The following are quotes from various resources on the subject of remarrying. We pray it will help you whether you are considering remarriage or are already married again.
• The best time to decide whether you will live the rest of your life together is before you say “I do,” not after! So much miscommunication that takes place between people is because each person is coming from a different perspective. We assume that we know what the other person believes, thinks, and feels. Too often, our assumptions are incorrect. The clearer you can be about each other’s assumptions before marriage, the fewer number of surprises after marriage. (From the book, “Helping You Start Again… Pre-Remarriage Questions” -by Bobb and Cheryl Biehl)
• Most couples remarry before they are spiritually or emotionally ready. Readiness involves several things, including: grieving losses, letting go of the past, resolving emotional wounds and identifying unhealthy relationship patterns. Commit not to remarry until you have worked through these issues. (Jeff Parziale, In Step Ministries, Instepministries.com)
• It might amaze you to know that less than 25% of those who remarry ever read a book about divorce and remarriage or seek any form of premarital counseling. Most remarrying individuals are totally unprepared for remarriage. (From the book, “Looking Before You Leap …Again!” by Jeff and Judi Parziale Instepministries.com)
• The divorce rate for remarriages is 60 percent, compared to 50 percent for first marriages. The majority fall apart within two or three years of the wedding, leaving an estimated half-million children to cope with yet another split-up. Yet, despite the prevalence of divorce, many couples still underestimate the challenges of starting a family —not from scratch. Couples often rush into the second marriage hopeful and unprepared, often ignoring potential pitfalls for fear they might scare them off remarriage, says Fargo marriage counselor and conference organizer Tina Johnson. “That denial is a protective device, a way to face the fear that ‘I’ll remain lonely for the rest of my life,'” she said. (From the article, “Remarried with Children” -by Mila Koumpilava, from The Forum from Fargo, North Dakota, September 12, 2006)
• Many individuals approach marriage, even remarriage, with a “let’s get married and work out the details later” attitude. In fact, most remarrying couples have known each other less than 9 months. Couples remarry long before they have finished grieving their losses, worked through their issues or developed a healthy single lifestyle. The high divorce rate for remarriage suggests that this approach will not work. Successful remarriages and stepfamilies result when individuals take the time to work out the details first. (From the book, “Looking Before You Leap …Again!” by Jeff and Judi Parziale Instepministries.com)
• In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said these words, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.“ Jesus is saying in effect that He isn’t willing to follow any shortcuts, cut any corners, speed things up, or make things happen out of sequence or out of time. He is committed to taking the long road, do what is right, and live responsibly and obediently, with longsuffering and patience. Not only is He saying this of Himself, but He is also setting the example for all of us, requiring that we run our own Christian race by His Spirit with patience, slowly and methodically fulfilling all the law and the prophets.
And for all dating parents, this verse is in direct opposition to speed and intensity. Quick and decisive relationships resulting from a fascinating and deceptive lure are not His will. Even if this is indeed your true life partner, God still wants your relationship to mature gradually, slowly, and methodically. And if you are dating your true-life’s partner, what’s the hurry? God is asking you to allow time for yourself and your children to grow into your new relationship until it becomes proven beyond any doubt that you and your partner are bringing, and will continue to bring, wonderful emotional health and stability into the lives of every member of your future family. (Donald Partridge – from Successfulstepfamilies.com article, “What Happens in the Meadow”)
• The first step to a healthy remarriage is you. Is this a surprise? Life wounds all of us. The losses, disappointments and hurts of life will not heal themselves —you must choose to heal. In fact, you will not grow until healing has taken place —and this takes time. (From the book, “Looking Before You Leap … Again!” by Jeff and Judi Parziale Instepministries.com)
• Recognize what you did wrong in the first marriage and fix that immediately. You were not perfect, even if you were only at fault for 20 per cent of the problems in your first marriage. You need to spend 100 per cent of your time fixing that 20 per cent. Whatever dysfunction you had in the first marriage will not magically disappear in your second marriage. Negative patterns and behaviors have a way of repeating themselves. Your new marriage will have its own set of issues, so please do not bring in old issues. (Michael Smalley, from the Successfulstepfamilies.com article, “How to Have a Successful Second Marriage”)
• If you work these words into your life you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. (Matthew 7:24 -The Message)
• There are many differences between a remarriage and a first-time marriage. Time alone does not prepare you for remarriage. There’s a direct correlation between your preparation for remarriage and the success of your remarriage. A divorce or the death of a spouse can be a devastating experience, both to you and to your children. Healing from such tragedies takes time. (From the book, “Looking Before You Leap …Again!” by Jeff and Judi Parziale Instepministries.com)
• Over 50 per cent of Christian marriages end in divorce today in America. This means there are millions of couples who may remarry and try it again. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is double the divorce rate for first marriages. The question begs itself, “If couples are divorcing from a marriage that was unsatisfying and irreconcilable, then how are they making the mistake again at an even higher rate?” Here’s the deal, if you’re starting over in a new relationship you must recognize the importance of doing it differently. Sounds a tad simplistic doesn’t it? Individuals come into their second marriage with the same behaviors they had in their first, failed marriage. Just changing spouses is no cure for bad relationships.
If you’re starting over, please understand the necessity for getting counseling with your new mate to learn the skills it takes to have a satisfying marriage. You’re going to have to learn new ways of interacting with your spouse, or you’ll tend to simply fall back into the old ways of interacting, which led to your first divorce. We know today what it takes to have a successful and satisfying relationship; it’s not a mystery. There are specific skills, that if applied, that can actually eliminate your chances of divorce. Couples who receive premarital training increase their chances of staying married for a lifetime almost 80 per cent! (From Smalley Relationship Center)
• Humans have tendency to not learn from their mistakes. Most individuals, for example, learn nothing from their divorce and are therefore primed to enter a relationship without a clue as to why their last relationship failed. They seldom develop any new skill insights, so they’re destined to repeat the same behaviors or choose the same type of partners —over and over. (From the book, “Looking Before You Leap… Again!” by Jeff and Judi Parziale Instepministries.com)
• Leslie Parrott, who with her husband, Les, wrote the book Saving Your Second Marriage, says people go into their “encore marriages” with “a mythical sense of security that they won’t make the same mistakes again.” But, on the contrary, they make all kinds of mistakes. Some gravitate toward people who are similar to their previous spouses. Others get remarried to “get even” with a former spouse, or for financial reasons. Still others rush into another marriage because, being divorced, they feel out of step with the community or wonder if they’re “bad” people.”
You’re fragile after divorce. You might be depressed,” says Parrott, a professor at Seattle Pacific University, and that can lead to fantasizing about marriage, particularly by women. But, if anything, marriage can actually be harder the second time around, burdened with pressures that the first marriage didn’t have. (From: Smartmarriages.com Subject: Remarrying: Way of Life 6/03)
• Second marriages can be great marriages but the couples involved can feel left out and isolated when it comes to people understanding their situation. The complexities in creating new relationships with spouse, stepchildren and other relatives and friends can be overwhelming. There can be issues with each partner’s own children, the previous spouse, property and custody difficulties. Whether the new partners are widowed or divorced there are always the good and bad memories of the past, which are taken into this new relationship.
Some couples are unaware of the practical challenges that these new marriages create. For example whenever there is a family ceremony such as a baptism, wedding or funeral there can be complications as to who to invite, where they are to sit, and who is to make important decisions such as spreading of ashes. Inevitably these decisions are highly emotional and can bring out the best and worst in people. (From Married for Life Newsletter, MFL firstname.lastname@example.org 10/10/2006)
• Much of your personal readiness for remarriage depends on the state of your relationship with your former spouse, whether they are deceased or you are divorced. What lessons from your first marriage will you bring into your second marriage? Is there unresolved pain in relation to your first spouse that you still need to work through? The point is that before reentering marriage, you need to carefully examine the baggage you are bringing with you. (From the book, Saving Your Second Marriage Before it Starts, by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott)
• One of the great enemies of a blended family is the fact that we live in the age of instant everything. It’s natural for Mom and Dad to assume that they’ll have “instant success” with their new marriage and the new family it creates. Sometimes they naively assume that because they love each other so much and because they’ve found the “right” mate “this time,” marriage is going to be so much more wonderful the second time around, and the kids will gladly come along for the ride.
The truth is, however, that the term blended family is a misnomer. It’s much more accurate to say that a stepfamily is blending. It has not become completely blended, a process which may take years —or in some cases, never takes place at all. A glance at the various dictionary definitions will tell you that to blend something means mingling or combining certain components so that you achieve a measure of harmony. And that’s what you’re trying to do in your blending family. You want to harmonize all the various personalities while doing your best to keep conflict at minimum and avoid discriminating against one family member or another. (From the book, “Living in a Step Family Without Getting Stepped On” -by Dr Kevin Leman)
• Any engagement which cannot stand the asking of questions does not have a high likelihood of withstanding the pressure of married living in today’s society. It’s hard but far easier to break a dating relationship than an engagement. It’s hard but far easier to break an engagement than a marriage after the marriage vows have been spoken and children have been conceived, or born. (From the book, “Helping You Start Again … Pre-Remarriage Questions” -by Bobb and Cheryl Biehl)
• You can remain kind and courteous to your ex-wife, but you should keep communication and contact to a minimum and on a business level. This may sound pretty cold, but it is the best approach when there’s continued hostility, manipulation or efforts at rekindling old roles. Spouses, who continue sharing deep feelings and emotions, even negative ones, are still being “intimate” with each other. (From the book, “How to be First in a Second Marriage” by Rose Sweet)
• When a passive man does muster the immense courage to stand up to an ex-wife, usually after years of pleading, it’s a painful process to watch —it can be like a volcano letting loose. He has never been naturally assertive with women; now, pressured into response, he blasts forth in often overblown ways. A man who rarely raises his voice —maybe hasn’t done so in years or decades —can explode when he feels completely cornered. (Paul and Sandy Coughlin, from the book, Married But Not Engaged, p. 75)
• Whenever there is a divorce, family members often feel compelled to “take sides.” The new wife may be met with anything ranging from a cool reception to an outright snubbing. When this happens, the husband should make every effort not to place his new wife in a situation where this could occur again. If they have dinner with his parents, and there is tension or conversation meant to embarrass her, the husband needs to respond immediately in her defense. Not in anger, but setting firm boundaries. “Mother, Marsha is my new wife and deserves your courtesy. Your bringing up my ex-wife isn’t appropriate, and I’d like you to stop it.”
If Mom gets angry, hostile or defensive, the husband should try putting his arm around her and looking her right in the eye. “Mom, the past is past. I understand you’re having trouble with this, but I love Marsha. Won’t you try to, too?” If she still refuses, the husband should get up and take his wife home. He should tell his parents firmly but lovingly, “Mom, Dad, I want to visit you, but it seems like you need some time to accept Marsha. Please call me when you’re ready to have us over again.” Give them some time and a second chance. It may take awhile, but most family members will begin to open the door after they process their own anger, guilt and grief. (From the book, “How to be First in a Second Marriage” by Rose Sweet)
• Even without children as part of the remarriage picture, you will have a complicating factor that extenuates the adjustment period: baggage. The proverbial baggage you bring into this current marriage from your previous one takes time to unpack. Some call this the “invisible partner” of remarriage. He or she may live miles away, but on occasion it may seem like an ex-spouse is right there in your living room. Why? Because divorce doesn’t completely sever all attachments between ex-spouses. And even if your first marriage didn’t end in divorce and you lost your loving partner in another tragedy, you will contend with his or her presence in your new marriage. Guaranteed. That’s the price we pay for meaningful human relationships.
After all, at one point you invested your entire being into this individual, but for whatever reason the relationship is over. You can’t expect to leave that unscathed. Eventually, you have to admit that you lost a part of yourself when that relationship died. And if you have never fully grieved that loss, you will have all the more baggage to contend with. (From the book, “Saving Your Second Marriage Before It Starts” by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott)
• Guard your sex thought life. Many remarried spouses live with an unspoken insecurity about their previous relationship. In essence, we allow the ex to come to bed with us. After all, says Dr. Harry Jackson in In-Laws, Outlaws, and the Functional Family, “former couples were attracted to each other enough to marry. Many fear that the adage, ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder,’ just might come true. Some new spouses may wonder if there’s lingering sexual attraction for the ex-husband or ex-wife.”
The reality is that you’re probably thinking more about his ex than he is! Don’t allow the ex to ruin what belongs to you and your marriage. The goal is to erase the old mental tapes from your previous marriage and re-record new ones with your spouse. One good way is to do a reality check. “I’m not Jill, I’m Brooke. I’m not your first wife.” Sometimes that helps you both to realize that was then, this is now. (Ginger Kolbaba, from article: Sex the Second Time Around, Marriage Partnership Magazine, Summer 2006)
• While newly married couples enjoy a honeymoon period of bliss and basking in the love they have for each other, stepfamily couples hit the marital ground at a run. Their honeymoon period may not come for many years. In fact, research shows that it takes about seven years for the average stepfamily to “cook” or come together as a family unit. (Elsie Radtke)
• My husband and I started married life with 6 teenage and preteen children. It was so hard to balance the needs of all the children and be fair to everyone. It was hard for me to know whether my opinions were based on fact and logic or my feelings. It was hard to decide which things were important enough to make an issue of. When it came to child raising we had few areas of agreement. We made so many mistakes. However God is good. We have a strong family that only uses the word step only if it is really needed to clarify. Like why my son has two fathers attending an event. We have made an effort to have good relationships with the other parents and above survived the hectic years following our marriage. We are about to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary. (From a subscriber to Marriage Missions)
• A Step Parenting Rule: Generally, a woman can never love a man anymore than her husband loves her children. (Kevin Leman)
• STEPS FOR STEPFATHERS: Step 1. The Stepfather Can’t Function as Does the Biological Father. He is not the father and never will be. The stepfather is the male head of the household. Together with his wife, the children’s mother, he can be a guide, a mentor, and even a psychological father to the stepchildren, over time. Go slow. Step 2. Structuring the Household Is a Shared Task Between Husband and Wife. How is the time, energy, and money used? What are the duties, responsibilities, and contributions of each member of the household? This must be sorted out and decided by the couple. Step 3. The Norms and Forms of Discipline Must Be Discussed and Agreed to by the Couple. Generally, the biological parent does the disciplining and the stepparent reminds, “In this house we…” (From the Winningstepfamilies.com article 10 Steps for Stepfathers, by Jeannette Lofas)
• Your partner will react to an act of kindness directed toward their child as if you had extended two acts of kindness directly towards them (your partner). The same applies for an unkind act, but your partner is likely to react as if you had acted unkindly towards them (your partner) five times. (From booklet “Tools to Master 4 Essential Stepfamily Tasks” by The Stepfamily Foundation of Alberta Stepfamily.ca)
• Don’t compete with a child’s biological parent. Even if the child is angry or disappointed at her birth parent, be a positive influence. Help the child believe that she is loved by that parent. (Romie Hurley, one of the authors of the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)
• The Stepmother can’t function, as does the biological mother. She is not the mother and never will be. The stepmother is the female head of the household. Together with her husband, the children’s father, she can be a guide, a mentor, and even a psychological mother to the stepchildren, over time. Go slow. (From the Winningstepfamilies.com article, 10 Steps for Stepmothers, by Jeannette Lofas)
• There is a promised land for step families. It lies at the end of a long, sometimes perilous journey, one that lasts from 4-7 years (or even more). Most families are not prepared. This journey begins with loss. There are fears attached to letting go of what’s familiar, even if the familiar is an unhealthy place. Many family members are confused about their identity, and have hopes and unrealistic expectations that soon turn into grumbling and doubt.
Wandering around in the desert of confusion the questions start, “Did I make the right choice? Can I really learn to love these people? Will they ever love me?” Dismay sets in with the discovery that the trip is filled with uncertainty and confusion. The realization comes that you and your traveling companions are carrying a lot of baggage that’s slowing you down. There will be a ‘sea of opposition’ and many barriers to overcome.” Perhaps I should have just stayed where I was. Maybe I should go back; things weren’t this bad.”
The trip takes much longer than you thought it would. Looking across the river, you can see that the land does have promise, but also danger and risk. “Can I do this? Is it really worth the risks?” Crossing over takes commitment. “Is God going to be with me? Does He really believe in step families?” There are battles to fight and a promise to be fulfilled, but you must endure the journey. Many never make it to the land of promise. (From the book: “The Journey … A Traveling Guide for Christian Step families” by Jeff Parziale, Ph.D. and Judi Parziale Ph.D. Instepministries.com)
• Marrying into a blended family can be compared to driving different vehicles. Perhaps I’ve been used to driving our family car on country roads, puttering along nice and easy, taking the curves with caution and experienced control. Now, all of a sudden, I find myself driving a semi-truck during the Los Angeles rush hour. I may have done quite well before, but I’m not on country roads anymore. I have taken the ramp to a superhighway or, as books in the field of counseling say, the “supra-system.” (Tom and Adrienne Frydenger, from Resolving Conflict in the Blended Family)
• When we give workshops about blended family skills, marriage is the most controversial ingredient in our Recipe for Blended Family Success®. Specifically, it’s not that anyone disagrees that looking after your marriage is an important blended family. It’s just that we get a lot of gasps when we say that you must put your marriage first —before your children. If you find yourself gasping as you read this, bear with us for a moment.
Putting your marriage first in no way means your children are not a priority. It also does not mean you don’t do everything as parents to give the children the best guidance, love, and support you can for a good start in life. What it does mean is that you attend to your relationship with your new spouse as a primary means of being the best parents you can be. (John Penton and Shona Welsh, from the book, “Yours, Mine, and Hours”)
• Remember that both you and your new mate have the role of leadership in this family. Pay attention to each other. Support each other. Talk things out before they become a problem. Agree to solutions and then be accountable for your part in carrying that out. (Elsie Radtke)
• Clearly sort out discipline and guidance methods and styles as a couple. Couples decide on discipline and bio-parent generally directs behavior. In the absence of the bio-parent, the stepparent reminds the child of household rules. He/she might begin “in this house we…”. An effective parent or stepparent disciplines the action and the behaviors and does not put down the child, thereby keeping the child’s self-esteem intact. (Jeannette Lofas, from the Stepfamilies.com article “10 Steps for Building Couple Strength”)
• You are going to encounter a whole range of issues that you resist, come into conflict over, and plain just don’t understand about the new spouse, the new children, and the new family. Some of them you may not even want to admit to yourself for they seem so small and petty. Trust us —it’s the small and petty things that will get you first. Always keep in mind that it’s okay to feel these things. (You are human, after all!) What matters is how you handle them.
Some of the issues we examine include: – How good intentions for having a wonderful family aren’t enough – Common challenges for blended parents – That guilt thing and how to manage it by not putting impossible standards on yourself – Understanding that resisting all the issues is a waste of your time and energy, and that you must start with what you’ve got – How to deal with all the fear, reaction, and worry living in a blended family brings out in you – Learning the Ten Laws of Acceptance in a blended family and how they’ll help you keep your sanity. There are numerous issues we discovered in the complexity of our blended family, all of which we learned can begin to be solved by adopting an approach of Acceptance. Notice that we said begin to be resolved. Acceptance is your starting point for moving ahead, not the cure-all for your numerous frustrations. (John Penton and Shona Welsh, from the book, “Yours, Mine, and Hours”)
• Intimacy is developed from time shared together. In stepfamilies, total strangers are living under the same roof. There are no common memories or traditions to draw people together. All families have a past. However, in step families the past is much more complex, because a step family’s past includes baggage from the family of origin of each spouse, and “ghosts” —negative experiences —from previous marriages.
Also, different subsystems within the family import divergent memories. There are parent-child relationships that predate the couple relationship. This deprives the couple of the opportunity to develop an intimate relationship without children around. Developing a shared history is a major task, often made difficult by the fact that many children, typically teenagers, are not interested in developing a shared history. For some children, making new memories in the stepfamily is a form of disloyalty to their former family. One idea is to begin a few new traditions that supplement, rather than replace, the old ones. (From the book: “The Journey … A Traveling Guide for Christian Step families” by Jeff Parziale, Ph.D. and Judi Parziale, Ph.D. Instepministries.com)
• TO BUILD MEMORIES AND FAMILY UNITY: Hold a family meeting and choose a summer service project you can all work on together. Suggestions include the following: volunteer to care for the animals at the local humane society, clean up trash around your neighborhood, go on a short-term missions trip with your church, deliver food to shut-ins, serve meals at a local food bank, help around your church (folding bulletins, painting an office, answering phones). (Ron Deal)
• Blended families are less cohesive than nuclear families. Webster’s dictionary defines cohere as “to hold together firmly as parts of the same mass” and “to become united in principles, relationships, or interests.” Because of the pre-existing alliances and loyalties different members bring into blended families, the existence of two households with permeable boundaries for the children and impermeable boundaries for the adults and the feelings of loss and insecurity held by their members, blended families do not have inherent “stick-togetherness.” They have to work to become united, to “hold together firmly as parts of the same mass.” (From the book, “Resolving Conflict in the Blended Family” by Tom and Adrienne Frydenger)
• “When you bring two families together, you can be guaranteed some Armageddon evenings,” says Dr Kevin Leman. “When these families unite, they don’t blend —they collide.”
• If you’re marrying someone who already has children, your future spouse will naturally want his/her children to feel good about your relationship. The role of being a stepparent is not an easy one. Make time to read as much as you can about the role of being a stepparent. Whenever possible, consult with other authorities, or talk with other couples who have children from previous marriages. Ask the tough questions and don’t be afraid to discuss your doubts and fears. Also, talk about your step-parenting role with your fiancé. Ask about his/her expectations of you. Use some of these questions to dig deeper into this issue: • How would you like me to help with the children? • How do you see my role as a stepparent? • What do you think your children want, or expect, from me? • In what ways do you see me helping to discipline the children? • How can we help make our marriage a smoother transition for your children? (Todd Outcalt, Before You Say “I Do”)
• Since there are often “ex’s” on one or both sides of the new stepfamily, there will be issues of parenting. Children will maximize their advantage here and play each side against the other. The stepparent often feels dis-empowered and ignored. It may help to understand that biology is a primary bonding dynamic. No matter how wonderful and loving a stepparent may be to the children, biological bonds are stronger. It is the responsibility of the biological parent in the home to manage discipline of the children. On occasion, the biological parent can delegate that power to the stepparent on a particular issue or for a period of time. For example, because dad has to work late, the stepmother has his permission to check homework and impose consequences if it is not completed. (Elsie Radtke)
• When children from two different households become a blended family their tendency will be to stake out their individual turf and lay out a strategy which ensures them maximum freedom. With a firm hand, time, and love, gradually each child will become familiar with the other and barriers will slowly disintegrate. Each child is unique. Therefore, before the wedding, the future husband and wife should discuss together the temperaments of each child. At this time it’s wise for them to develop a unified strategy for how each child will be handled. (From the book, “The Master’s Degree” by Frank and Bunny Wilson)
• Parents should require civility, not love, from their children. As much as biological parents would like stepparents and stepchildren to love each other, we cannot require, or even expect them to love each other with a deep heart-felt bond. You can, however, encourage them to act in loving, respectful ways. Early on say something like this: “You have a father (or mother) who will always be your father. Joe is your stepfather. I love him; you do not have to love him. I hope over time you will get to know him and maybe even love him. Meanwhile, you do need to be respectful of each other.” (Tips for Building a Healthy Family – from the Successfulstepfamilies.com web site)
• Remarriage can be tough on children; most children aren’t prepared for their parents to remarry. This often difficult for remarrying adults to understand because they’re so happy and so desperately want a better life for themselves and their children. The remarrying adult assumes his or her children will be as happy as they are. They reason that since they were unhappy in their prior marriage, the children were probably also unhappy. Or they believe that they’ve sheltered their children from the pain a broken marriage.
They further reason that since they’re now happy with a new love and soon to be new spouse, their children must be equally happy. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. Children struggle with the losses and changes resulting from a death or divorce, even many years after the event. In addition, children don’t adapt as quickly as adults. Most children are just getting over the loss of their family and settling in to the routine of single-parent life when they discover that mom or dad is getting remarried. Ask the average child and he or she will tell you about a desire to return to the original family, about missing the non-custodial parent, about spending less and less time with the custodial parent and about fears and uncertainties concerning the future. In the midst of their own personal changes, parents need to be sensitive to the adjustment needs of their children. (From the book, “Looking Before You Leap …Again!” by Jeff and Judi Parziale, Instepministries.com)
• Remember that husband and wife must blend first. There are 1300 new stepfamilies every day, so the blended family is here to stay. Yet it takes about 7 years to blend. The point is, you and your spouse have got to decide from the outset to be in it for the long haul —by blending first, and with the most solid of bonds. Unfortunately, the kids will try to break up the marriage. They will try to drive a wedge between you as a couple. Part of the challenge for them is to see if you two are for real. Are you two blended? Have the two really become one? That’s what those kids are trying to find out. And they’re going to test you on it. Until you both blend and identifiably become that “one flesh,” as the Bible describes it, the rest of the family won’t blend. Surprisingly, if you remain strong, something interesting happens. When they know they can’t defeat you, that you have become one in marriage, the kids begin adding wonderful things to the marriage. (From the book, Becoming a Couple of Promise -by Dr Kevin Leman)
• Second marriages with children require weekly date nights and at least one weekend getaway a year to stay healthy. While this advice is good for first marriages, second marriages like these start with all the responsibilities of parenthood and step-parenthood attached. Time away from kids and talk of kids is vital to deepening the foundation of the couple. (Karen L. Maudlin, from Kyria.com article titled: Succeeding at Second Marriages.)
• Whenever possible, let each parent discipline his own child. Instead of starting with drill-sergeant-like discipline, work instead on forming a relationship with your stepchildren over a period of time. Defer to the parent of your stepchild. Don’t treat kids the same because, just as God made you and your spouse to be different, God made them different. Remember: You don’t have to love the other kids. You have to respect them. Love does not demand its own way. A mother told me that once she started to respect her husband’s children, she soon discovered that she had learned to love them as well. (From the book, Becoming a Couple of Promise – by Dr Kevin Leman)
• Joseph and Mary mastered the art of blending a family. As we all know, Joseph was really just a step dad to Jesus. Therefore, in Luke 2:41-52, when Mary and Joseph confronted Jesus in the temple to complain about His being AWOL from the family, notice who did the talking (see verse 2:48). In this case, Jesus knew what He was doing, but as marriage partners blending a family, so did Joseph and Mary. (From the book, Becoming a Couple of Promise -by Dr Kevin Leman)
• Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage, but love and remarriage aren’t as neatly complementary. The carriage may be so crowded that the horse has trouble pulling it. (Susan Kelley)
• Stepfamilies unique challenges. Those of us who have been in previous marriages often have past hurts and wounds that are not completely healed. If you are not careful, you’ll take out your bitterness for your ex-spouse on your present spouse. You may also see in your own actions repeated patterns from your past marriage that may even have contributed in some way to your divorce. In either case, it’s important to allow God to cleanse us of all bitterness and forgive those who have hurt us in the past (see: Ephesians 4:31-32). (Christy Burcham, from Familylife.com article: Could Someone Please Pass the Grace!)
• Make sure you’re not still haunted by the ghost of marriage past. Emotional and spiritual healing from divorce or the death of a spouse takes time; in fact, the average person requires three to five years before they can be discerning about a new relationship. Don’t let the rebound-bug bite you where it hurts. After his wife died of cancer Gary found himself lonely and feeling inadequate to care for his daughter. “I guess I needed a partner and I wanted a mother for my child,” he said. This emptiness lead him to rush into a new marriage that ended after just one year. Remember, time is your best friend so slow down the dating process. (Ron L. Deal, from Growthtrac.com article, Is Remarriage a Step in the Right Direction.)
• I would like to have engraved inside every wedding band “Be kind to one another.“ This is the Golden Rule of Marriage and the secret of making love last through the years. (Randolph Ray)