We are just one month away from our first wedding anniversary, which will also mark one year together as a blended family. Of course, with 4 busy kids and us only having them 50% of the time, it has been difficult to “blend” and get to know each other.
When we bring two families together after living very separate lives for a long period of time, it feels a bit like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. We want it to work so bad that we keep pushing and forcing that square peg insisting that it will fit into the round hole!
However, what we want and the reality are often two separate things.
One of the most common sayings is “Stepfamilies cook in a crock pot, not a blender.” (Thank you Ron Deal) Obviously that means that bringing together a stepfamily takes time, and they aren’t forced together but come together in their own way, in their own time. Unlike that of whipping together a quick protein shake in a blender.
According to Patricia Papernow, the average stepfamily needs SEVEN years to create a family identity, and some take longer. The different ingredients of our family – and yours – will come together in time. Trust the process and don’t force it.
Remember to put your marriage first. However, while your relationship should set the tone for your new household, it doesn’t always work out they way you want. A healthy marriage is critical to the success of a blended family, but it doesn’t mean the stepfamily won’t struggle. Ours for instance has struggled to come together in the first year. Some kids will adapt quickly (1 of ours did), others might gradually, and still others may resist (probably 3 of our 4). If this happens, don’t hit the panic button. Accept where each child is, keep building the relationship and most importantly – maintain the crockpot mentality!
Unfortunately, as with our marriage and blended family experience, outside forces will seek to divide your marriage. Formers spouses do interfere and sometimes have more influence over a family schedule than you do. It is ULTRA – and I mean ULTRA – important not to let that dynamic interrupt the unity you have as a newly remarried couple and family. Become expert communicators and be sure to constantly include each other in decisions.
Finishing up with the crockpot analogy, if you take out a beef stew after only 30 minutes it won’t taste very well. But if you allow all the ingredients to work together over 6 hours, softening and sharing themselves at their own pace, it produces a well-cooked meal. (Though still not one that our little Molly would eat…)
So remember this – PATIENCE – as with many things, is key to the success of yours (and our) blended family. And, if you are still waiting for the honeymoon (as we are), we are told by experts that it comes at the end of the journey rather than the beginning. Though we are hoping for maybe somewhere in the middle!
(Special thanks to Ron Deal who is an expert in this field. See this article from him: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/marriage-challenges/remarriage-and-blended-families/so-wheres-the-honeymoon)