Hope and I decided to start this blog in the middle of September. We set up the site, started a Twitter account for our blog, and were all set to get started. The following week, an opportunity came up for Hope that had an impact on her first post, and will have an impact on our family for a long time. She mentioned it here, and I want to use it as an example of what I believe the secret is to making a remarriage and a blended family work. That secret is simply this: be sold out.
We’ve now been married for a year and a half. It seems like time has gone into warp speed, but I can look back and see where we’ve made little decisions and big decisions that have had a positive impact on where our marriage and family is headed. Decisions like taking the time each week to sit around the table as a family and just talk. All five of us. Decisions like getting involved in a church after we moved to a new area. When Hope made the decision to go to the Stepmom Conference, it made an impact both on me and the children. That kind of decision sends a message: “I want to learn how to do this right, whatever it takes.” Making decisions like that ensures that there is positive momentum, which is important when negative forces come into play, and we all know that they do.
Being sold out to your spouse and family isn’t some new idea. This doesn’t only work for remarriages. We know that is how you make a first marriage work too. There are different dynamics in a step or blended family, but the principles are still the same. That being said, they are more difficult to implement in a remarriage because of loyalties to the children, the relationship with the “exes”, and all of the complications/drama that come from divorce. Hope and I have learned that we have to make each other the priority first, be sold out to each other, and that our relationship sets the tone for the entire family. If the children see any disharmony or disunity between her and I, the consequences of that would be immediate and damaging. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree all of the time, it means that when you disagree, you do it in a discussion that takes place without the children around. You keep the emotions out of it, you let the dust settle. Being sold out to each other and to your family means putting your desire to be right aside, making a commitment to come together to discuss the situation.
My mom passed away two weeks ago. Because of our custody arrangement, and the circumstances surrounding her death, Hope ended up being the first from our home to have any personal contact with the boys after her death. I was four hours away, and had been gone for nearly a week while my mom was on life support. Hope became the one responsible for picking the boys up after school and riding four hours with them as they dealt with their grandmother’s death. This is a tough situation for a step-mother to be placed in, yet she handled it perfectly. A lesser woman would have backed down, would’ve said “you need to drive home to get them, I can’t handle this.” Never once did I sense any fear from her, she remained sold out to the boys and to our family.
Being sold out to the family means being placed in difficult circumstances and handling it with grace. It means putting the fear aside and conquering whatever the situation is without letting your feelings get in the way. If you are struggling with your remarriage or your blended family because you operate in protective mode, it’s time to let your guard down. The only way to make it work is to make yourself vulnerable to your spouse, your children, and your step-children. When you’ve been divorced, this is tough because you’ve already been burned. Don’t let the scars from the past keep you from looking forward and seeing what is in store. Be sold out completely to making it work, and that will go a long way toward making sure that this time around you get it right.