Some of the best marriages I know started as blended families. These are relationships in which one or both spouses entered the marriage with children from a previous relationship.
I believe every marriage has a one-hundred percent chance of success when they follow God’s plan. But blended families encounter some unique challenges from Day One. These must be overcome in order to have a healthy, thriving marriage.
One major issue is priority. Think about first marriages. These begin with a relationship. The marriage comes first, then children arrive later. In these cases, marriage is naturally the nucleus of the family—the husband and wife established their bond before the children came along.
But when children are already present at the beginning of a marriage, they can become the nucleus of the family. When this happens, the husband-wife relationship may suffer. Maybe it doesn’t happen today. But it will happen.
Here’s why: Parenting is a temporary assignment. It may sometimes feel like forever, but there is a limited span of time between when the doctor puts your son or daughter into your arms and when that son or daughter leaves home as an adult.. Kids grow up.
In the Garden of Eden, God gave the laws of marriage to Adam and Eve. One of them is this: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife” (Genesis 2:24).
A man will leave his father and mother. Your children will leave home and start families of their own. At this point, you and your spouse will be left with an empty nest. What then?
The nucleus is the brain of a cell. Without it, the cell dies. If children are the nucleus of a marriage, what happens when those children grow up and move out of the home?
Couples who give up their marriage for their children—even though they may be loving and serving their kids—often find that they have nothing left for each other once their kids no longer need them. This is why, in recent years, the divorce rate for people over the age of 50 has increased.
A loving mother and father wake up without children in the home, and they realize they hardly know each other anymore.
If you are in a blended family and have children at home, this is a problem you can deal with right now by putting your marriage first. Your children are important, but they are not as important as your marriage.
Children feel more secure when they know their parents are happy and see a healthy marriage.
When children see happily married parents, they see a vision of hope for their own future relationships.
When a husband and wife put their marriage first, they are less emotionally needy after the children leave. These are not parents who get overly involved in the lives of their grown children—who get in the way of their children building lives of their own.
In all marriages, but especially in a blended family, the husband and wife must make time for each other. Talk every day. Spend time together on your own. Teach your kids to respect “Mom and Dad time.” Schedule a regular date night. Get away without your kids when you can.
Put your marriage first and your blended family will thrive. Not just now, but in the future when your children are grown and your relationship remains strong.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today