Three years ago I met the man of my dreams. He is compassionate, funny, and bears a smile that, to this day, attracts my whole body's attention. He is, hands down, the most amazing man I've ever met. Three years ago I began to learn facts about this man, the man to whom I am now engaged to be married to. Even now, three years in, I am still learning him and I am also still learning ME (mostly learning what it means to be the best version of me in this relationship).
From the start, my fiancé and I were full disclosure about our past. I came to know a lot of "facts" about my fiancé early on. I learned he had two beautiful children, that he was very athletic and that we shared the experience of playing collegiate-level sports (a huge bonus in my opinion). This man showed himself to be hard-working, dependable, and an exceptional father. I was in awe of him, and everything around us was great. I, at this point, knew a lot ABOUT my future husband.
Somewhere along the way, I transitioned from knowing facts ABOUT my significant other to really KNOWING him and KNOWING our relationship. In the Spanish language, these levels of "knowing" are actually given two completely different words: what it means to know "about a person or thing ('saber')," and what it means to have a deeper knowledge and "experience with a person or thing ('conocer')." Just as this discrepancy in a person's "level of knowing" is depicted above, my relationship has also slowly shifted from being "saber-like" to "conocer-like," and let me tell you, this transition wasn't easy.
Along with simply knowing my future husband had two children, he had also shared with me upfront that co-parenting with one of the other parents had always been difficult. He warned me about past incidences and was very forthcoming with factual information (also providing several opinions of his own), all of which I filed away as just that, need-to-know-facts. The more our relationship progressed, however, the information which had once been "filed away," came to be one of the worst living nightmares of my life. "Oh," I remember thinking, "THIS is what he meant when he said that co-parenting could be really difficult." From a girl marrying a guy with kids, let me tell you, things CAN be difficult, and they often are/were.
In addition to the aspect of co-parenting, there's also what I consider the absolute jackpot of my marrying a guy with kids - the kids themselves. I consider my fiancé's children to be one of the greatest blessings that have ever happened in MY life, and not only because they have forever been a HUGE blessing to my future husband, but because I love them both more than I've ever loved a kid before.
As I think back, my fiancé's kids were once just awesome little people that were a bonus to hang out with when spending time with my significant other. While these kids are still an absolute bonus and forever will be, I can look back to a time when I was only knowing "about" the experience of a life with each of these kids. And in this knowing ABOUT what it looked like to help raise kids and be a consistent part of their life, the time of "knowing about" was an absolute breeze. Once upon a time, I used to show up, hang out, and head home probably before most of the child-rearing responsibilities really took place.
This transition for me into the deeper type of knowing of these kids as a non-bio, but nonetheless sacrificial parent, has been a life altering experience (life altering in the best way I think a person's life can ever be altered). With a little heated discomfort at times, and a lot of bending, my belief is that our family is being refined into something better and stronger with each challenge. A family that will bend but not break.
From a girl marrying a guy with kids, I can honestly say I wouldn't trade it for the world, not one piece. Just as each person's life is, this life of "marrying a guy with kids" is, uniquely beautiful, perfectly imperfect, and is simultaneously one of the most challenging yet most rewarding things I've ever done. In a few months I'll be marrying not one, but three people all at once. And at this point, it is the ONLY life I could imagine. So, to all the girls marrying a guy with kids, dig in and hold on tight, it's worth every ounce of what you've got (and it might just take every ounce of what you've got to give).