Category Archives for "Marriage"

Fami-versary: The Anniversary of a Step-Family

Nine years ago, I woke up knowing that I would be sharing the rest of my life with an incredible man who loved me, not in spite of, but because of all my shortcomings - the obvious ones and the ones I may go to great lengths to hide. He sees them before I recognize them, and yet, he never uses them as a weapon. He only offers me grace, love, and compassion - every single day.

Today is more than the anniversary of our marriage. It is our Fami-versary. 3,287 days ago, The Engineer also entrusted me with the role of mom to his 5-year-old and 11-year-old sons. I literally studied for this role. It scared me more than stepping back into the arena of marriage (I’d done marriage once before and failed, so I went back and did an After Action Report to improve my odds of success!)

Never had I been given the gift of step-mothering. I was not afforded the role of being a biological or adoptive mom, so for me mothering in any capacity was an opportunity I did not take lightly. I didn’t dream of being a step-mom when I was a little girl – Disney didn’t portray that role as one to be admired. I know now that the emotional turbulence of step-mothering is much too complicated for Hollywood to encompass in a 2-hour time frame!

Being a step-mom hasn’t always felt like the gift I believe it to be. There have been plenty of days – and weeks – when it has felt like a battlefield and I am the enemy in my own home. Yet, just when it feels like I’m ready to pull out a flag of surrender, there is the familiar feeling of love and connection with one of my sons and I remember this situation is much more difficult on them than it is on me. They didn’t choose this type of family as children. They, too, have experienced the struggles – but even more so because they have two step-families to navigate!

I would not trade this journey of tears, joy, hurt, laughter, and humility for anything. The three of these Milligan men make me a better woman – they stretch me to grow in ways I never thought I could.  I am blessed to be the wife of such an amazing man. I have a bonus blessing of being a mom to two amazing young men.

Love with Grace

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things ~ Bono

Year after year, I see the wounded wobbling into my office around this time.

The Expectation Train derails and causes mass casualties between December 25th and February 14th.  Most are still injured following a fall into the Disappointment Ditch of Christmas.   So the forecast of a Failure Frenzy on V-Day is pretty predictable, with a 95% chance of resentment.

Isn’t "love" a beautiful thing?

We do this to ourselves though. As a society, we allow the hype of media and advertisers to woo us into the fairy tales of candlelight dinners, sparkling gems, and imported chocolates accompanied by fine wine.

Although there is a piece of us living in reality, the fantasy can be all consuming…and quite damaging. Especially when we keep these ambitious hopes sequestered within, setting up the Failure Frenzy that much more.

Here’s the deal - when we live each day with intentional love and authentic connection, the pressure to fulfill made-for-TV dreams becomes null and void.

But what is ‘intentional love’ and ‘authentic connection’? It’s being able to state your truth – your joys, your worries and your annoyances with respect and consideration. It’s being an adult in a mutually caring relationship.

Photo by Rgt

Photo by Rgt

It’s the ability to reframe the coffee rings on the counter from a malicious act of personal contempt to a love note, letting you know your husband is home, safely sleeping beside you at night.

It’s the choice of listening with the goal of curiosity rather than the motive to be right.

It’s putting away the scoreboard and picking up the pom-poms to be the personal cheerleader of the one you have chosen as your lifelong confidante, companion, and lover.

It’s pausing to think of your own worst traits before you opt to recite the peculiar pet peeves you’ve catalogued of your spouse’s.

It’s saying, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. What can I do to make this better?”

Intentional love and authentic connection is grace in action. It’s believing the best about our partner and trusting they believe the best in us. In this world of fear and anxiety, let’s not add to the turmoil – let’s love with grace.

Believe. Create. Live.

© 2016 Rebecca G. Townsend, LLC


Connect Deeper by Listening

Loving couple in wheat fieldMan's inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively ~ Carl Rogers

Is the problem that we don’t communicate well or that we don’t listen well?

Listening is difficult because it is not about us...

Listening is about the person we are bearing witness to...the person who needs to be heard, validated and understood.

Our broken world is about speaking. Posting where we are, whom we are with, what we are doing - CONSTANTLY.

We have become so enmeshed in the social media there is no filter on what is being shared...

And there is no time or energy left to listen.

Instead, we rush to be heard, to be the one to reply to a hot topic before we even listen to the entire viewpoint.

My natural tendency is to talk until I’m heard...until the other party is in agreement with me. I like to win. I’ve learned that winning in conversation is a deceitful prize...what kind of payoff is it to leave another hurting?

Relationships cannot be competitions - they must be cooperative and compromising. To cooperate and compromise, both parties must truly listen, hear, and understand.

It takes a conscious and deliberate effort to listen, hear and understand a point of view different from your own. Yet, the return on that investment can be tremendous.

It can be deeply healing and uniting. Growth for both parties can begin and it strengthens the connection, the unity of a may discover you have the same goals, the same passions. And those were initially shared with uniqueness...yet there is sameness in our core.

Believe. Create. Live.