STEP TALK with Alexandra Mortensen

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My husband and I got married seven months after we met. Prior to meeting each other, neither of us ever imagined that we’d get married to someone so quickly, but as they say—when you know, you know. At the time, we opted to purchase our first home together as a family of four and furnish it instead of taking a honeymoon.

We’ve never regretted that decision. However, we would be lying if we said that we haven’t felt pangs of jealousy as we’ve watched other couples get married after us and embark on an exciting getaway together as husband and wife.

Our two-year wedding anniversary was coming up and being on the frugal side, I wanted to push back the honeymoon another year. It took some convincing, but Josh advocated that we should go for it, and he won me over.

I’m so glad that he did!

We spent a week—just the two of us—in The Exumas in the Bahamas and it was incredible. On our actual anniversary day we did a full-day excursion that allowed us to see 170 miles of the islands. Activities included swimming with pigs (yes, pigs!), swimming with sharks (yes, sharks!), feeding iguanas, snorkeling in an exquisite cave where a James Bond movie was filmed, and eating in a Bahamian town.

This trip was all about us and our relationship and we both enjoyed getting to spend a full 24/7 uninterrupted week together. But, like any other parents—step or otherwise—we felt that classic parent guilt.

Is it okay that we took this trip without the boys? Are we selfish? Is it okay that we’ve enjoying our alone time? The answer… Yes!

Years ago a friend and I were heading out to another friend’s birthday celebration.

Her son asked her “Are you having you time, Mom? Okay, have fun!”

I thought it was so sweet! On the car ride there she told me that she and her husband explained to their son that in order to be the best people and parents, they had to make sure that they were taking care of themselves, too. They also encouraged their son to do the same and to discover his own special things that he loved and wanted to always make time for.

Though I wouldn’t become a stepmom for years later (and at the time thought I’d have a child of my own someday), I’ve never forgotten that conversation.

Whether it’s heading out for a cozy dinner together or planning a special trip for the two of you, I believe it’s OK to look forward to that alone time. I also believe that strengthening your relationship simultaneously strengthens you as parents.

And stepparents—this applies to you, too! Parenting, step-parenting, co-parenting... it’s all not easy.

During our belated honeymoon we spoke of the boys every day, but we also allowed ourselves to enjoy the special trip as a couple.

I hope all of you get the chance to do something special as a couple soon!

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