A Healthy Stepmother . . . musical guide to remarriage.

I’m obsessed with the movie, Love Actually. The music is as much a part of the movie as the vignettes themselves and since I had to drive to the other end of my state for a teaching engagement, I had lots of time to listen to the entire soundtrack. Somewhere between Jump and Too Lost in You, it occurred to me all these songs represent some part of a journey of falling in love, losing illusions, grappling with disappointment and falling back in love.

Years ago, I heard a woman’s voice on NPR radio tell me that she saw marriage as a process of falling in and out of love with the same person over and over and over again. Since I didn’t hear who she was, I can’t give you the source material on that, but I love the sentiment. In my experience, it’s true. But, we don’t have much patience for the falling out of love part, we most often hold strong to our disdain of anything that’s not perfect and work as fast as we can to get back to the happily-ever-after moment. I don’t think that’s reality. I think much of life is ho-hum, if we are lucky, and a good bit of it is excruciating in some way or another.

But, let’s start at the beginning…..you remember that feeling . . . you met him, fell head over heels, and dove in. Deep. If you don’t remember that feeling and the event, my recommendation is that you go back and dust it off and renew the feeling. Holding that time as a shining light in the darkness is worth a lot. I’ll get back to that later. For now . . . Jump For My Love

When the magic softens and the day-to-day messiness and angst and jockeying for who’s going to be closest to daddy gets into full swing, the distance between you and your guy can grow and grow. It can be terrifying. You try to hang on, you try to show him what needs to happen. He feels like he’s trying his best and all he can hear is you yelling at him. Magic turns to dust . . . The Trouble With Love

Sometimes you hope someone (usually the man you married) will sweep in and rescue you. That fantasy is one that dies hard. Most often, in a remarriage, you’re both stuck inside your tormented box of pain, hoping it will somehow miraculously end. . . . Wherever You Will Go

And then, you step back and take some time to sink into the inner parts of yourself and assess your situation. Only you know what you need, only you know what you are willing to let go of and what is essential to your survival. Tricky part is that we can let go of much, much, much, much more than we think and it’s often going to turn out for the best when we do. You know what I’m talking about . . . all those expectations, if only he would….if only she would. Let them go to this lovely lullaby. . . . The Glasgow Love Theme

After you’ve taken those hours, days, weeks, or months to sort it all through . . . once you’ve made your decision that YES, this is the man I’m meant to be with, then you get to the place where you surrender and discover you didn’t die. You discover you can keep your integrity and wholeness, maybe even more of it than before. . . . Both Sides Now

Acceptance of a real and natural relationship might take months and maybe even years, but for those of us who are fortunate enough to stick it out, there comes a day you wake up and feel at peace. At peace with your decision and at peace with your man.

I’m going to whisper when I say this, in some ways that’s what felt like the beginning of my marriage to my husband. We finally arrived at a whole new level of relationship and I fell in love with him all over again, just as meaningful as before, with even more trust and understanding. And the memories of how we met and how we got to here, in this precise place in our relationship, are worth so much. We are grateful, we are together, and I’d do this all over again, not something I’d have said four years ago. . . . Lost in You


Maybe you don’t have a road trip waiting for you that allows you to turn up the volume and sing out loud to these songs, but you might have a moment on a walk or when the kids are gone to school, or late at night with the headphones on. For me, this particular music (and the movie) is a salve on sore thoughts, a smoothing out of the bumps and bruises from earlier struggles. No doubt, we’ll struggle again, but at the moment, we’re both still singing!

. . .
Listening again to the soundtrack and can hardly believe I forgot these amazing songs . . .  I’ll See It Through . . . Songbird.


7 thoughts on “A Healthy Stepmother . . . musical guide to remarriage.

  1. Thank you, Kim. Would love to take a road trip out to have a cup of coffee with you 🙂 4 days on the road (each way!) would be worth it. Thank you for sharing your experience, support and wisdom. I’m living a downer at the moment, but getting better at weathering the climate as it is. Used the “ground through your feet” advice this past weekend (along with a personalized trick to visualize myself on horseback jumping a clear course!)

    • I think every day and every moment we are in the downer-phase is time well-spent. Seriously, I do mean that. There’s something that happens, something we get closer and closer to acknowledging to ourselves and then we find it’s simply easier to let it go than to keep clutching. Is it trust in the relationship even if it doesn’t look like the Ward and June Cleaver of stepcouples, is it acceptance that ours is a less-than-idealized remarriage if we put it under a microscope? I don’t now….but I know that when I let go of all the voices that were shouting “he should be doing this….” and “you should be doing that!” then there was a quiet when I didn’t know what to do and I was confused and worried and all the grounding work kept me from flying away. Long enough that I could look around and see that it wasn’t that bad. The kids still don’t answer my text messages, they still only put up pictures of themselves with their dad, they are polite to me when we are together and very occasionally initiate something that lets me know they recognize I’m part of their life. But, that is all a loooong way from the past days of open hostility and disrespect. My focus now is on keeping my marriage strong, finding little ways to connect with my guy in the midst of the chaos. And, here come the holidays…..woot (not). Haha…..sorry to go on so long, sending you a long distance “I gotcha….I getcha…..still there some days.”

      Hey, let’s listen to Love Actually together…..a group sing-a-long. How about The Trouble with Love….? That would make me happy. I’ll turn mine on this evening 5-7 (PST). Wanna join me, even in your head?

      • Hi! Yikes, after following your messages for a year I just stumbled onto how to see your responses to the comments 🙂 Love your suggestion of the group sing-a-long, sorry I missed out! Also….man oh man, wish I lived closer to Oregon to join you and everyone who is going for a mug of coffee together…maybe I’ll make a special journey out for that coffee one day, your messages have been helping me understand my relationship with my partner, his kids, and everyone else involved in their lives. Tough go at times! Trying to keep myself pointed towards what is healthy, kind and reasonable (time at the stables helps when those 3 things aren’t part of the scene!) Thank you.

    • Hi Lisa, thanks for commenting! Yes, it’s so fabulous, could watch it every week. Even though everyone is very pretty, there’s something real and raw about so many of the relationship dynamics. And a few good laughs among the tears. As for beginnings, I think it’s really good news there can be those moments when you feel you’ve just taken a step even deeper into this thing of deeply witnessing another person’s life, that they see you and you see them. Whew….and congratulations, we made it past that moment.

  2. One of my favourite movies ever and just watching that “beginning” clip, I got a big lump in my throat. 🙂 I love that line that marriage is falling in and out of love with the same person over and over again. SO true. There are days when I can’t imagine living the rest of my life with this man of mine, and then days when I can’t imagine my life without him!

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