Did you know that 50 percent of all families today are blended families? These are families where one or both spouses enter the marriage with children from a previous marriage or relationship. Blended families can be wonderful. I personally know of several blended families who are very successful and such a blessing.
Remember, Jesus came from a blended family. He didn’t share the same father as his siblings.
However, blended families also deal with special challenges that other families don’t experience. That’s one reason blended marriages tend to have higher divorce rates than first marriages. To find success, a blended family has to disarm a few potentially harmful dynamics that are present from the beginning.
Unresolved feelings. These are related to an ex-spouse. Our society trivializes sex, but it’s a joining of two souls that results in a very strong bond. It is difficult to separate that bond. The leftover feelings can be unhealthy.
These may be feelings of love, in which one spouse can’t help but think of the best parts of their past relationship. Or these may be feelings of hate and resentment, an unwillingness to let go of past hurts.
Neither scenario is healthy for today’s marriage. Take captive those thoughts. Forgive those who hurt you in the past, and turn your attention to the person you are married to in the present. They should be your focus.
Low trust. When you get your heart broken, you enter marriage with suspicion. The last thing you want is to be hurt again. In these situations, a husband or wife may take a guilty-until-proven-innocent approach to their new spouse. They view any disagreements or problems through a lens of distrust.
This puts too much pressure on the new spouse and allows the scars of the past to dictate the present. Marriage requires trust. You cannot marry and mistrust. If you don’t think you can trust a new spouse, don’t get married yet. Keep dating until that trust is there.
High expectations. At the same time, I’ve seen blended families in which one spouse puts the new spouse on a pedestal. Because a past relationship was so bad, they enter the new one with high hopes. They want a 180-degree change. They see a bright future.
A positive attitude is important, of course. But I’ve seen too many spouses set expectations impossibly high for their new husband or wife. No one is perfect, which makes this an unwinnable situation—the new spouse is set up for failure.
Instead, give those past emotions to God. Rather than comparing today to yesterday, ask Him to help the two of you dream a new dream together.
Priority. Traditional marriages start with a relationship. It’s just the two of you at first. But in a blended family, children are there from the beginning. This makes it easier for children to become the primary focus of the new relationship.
But kids are a temporary assignment. A marriage needs to be able to outlast the presence of children in the home. That’s why, in all things—especially parenting—your marriage must come first. Children are much more emotionally secure when they notice and understand that their parents are happily married.
These dynamics are present on the first day of a blended marriage, and they must be carefully navigated in order for that marriage and family to have success. Give your marriage to God and pursue His plan, because every marriage—blended and traditional—has a 100 percent chance of success when you do it God’s way.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today