When engaged couples are in love, their euphoria can sometimes cloud how accurately they see other family members’ feelings about their upcoming marriage. This especially holds true when a couple is blending kids and ex-spouses from previous relationships. Divorce doesn’t separate families; it only re-arranges them. When a woman marries a man with dependent children, she is now in relationship with not only her husband, but his kids, and his ex-wife. A marriage that blends families presents two critical questions for a couple to answer:
- Can a husband and wife, who have biological kids from previous relationships, put each other first above those children?
- Do they have a vision, strategy, and plan to successful blend their families or are they going to just figure it out as they go?
Putting Your Spouse First
A God based marriage puts God first, spouse second, children third, and then other family and friends. When I take Christian couples through premarital coaching, one critical question I ask is whether each can put the other first above biological children. There’s usually a lengthy pause with one or both saying they aren’t sure. I appreciate their honesty and encourage them to think about, answer, and share that answer with each other.
God designed marriage for husband and wife to become one flesh. Marriage is the foundational relationship that makes the rest of family relationships work and provides a legacy for children when they become adults. The marriage must be the priority relationship, so that the family works and dependent children understand that the world does not revolve around them which is an importance lesion to navigate adult life.
A vision and mission is important for any marriage, and I believe it’s even more important for couples who are blending families. Step-families have unique issues that must be managed which fully biological families don’t have to navigate. Both dependent and adult children wrestle with loyalty issues between biological and step parents. Many younger children feel that their worlds are turned upside down and they have no control over what goes on in their lives. They experience emotional overload which usually results in unexpected behaviors that draws the focus away from the marriage and naturally toward the children.
Couples who take a proactive, intentional, and inclusive approach will be more successful in integrating two families into one blended family. Blending families requires a degree of smarts, finesse, and preparation as well as respecting previously formed relationships. I suggest a couple take the time to create a vision and mission for their marriage and then develop a plan in how to integrate their families.
Although 50% of marriages end in divorce, the statistics don’t tell the whole story. Seventy percent of second marriages end in divorce with many couples stating irreconcilable differences involving children from previous marriages as the major contributing factor.
If you’re thinking of marriage and want to get a head start on how to successfully blend your families, I suggest you reach out for premarital coaching. We can take a deep dive into how to best blend your new stepfamily.
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, and financial coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.