Research shows that twenty-five percent of the married population—42 million Americans—are remarried or in a blended family. This is a huge issue, and the chances are that if you aren’t in this situation, you know someone who is. Second marriages bring all the challenges of first marriages, plus an entire extra level of complexity.
But blended families can be successful. Here are ten intentional habits that can help blended families thrive.
1. Stand together. Amos 3:3 says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (NIV) In a blended family it is critical for you to stand together. There will be forces at work trying to get between the two of you to destroy your marriage. Don’t allow outside issues and stresses to wedge their way between the two of you.
2. Keep God at the center. To do this, ask yourself if your decisions are coming from an attitude of keeping God at the center of your home.
3. Resolve problems behind closed doors. Don’t do it in front of the kids. Unfortunately many immature people in second marriages play out their disagreements in front of the kids, and when that happens, it creates tremendous confusion and insecurity for the kids. If you’ve got issues that need to be resolved, go where you can talk about them without having the kids present.
4. Defer to the primary parent. There will be times when you don’t agree with your spouse and the decisions they are making for their kids. Your job is to help your spouse be successful in raising those children. Your job is not to come in and replace anybody.
5. Avoid the fairness trap. This is huge. Some kids in any family are going to be more successful than others because of the way they are wired or the gifts they have. Life is not fair. This is true in all families.
6. Maintain traditions. Traditions are important for the kids and when we rob one of our children of their traditions we rob them of their memories. And it’s important that you maintain as many of those as you can with your children for their sake. Then at some point start adding new traditions as a blended family. These are things that the kids will begin to learn to do within this new family.
7. Hold family meetings. Establish a safe place where any of your children or any member of the family can bring up any topic they need to talk about or any questions they have. Set ground rules and be respectful to keep the dialogue open.
8. Seek counseling. When the same problem keeps coming up and is never resolved or you’re walking on eggshells with anyone in the family, talk to a counselor. Ask for help.
9. Give people room to hurt. When you fall in love with your new spouse, your kids may not be ready as soon as you are. They may be frustrated and hurting. Allow each person to move on their own timetable. There can be room for hurt but not disrespect.
10. Expect the best. We tend to live up to the expectations, so set realistic, hopeful expectations for your family and for your life together.
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