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I have a blended family. Before I got married the second time, I had all these pretty, idealistic ideas in my head about what our blended family would look like. We would love each other like family. We wouldn’t have step anything. It would just be mom, dad, son, daughter, brother, sister.

Our brains are so funny sometimes. Needless to say, our new family didn’t look anything like what I had envisioned. From the beginning my dear husband was making decisions regarding “his” kids without even informing me of the decision, let alone letting me be involved in the process. I wasn’t their mother and apparently my opinion wasn’t needed or wanted — even when it affected my life!

This was extremely difficult for me because of all the things I made it mean. He must not love me. He must think I’m a terrible mother. He doesn’t want us to be a family. We’re never going to be united. I’m never going to have the kind of family I’ve always wanted. You get the idea. I’m sure your brain does the same sort of thing. I told my husband, “I can’t love your kids like a mom if you don’t let me act like a mom.” It was true. It’s just the way I was made. This was a fact.

The day I realized that was just a thought (not a fact) it felt like my jaw hit the floor. I just sat there in open astonishment.

So many things in our lives feel like facts. They feel so true our brains can’t even recognize that they are just thoughts. And guess what? Thoughts are optional. You can choose to believe anything you want. On purpose.

As long as I believe I can’t love my step kids unless the circumstance changes, my brain will search for and even create evidence to make that true. The truth is, I can love anyone I want, any time I want, and for absolutely no reason at all. Same thing goes for thinking my husband doesn’t love me or that he doesn’t want us to be family.

What my husband does or says or thinks has nothing to do with me. That’s all about him. I’m the one who made it mean something about me. And in doing so, I made myself miserable. Let me repeat that — my husband wasn’t making me miserable, I made myself miserable; I hurt my own feelings. I was punching myself in the face over and over and over again.

I can’t change my husband. And frankly, I don’t really want to (at least not now that I’ve learned how to manage my own mind). I want to love him for exactly who he is. Isn’t that what we all want? Someone to love us exactly as we are? What an amazing gift to be able to give to your spouse.

But I can absolutely change my thoughts about this situation. And that’s exactly what I did.

My husband still makes decisions without me. And he still neglects to inform me of about what’s going on. He still says things like “my kids” and “your kids.” He still calls me Mindy rather than Mom when he’s talking to the kids. But I don’t make it mean anything anymore. I choose to believe he loves me dearly. I choose to believe he loves our family as much as I do. I choose to believe we have different parenting styles, and not only is that ok, but all the kids will be better off for experiencing both.

The circumstance hasn’t changed much over time, but my result is entirely different.

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