With two of her own, Denise remarried and brought two children from her husband together to explore what it means to be a blended family.
My husband and I found out early on that there were unforeseen problems with our children and our blended family that needed to be addressed. We could find very few resources and books on the subject back then and our church didn’t want to openly support our need. They felt that to have a Family support group for Blended Families would be the same as endorsing divorce. How crazy is that? My husband and I ended up starting our own support group and discovered there were a lot of people in the same boat looking for resources.
In my case, my ex-husband was a violent, abusive man who beat me for 4 years until I grabbed the girls and ran away. In my husband’s case, his ex-wife decided she didn’t want to be married anymore and left him and his 2 children to find herself. When divorce happens, it is a very sad and lonely time full of heartaches for adults and children. Remarriage should be a time of hope and rebuilding, but often it is filled with pitfalls and landmines that you don’t see coming. Everything from the ex’s to the in-laws, to the child, can all work against you making the second marriage work.
Here are just a few of the things you can do to build up your blended family and keep off the road to another divorce.
1. Seek Help
Like us, search for a support group, books, Facebook Pages specializing in Blended Family needs, and anything else you can think of. Today there are a lot more resources out there than there were 35 years ago.
A couple times the arguments my husband’s son and I had lead to the teen boy running away. Not far, thankfully. He would run up the road and sit in a ditch to think. But it scared me nonetheless.
I wasn’t used to boys and wasn’t aware that arguing is what they do and do well. I didn’t and still don’t know how to ignore that. One day we got into an argument about the color of a girl’s hair. I merely wanted to describe a girl I saw at church and ask if they knew her. I said her hair was auburn, he corrected me and said her hair was red. I had a red-headed cousin and this girl was not a red-head. I wanted to just leave it but he wouldn’t stop. He wanted to win this debate and kept following me around the house insisting I would agree with him. In the end, it was a yelling fest. I stated in the whole scheme of things with people starving in China, what did it matter what color her hair was? That’s when he ran away. Now, retelling this story seems harmless and even a little laughable, but both of us were so heated at the time that it was anything but harmless. He was a kid; albeit a mouthy kid, but a kid nonetheless. As an adult, I should have been able to take the high road but I let him get to me. I predicted he would be a lawyer someday and drive poor judges and defense attorneys crazy, but at 12 he was just driving me crazy.
We lived through that phase; I even let the boy live. Needless to say, it could have been a lot easier if the boy’s father had been more available for situations like these. Not that I’m mad at him at all. He held down 2 jobs to make it possible for me to be home with all the kids: his and mine. At times like those having someone to call or email would have been a God-send.
I am blessed to have so many great things in my life - family, friends and God. All will be in my thoughts daily.
— Lil' Kim
Time With Children
2. Make sure the absent parent is spending time with the children.
Unfortunately, my daughter’s father was out of the country for several years shortly after I remarried. The could see him only for a short time once a year. It made my oldest very resentful.
My oldest daughter was only 9 when I remarried. She remembered life with her father only vaguely, because we divorced when she was only 2. We had spent more time alone than with him. But she still resented a new man, father, usurper in her home. There were times when we would all go out and have a great time, where even she enjoyed herself. However the next week she would be an absolute monster. I realized later that she would actually feel guilty for having a good time without your real father and make up for it afterward by being monumentally unhappy. She wasn’t cognizant of what she was doing or why she only knew she felt bad for feeling good. As an adult, I wasn’t even able to process what was going on while it was going on. Only later looking back it made sense.
New Relationship Health
3. Spend time nurturing your love relationship with your new spouse.
It is easy to get so bogged down in the problems with the kids that you forget to get away and spend time with your new spouse. The marriage has to be given time to bloom and grow if you want it to last. It isn’t easy either. Unlike a first marriage where there is a “honeymoon” period, second marriages just don’t have time for that. Boom. You immediately have kids to deal with. So stay strong in your marriage and don’t allow the kids to form a wedge to separate you. When the last kid leaves home, you will actually get that honeymoon time. You just need to make sure you still like each other once you get there. When the last kid left for college and the last dog died, we looked at each other and couldn’t believe our luck. It was an awesome time where we kicked up our heels and went places together at the drop of a hat. Those are the days you are working for.
The memories we make with our family is everything.
— Candace Cameron Bure
These were things we mostly stumbled on unwittingly. We noticed how much it meant and how things went smoother when we tried them so we incorporated them into our routines. Today, there are lots of support groups and authors writing on the subject that can help. Each is expressing opinions and sharing things that worked for them like I am. The truth is that every family and every child is different, and what worked for one may not necessarily work for all. You have to try them all and keep what works. Throw out all the rest. Your child is a unique individual and you alone know him/her best.
Good luck in your blended family. Remember that it doesn’t happen all at once. Just because you said, “I do” doesn’t mean that the blending is done. It is a process and will take time to make the blend work. My success is that my stepkids are grown with kids of their own and they still love me. I don’t know why. I made lots of mistakes. But, bless them, they love me anyway.