M and I have been married since 1998, together since 1991. We remain a solid couple, despite life’s many curveballs and upheavals. In so many real ways, we grew up together as the years have passed.

My children are from my first marriage. Where M and I are very different people, my first husband and I had so little in common and were so very young when we married. But we are both good and decent people who created children that grew up into amazing people.

As the years have passed, as the kids have grown up from very young children when we started into independent adulthood, I have kept a single promise to myself to my family: the marriage comes first in the priority list with the kids a very close second behind my spouse.

Nearly every blog or forum I read where single parents may congregate always talk about putting the kids and their needs first, even if they have remarried. I always feel like an outlier with my values, ideas, and I have been rounded criticized (in the distant past) for being a poor mother for not putting my kids first.

This is where my values considerations separate me from many.

See, when I met and married M, I knew he loved my kids and would prioritize them in the same ways that I do. I had to believe in my selection process, and that M as my spouse would love and care for them as my equally responsible partner. M being M, there have been only a couple of minor instances of conflict with my own desires for the kids versus prioritizing our marriage.

it is not a perfect system. M and I are very different people raised by very different parents and families. Our methods of demonstrating affection and care are not the same either.

But I know M loves/loved my children. His way of being is different than my own, and there has been conflict in the past, likely there will be conflict in the future. In the perfect world, we would be mature grown ups and accept our differences and remember that we love each other.

Because none of us in my immediate family are monsters. I know monsters. M is outspoken in his beliefs and his truths. Conversing with him can be a challenge and at times, exhausting, frustrating, hair-tearing aggravating.

The past 24 hours have found me second guessing myself on everything I know and believe about my parenting skills and my own character. But I am human, I made mistakes, and I have had to accept my own imperfections.

Just as I must accept the choices of those I love.

Thinking about this overnight, my impulse is to reach out and try to talk it out. Out of respect for my loved ones, I do not, will not push back. However, the door is there and unlocked if they want to open it again.

Acceptance of the situation does not make it easier for me. Trying to demonstrate poise and maturity is a huge challenge right now. But I do my best.

Back to marriage though. It is not an easy gig to navigate and maintain and even keel. But we talk it out, sometimes we (me) scream to be heard. We say things in the heat of the moment that are honest and true, but the volume and intensity driving that truth can be piercing. Conflict, real conflict with M is rare in my marriage. Disagreements are as table salt, but conflict is unusual. What I have learned through the years of pushing and pulling and figuring out who we are as individuals as well as part of a couple, we love each other. At the end of , we forgive, remember we love and are in this life together, a team. From there I can count this as another lesson in growth. Tha

I do not have to like it, though. Life is painful right now. All I can do is hold on and find ways to get through it.

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