinda raging out you know about real mom not real mom does types of realities you in the past couple of years it has been far more difficult where the kids are concerned than it ever was in their younger years.
I think we started off we didn't miss really want to be a stepfamily is one of your family. So talk to them about changing the name her kids and let them make that decision on their own when they were ready and if that was something I wanted to do. We just wanted to be one and we just let them talk. We let them tell us whatever they felt we were emotional in front of them wouldn't hide behind anything so I think they they did better.
But she said when they were really little they dislike acted like this was normal. Right.
Okay good is our new family. I know this my new dad. This is our new house, and all these immigrants to play with you notes I brought siblings in his right siblings like fine mesh so well okay and by the way young children.
It's pretty common for them to do so if the kids were talking to me right now you if you guys were not in the room and the kids were just talking to me and I asked them so. As of late. I hear you guys have started asking new questions and having new feelings. What commentary would you give me on this whole family journey over they say now, we've point blank asked some of them.
My two oldest graduated and I asked our oldest, you know, what did you think of your childhood. I'm just like my own insecurities that you feel like we gave you a good childhood and was great at anything you would do different or did you feel like we gave you enough time was a good childhood. Mom got usually easiest our teenage girls are probably have a lot more to say to you. There's big feelings there right now I think honestly to me it's it's all outside influence.
I think they've handled it very well. It's when everybody else steps in and finds out like their new teacher is like what it know your mom died and then they want to feel sorry for them and then they start. Kids are like they're part of a big family and they're going wait a minute, can I benefit from this summer, so if I make this more than it is more that I feel will I get more attention than a few of them have really embraced that and then was grandparents you know try to reach out and remind them I don't don't forget, and I don't forget about this person and we don't we don't allow that either but we don't.
When I get to bring it up to try to make them side and I think a lot of the outside influence is done so the girls are processing fresh new in this season of life that is definitely something we teach grief is developmental and kids will continue to grieve it every season of their life and will be a new filter on it. A new dynamic around it. You know other people speaking into that. It is what it is, it's never going to go away that will always be the case in every season of their life and in your life and so one of the things we generally advise people and I love your reaction… Just keep the grief conversation going, like whenever something pops you go with it.
Yeah, I think we do and where back to looking at therapy again and some grief groups again and it's just it's sticky dynamics and with our girls to my biological 14-year-old falls in between his bio 16-year-old and 11-year-old son that can get tricky and we've seen to as they've aged more of this loyalty towards the bios that when they were younger. They all get smashed and they had fun and they played in, but we were seeing that movement towards the bios who feel safe now and then you know both of our youngest have Apsley no recollection of this person who was their father or mother, and I think that's really painful that they're trying to work through that and one other thing. All of the kids everything they think about in terms of late mom or dad is also again through that lens of sainthood. So if I asked them to clean their room or I get upset about something or whatever it my mom when I never know what ever done that and it's like she what she would've been a mom and he he's taken the rain with those conversations I don't necessarily feel like that's my place, but he'll sit down and say no your mom.
One of you know Russ did you do so. Blood talks to blood. That's a good guessable yes. So it's even more strange to think about the youngest children who don't have any memories of their biological parent and so they don't really know where their loyalties lie.
And so there siblings may be going.
Hey, aren't you on our team.
Well what's going but I'm also on their team.
Like I don't really know yeah I can totally see how that this would create some and then you throw some attachment issues under the pot as well and I mean this is the journey of grief. I mean if there's a big take away that's blended family does not repair what was lost. It create something new, something different that has its own life its own set of relationships and you have to continue to grieve what has been lost developmentally long children different seasons of life. It just is. It's not a statement about you did it wrong or you should have done it this way or that way, or the timing of get don't do that to yourself. I think far too many people start unraveling their own story when they experience hiccups.
That's not helpful and is not accurate. Everybody experiences this in one form or another. It's just my God, how do we handle this. Let's walk through that was so helpful for me to hear.
Thinking about my sister who passed away and left her four sons that were ranging in age from 20 to 11 and I've never had that thought they might all grieve at different times and it may look different for each one, and this lightbulb is going off in my head as as I watch them become man that's very, very true, but I did know that was normal and I have an image in my head in our personal family situation and it's Nana and I and our other two boys walking out of the hospital. Moments after Connor was declared my oldest son took the hand of his younger brother four years apart at the age of 14 and 10 of the 14-year-old Braden walks Brendan out of the hospital and he was the big brother who cared for his younger brother Braden didn't cry cry twice in the next six months. Brendan cried a lot. Brendan struggled and worried and fretted for who else is going to die.
Lots of things poured out of him, but Braden cared for his younger brother.
Fast forward a number of years. Braden goes college and he unravels and that's when his grief comes out he'd been in a curing mode for so long that he just didn't know how to let it loose it's things like that that will impact the timing the pace the expression of grief and sadness for adults and four kids and so you can't program it. There's no way anybody can tell you this is how it's gonna go every child's different. You look for it. You try to step into this space with kids and give them permission to share but to some degree.
You just have to wait till it's there and then you go with it.
Yeah I man here in a story while I mean the question would be if I'm the stepdad or mom. What we do, how do we help our kids process well. Plus let's unpack step into their grade 5F said that a couple times what is actually mean well you can be intentional to go into those spaces in a blended family.
Imagine the stepdad saying this to stepchildren, your dad's birthday's coming up and you know I just love hearing the stories about your dad, but also know this is a hard time you'd love to be celebrating your dad this coming Friday, but he's not here is once you know I'm sorry your pain is real. Let's do something on him. What can we do and by the way, if you don't want me to be there that's fine. I just want to help you guys on your dad how can we do that to you just creating permission for expressions of grief and that coming from the stepdad makes all kinds of other statements things like, I'm not competing with your dad, your relationship with your dad even though he's deceased is a good one and I want to honor him and I want to encourage your relationship with connection to your memories of him were not competing.
That's an important statement that helps kids know okay. You're not trying to erase and replace my debt. It's those sorts of things that then tells a child at the age of 10 or 15 or six I can talk about my dad and I'll have to worry about other people's feelings when I do that that is what helps release grief.
Another way to help step in the kids grief is when you see something you hear something you hear from third party that the child is talking about their deceased parent, and I'll find a way to bring that up and just go and I you know. Imagine sums going on for I saw some sadness in your eye. Could you help me with that when you feeling and you intentionally go there you intentionally say the name of the person who's gone, you you do those things. Hoping that the child feels comfortable to give expression. Some children they'd rather draw a picture. No special young ones they'd rather do something creative to sort of give expression to their sadness. Older teenagers and young adults. They can put words on it just given permission and let them let them get it out the vigil that I keep seeing in my mind. Ron is as a parent or a stepparent you're continually opening that door conversation to relationship. I think what we can do is we can feel awkward and we don't know what to say and so we just leave the door closed. That's in your sink is to help just opened the door. I like that that's so practical. What you're saying and it does take courage because it is you just said and it's awkward and you don't always have the words and you're kind of afraid of what they might say. And so you say a prayer find your courage and you turn a corner and talk about goes from. You get a whole chapter on this and that. I really appreciate it a lot. I talk about ghosts a lot in my previous writing often though is connected to a divorce narrative where you have that ghost of pain and heartache sitting on her shoulder, of how the relationship came apart. This is a little different when it's the ghost of a relationship that was good. It was happy that was family was complete. There was something there. I'm not saying it was a perfect marriage. I'm just saying it was all right. It didn't unravel. Let's talk around those things that sort of Honshu. As you move into a new relationship. Just use tell a story about red cooking pots. Could you tell our listeners out of the great story well when I married Ryan and he brought loads and loads and loads of paraphernalia from his previous life into my new home paraphernalia and lots of it is a bit of a hoarder, and I didn't like most of it.
To be honest, it it's nothing against her. She liked loud bright colors red, orange, yellow, I don't like I'm more of a neutral Pottery Barn tame girl and I would look at this stuff and just want to vomit. I didn't like it all over my house and in particular these bright red Teflon pots that he had bought her for her birthday was one of the nicest gifts he had ever gotten her and he put them up in our new cupboards and he doesn't cook or bake anything in our family that all falls on me and so every time I'm making a nice dinner for my family. I'm using these red pots that I think they're ugly yet lots of reasons to really do not like these things, and the AC was much deeper.
I mean we all understand that. And so one day I packed them up in a red error in a goodwill box and he saw men. It an argument ensued what you know.
Why would you get rid of these.
There are hundreds of dollars year pots were crap when you entered this marriage thing where I shopped in garage sales and I said I don't like him, like all this stuff all over my house that doesn't make my house feel homey, you know, your house should be a sanctuary of peace and it didn't feel like that for me because it wasn't my stuff was it was like all type to another woman he had had an intimate relationship with, and I didn't feel like that was fair is that the deeper issue for now. Yeah, for sure you and I didn't like it either. You need to get rid of them.
Yeah, and he didn't want to get rid of and did you interpret that as he does want to get rid of her. Yeah, yeah, that'll take our place. It was a pretty nasty fight, but it did it did work out later on because what it did is brought attention to me that I was unaware had no idea what she was doing like it was like useful to get rid all my stuff, like it had nothing to do with noted she didn't like it, or whatever I I was totally oblivious to the meaning behind it and I honestly don't think it came out that argument. I think it came out later was I'm not even sure she knew deep down why she want to get rid of them so badly. But you know on my side of it. I grew up with nothing growing up, my mom, my dad was gone and my mom raised me and my sister and she got married later on as I became a teenager, but it was it was hard like we had to work from the time we could and you don't know my good stuff when you don't throw away good stuff and I spent in a lot of energy and time figuring out you know exactly what the buyer and all that stuff so it was important to me but it had nothing to do with the intimacy of it just felt it was just more about that's good quality stuff. Don't don't just give it away. Yeah when it comes to symbols and meaning like that at you and I just invite her listener when something like that rises up inside you and you have a red cooking pot argument, ask yourself what's going on with me. What is underneath this. What is driving me to really be worried about this and concerned about what this means to the other person what is it revealing me and usually there's something there, whatever that strong emotion is that pain or fear that something you have to learn how to deal with and invite God to help you with it.
It sounds like you guys have discovered a new truth about pots. Sometimes they are symbolic of prior relationships, but it doesn't necessarily have an implication for whether or not you have a strong relationship. Have you gotten kind of around that. Yeah I think so yeah I hold onto that bitterness for quite a while, though, as I accepted it, but I didn't like it. I still didn't understand it completely way back then and even in that book I got to write my take on it brought up a motion to do that, even when I was writing about what I really felt about that and it really wasn't tied to my marriage. It was just some I didn't want to let go of that's right and I didn't know why and I'm asleep. I still don't really know you know deep down exactly what it was you who told me it was kinda tied to your marriage though because it was like one of the very few nice gifts that it was had bought her.
It was something that was valuable to me, not necessarily to the marriage. It was like I put forth effort and really thought this through. And I think the gift was really appreciated. And maybe that's maybe maybe that's more about what it was about as I was appreciated for it, but yeah I held onto it for a while, but that's not just his fault. That's my own insecurity that something I had to really face and I did later on. I think that's why it's easier for us to communicate those things. Now you and I don't think it's fair to ever ask a woman who you want to marry to live in like a shrine to their late wife or ex-wife or whatever.
If it makes her uncomfortable. I would say those feelings need to take precedence over your feelings when I love Ryan about what you just said is that you got to what was underneath that for you. You got to the insecurity that was there and you made a decision about whether or not you were going to hang onto that insecurity. Oftentimes what we do when we get to these moments in every listing right now is got a red cooking pot thing in your marriage. Everybody does. It's what reveals some insecurity in you about your relationship. We could list a thousand different cooking pot little arguments or or moments at the end of the day, we have to decide what am I gonna do with that insecurity in me and my gonna let that rule me or my gonna figure out a new path around this or my gonna walk through this insecurity and trust you. In spite of my insecurity.
That's the moment where we grow up in relationships. I really believe and there's all sides in every side has to be considered. So yeah, Jessica's got a point. If there's a shrine and I'm living in the shrine boys that uncomfortable at the same time.
What's the reason for the shrine.
Is there a reason is there's is or something valid that led to the symbolisms being held onto in the first place. All of that has merit and it takes a lot of patience. I think for us as couples to listen to the other person to hear their point of view to try to give consideration to the need within it, and then at the same time to give voice to what's troubling us and to do so in an environment in a way that ultimately we can come together and say, but are us matters and how do I honor you in this red cooking pot conversation and it's not always easy me now.
Early on it lead to explosive arguments.
I have a now when we feel something will say to each other. What's this really about question and then it's a pause. What is this really about. Had the kids been like driving me crazy today and I'm lashing out at him or my feeling stressed because I took on too many projects or know whatever it may be. We don't really have those shrine arguments anymore. What we have is what we have in the moments from his previous life. Some of its from mine that we've accepted it like as our stuff now, but we don't tend to have those explosive arguments over that thing anymore, so I'm curious is that his Chad to eliminate those feelings and symbols that could trigger her insecurity more is that her responsibility to manage her own insecurities, you know, I really think it's both people who have a job to do, but I have to just say I think marriage education material for the most part of the last 34 years would suggest that it's his job.
It's like you gotta make that sacrifice to help her deal with that insecurity. So you need to throw out the pots immediately. No questions asked what that just assumes that if he throws out the pots that her insecurities gonna go away and I would suggest to you that's very unlikely because the insecurity is rooted in more than just the pot or the what it symbolizes. It's rooted in her and so she has some work to do to look inside herself and say what is this and me, why am I feeling insecure. What is there that I need to work on my relationship with God finding my identity with him living out of confidence in that identity and at the same time while she's doing that and he has her husband does.
I think have now that he's more aware of what causes that insecurity in her. What can I do to affirm her.
How can I minister to my wife's heart and I use that term very intensely. We don't often think of marriage is ministering to one another starts but that's what serving is. That's what sacrifice is it is a form of ministry to their hearts. They both have work to do yet.
I know you know the insecurities are real. I can remember the day that Ann's old boyfriend shows up on our front porch just signed with the Detroit Lions and he wants to come to the team Bible study and I'm like, you should ask Ron where that insecurity and I let David and I prayed for him that he would leave and then he did. You know, staring at him. It was a red cooking pot, but it was like a person that represented that's right. While this is not easy. In man, the Ronnie's have you really model for us.
Reality and authenticity and vulnerability, but also you know how to navigate that and I didn't even know there's a whole another aspect of their life with their eight blended kids that they had a special needs kids. They have one special-needs child and you know anybody in that situation knows that that re-orients everything in your home structure of your home that the scheduling of your home. So for those that really want to learn from their experience. Make sure you listen to the entire family life blended podcast you been listening to Damon and Wilson with Ron deal on family life today. We been hearing clips from episode 67 of the family life blended podcast. You can hear the rest of Ron's conversation with the Ronnie's in the full episode. Just search for family life blended where ever you get your podcasts or click the link in today's show firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in ministry and wondering how you can help couples like Ryan and Jessica work through grief in 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 through the 14th in Phoenix Arizona.
You can find out email@example.com tomorrow evening. Wilson will be talking with KY mana about the natural struggles we experience as we live in a culture that is very much the era of self. That's tomorrow on behalf of David and Wilson. I'm Shelby Abbott will see back next time for another edition of family life family like today's a production of family life accrue ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most