Are You Remarried? Stepfamily Myths and Expectations
- Saturday, August 20, 2011
Do you know someone who is remarried? Whether through divorce or the passing of a spouse, remarriage and the blended family are one of the fastest growing family groups in the United States, even within the church.
Whatever your beliefs are about remarriage, one thing that is certain is that these fragile families need encouragement. The divorce rate for second marriages is at 60% within the first 2 years. We do not want to see couples re-divorcing! Our passion is to educate and equip remarried couples to have a strong marriage and leave a healthy legacy for their family. With Christ as the center and trust and honesty as part of the family foundation, stepfamilies can experience joy in their adventure.
The following is adapted from our book, Restored and Remarried:
Here are five interesting myths that many stepfamilies resonate with.
1. Putting unrelated people in the same house will bring them to love and care for one another.
Believe it or not, love and care may OR may not develop. Developing love and care for someone is like intimacy. Intimacy develops over a long period of time; it does not happen overnight. The key is to be patient and allow everyone to move at their own pace, not forcing intimacy.
We need to keep in mind the big picture. You are totally committed to this family; you're not going anywhere, right? So whether it takes six months or 40 years, you'll be there to support and encourage each member of the family right where they are at. We're not saying that this is always easy, but it's the right thing to do. When in doubt, just love on them.
2. This marriage/family is competing against the legacy of the previous one.
This time there are different people involved, different dynamics. Don't get caught up in the, "it used to be this way" mentality, which will just get you in trouble. DON'T COMPARE. Live in the present and accept your stepfamily for what it is.
God calls us to be faithful with what stands directly in front of us. We can not resurrect something that is dead. Do we really want to? Would that positively impact our current situation? Sometimes it feels easier to resort to old patterns even if they were unhealthy because they are familiar. Being uncomfortable can be a positive circumstance because this is an opportunity to try something new. A chance to rely on the Lord to work through you without having all the answers yourself!
3. Everything will fall into place.
We want this marriage to have everything in its place as soon as possible so we can all be happy… right? Then we can get on with life. Do you realize that the average stepfamily takes seven years to integrate according to E. Mavis Hetherington "For Better or for Worse; Divorce Reconsidered. Wow! So when we talk with families that are a few months into their new family and things are a little rocky, this statistic brings in a welcomed reality check. We always hear a sigh of relief and renewed hope. Keep in mind that this is a general statistic in stepfamilies. We realize that some families will "fall into place" faster than others… and yet some may never achieve harmony.
4. The kids will be happy about the remarriage.
Doesn't that just make sense? We were thrilled to find love again… a new start, a new adventures. In reality, stepfamilies are born out of loss. The previous marriage may have ended due to the death of a spouse. Sometimes the "ghost" of the deceased parent may come back and add strife for the new stepparent. The previous marriage may have ended due to divorce. Children still want their biological parents to remarry or have the deceased parent come back to life.
Both situations have huge emotional consequences. One thing that we remind ourselves often is to put ourselves in our kid's shoes. Don't under estimate the positive and negative emotions you receive from your kids. They can both happen at the same time!
5. You both learned from past mistakes and won't make them again.
Be open to revisiting past blunders even though you felt you dealt with them. Make sure you haven't missed anything. Just because you feel you have dealt with it and "put it on the shelf" doesn't mean you can't pull it down to look at again. This is a new relationship now and may bring new light to old stuff. The circumstances and attitudes of your previous actions or motives, requires a true change of heart. Don't sit there so long that you have a pity party or get totally stuck. Do business and move forward… always forward.
These are just a few common myths. There are lots more, we're sure. For us, just facing the reality of these false dictates has helped us adjust our expectations so that we can be more effective with our kids and more loving to each other.
Do you know why most relationships fail? You might say, adultery, addiction, or abuse and those would be very good reasons. But one of the main reasons relationships fail is because of flat out selfishness. It's more important for me to get what I want, the way I want it right now. All I know is when I (Brenda) serve my husband, an incredible thing happens. He serves me back! I don't ask him to, it just happens. We both serve each other. This is such a simple act that can absolutely revolutionize your marriage.
Just to clarify, this is not a contest to see who can out serve one another. It might be as simple as bringing your spouse a cup of coffee in the morning. I think sometimes we treat our friends better than we treat our spouses. If you can't handle the word "serve" yet, try this: just be nice to each other. I'm sure you have heard your mom say, "a little bit of kindness can go a long way." Do you want a GREAT marriage? Keep in mind this whole "selfishness component." It can sneak in when you least expect it!
During our stepfamily adventure, over and over it is confirmed to us how important our marriage is. We DO NOT want our kids to experience another divorce. We want them to experience what a healthy marriage looks like. Our passion and focus is to keep our marriage strong; not only for the sake of our kids, but for each other and the legacy of this new family. Our byline is:
"If you ain't got the marriage you ain't got nothin'."
Origianlly posted March 25, 2010.
Gil and Brenda live in Vancouver, Washington. They have 7 children between them, ages 18-29. Gil graduated from Bethany Bible College; he currently is an insurance broker and active in the community with marriage and family issues. Brenda was on staff as Children's Pastor of their church and now works with a youth development organization and is involved with marriage and family initiatives.
Gil and Brenda deliver a fresh style of encouragement to this ever-growing population in society— the blended family. Willing to speak the obvious from their own step family adventure, the Stuarts share heart to heart as they walk the walk. Their book, Restored and Remarried was recently released along with their 8 week workbook. Gil and Brenda are available for seminars, workshops and retreats. Find them at www.restoredandremarried.com.
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