If you made a list of all the things in your life you never thought would happen, situations you never could never have imagined yourself being in, what would you write down?
For some of you, picking up the broken pieces of your life and starting over again with a blended family might be at the top of that list.
This new chapter of life may have come about through death or divorce or some other circumstance, but the challenge is the same: how to overcome the difficulties common to blended families and to give this new part of your life its best chance to thrive.
Even if you’re not building a blended family, I hope you’ll still take the time to listen to yesterday’s and today’s broadcast. Much of the tips and conversation you’ll hear will be helpful to every marriage.
Our guest for these two programs is Ron Deal. He’s our go-to expert in this area, having written numerous books about stepfamilies and stepparenting. Ron is the founder and president of Smart Stepfamilies, a ministry that he now directs for FamilyLife Ministries.
The basis for our conversation is research he conducted on fifty thousand couple profiles – that’s 100,000 people in the data set. It was a massive study with a tremendous amount of statistical validity behind it.
In layman’s terms, that means we’re sharing a wealth of practical insights to help you get your blended family off to a great start or to help you take it to the next level if you’ve been at it for a while.
Like this idea, for example. Some couples enter their second marriage and make their new relationship their primary focus. But Ron says, when blending a family, the focus must expand from each other to the family as a whole.
In other words, in a first marriage, both mom and dad and the kids are equally invested in the success of the marriage. If mom and dad aren’t happy, the home is unhappy. And if mom and dad separate, the kids usually want them back together again.
But in a typical stepfamily, from day one, the couple is invested in their marriage, but the kids … well, quite often they can take it or leave it. That means couples have to be committed to a successful home even if the people around them are not.
That scenario points to a common problem in blended families. Almost 90 percent of couples enter blended family situations anticipating they’ll face challenges. But as Ron details, just because they anticipate a particular stress, it doesn’t mean they know how to handle it constructively.
In fact, according to his research, 75 percent of these soon-to-be-married couples never bother to discuss things as obvious as their parenting or marriage expectations. They assume everything will work out simply because they love each other. That’s not exactly a recipe for success.
So if you need help better understanding the dynamics that impact blended families like yours, I encourage you to go back and check out part one of “Improving Your Marriage as a Blended-Family Couple” online or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app to listen on the go. And don’t forget you can hear part two of this conversation on your local radio station.