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Improving Your Marriage as a Blended Family Couple (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
April 8, 2021 6:00 am

Improving Your Marriage as a Blended Family Couple (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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April 8, 2021 6:00 am

Author and speaker Ron Deal offers couples in blended families advice on how they can assess the strengths of their marriage and improve on areas of weakness in light of the particular challenges they face in parenting stepchildren. (Part 2 of 2) (Original air date: Oct. 29, 2015)

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We recently had a conversation and she said to me why I keep becoming the wicked stepmother is not who I normally am, but I'm so frustrated with some of the circumstances that take place with my husband's ex-wife and how we have to deal with her in the frustrations that creates for us that I find myself getting quick-tempered, not listen to that which is not traditionally the right right so the context is bringing that out in whereas she's not normally that way insights from Ron Diehl often councils and teaches. We married couples how to manage stepfamily life.

Ron was with us last time and were going to return to this important topic today on Focus on the Family your hostess focus Pres. and Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller, John. Last time we heard from Ron about the unique challenges that married couples experience in a blended family context and we may get some complaints for covering this. I get that but Focus on the Family is always supported the sacred commitment of marriage and were well aware of the hardships. Single parents can face and how divorce will disrupt families but God is in the business of redemption and restoration. There's plenty of biblical stories that demonstrate that and even in a broken family situation he can bring healing and new hope for a new future. So we want to come alongside these blended family couples and help them build a better stronger relationship in Christ and help them fight the risk of another divorce and the fact is a lot of what Ron shared last time and will share today is applicable to all of us. We in the Christian community need to do better in our marriages, living out the fruit of the spirit with our spouse, which includes love, joy, peace, patience, and much more. So I encourage everyone to lean into this conversation today because it's really good stuff.

And if you missed the conversation last time I get the download or request the CD you will not regret it. And when you get in touch ask about Ron's book that is been really the basis for conversation is called the smart stepfamily marriage keys to success in the blended family.

Call us for your copy 800 K in the word family or stop by the episode notes to learn more.

And here now is where Jim resumed our conversation with Ron Diehl on Focus on the Family run for those that are picking up today that didn't hear last time we talked a lot about fear getting a handle on fear.

The idea of pursuing humility is a great way of conflict resolution and dealing with those unique pressures that are in the stepfamily. Let's talk about expectations to kick it off today I would think that you know, again, for whatever reason, the first marriage or the previous marriage has ended and wife or husband is going into this marriage with expectations. Probably some negative expectations to infect you refer to that is Ghostbusters not talk about the Ghostbusters analogy well will we all have a little residue on our hearts. After we go through a terrible loss by death or by divorce. It leaves something with you. It makes you blink what I mean by that is, trust is just a little bit more difficult. And so the residue creates this, the ghost of marriage passed as we like to say that just leads people to wonder if they can fully trust their partner was that go say to you, well, for different people. It says different things. For example, for the person whose spouse just turned and walked out, had an affair and let it the marriage is over a.m. you didn't see it coming and there is the ghost says or life can turn on a dime. Don't lean into far too I think for women. It's worse it though. Here I'm not good enough, and there you go. So the ghost for them is a shot to her self-esteem and who she is and how valuable she is and so she was left wondering if in her second marriage. She's wondering MI is valuable to him as I would like to be because that's where my securities can come so all of which just leads to that darkness that we been talking about and and I am my message to couples in stepfamilies is you cannot let that garden is control you because you will lean away from your spouse rather than leaning in, you will share some of who you are but you won't share all of who you are, you will make assumptions when they say things you will assume the worst and their words, what they really mean right that's what you think you know what is really saying is I'm not valuable when he may just be pointing out something that irritates him, but an irritation is not. I reject you. And that's the difference. You take a little thing you take, but nine comments and turn them into malignant comments and that erodes the relationship way and what strikes me Ron. It seems that the fruit of the spirit is an uphill achievement in the fruit of the other fruit is really a downhill and let me ask you this question. Why is it so easy for us as human beings to fall downhill into that ugly fruit of division and disunity and lack of love lack of humility. All the things that are listed there. In Galatians it so hard to reach.

It's like the fruit of the spirit is in the top part of the tree and hard for us to get to us human beings. Why is that I got a couple thoughts.

I think one of them is because were fallen K but along with that is I can do it. I think we spent farm too much time in marriage ministry in education and parent training and whatnot with building families talking about all you can do to grow who you are. That's an important thing I need to have an attitude about Ron that says I need to grow and I need to learn, but that needs to be rooted in my dependence on God and the Holy Spirit working in my life. If I'm not rooted there. I'm never going to find the strength to overcome my frailties and my faults and is gonna be some things that just plague my marriage with Nan for our entire life. But if I don't have humility. I'm not hearing how may times did Jesus say to people you have eyes to see, but don't see you have ears to hear, but you don't hear just because you're around Jesus doesn't mean you actually see Jesus on all of us who are living and breathing. Parents, husbands and wives. We've got a really open ourselves to what Jesus is saying to us about me, then I can grow then I can change then I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to be more well I mean that is excellent and that's where it all starts is that relationship with Jesus Christ. Let let me talk about again those expectations that were especially with kids because that can be all over the map. What the kids are expecting out of the stepparent what the stepparents expecting out of the children and to his or her new spouse talk about that, while environment where expectations are all over the place.

Yeah, you know, it was interesting when we went into the study I really thought that most of the couples had never really anticipated that the stepfamily dynamics might bring stress to their marriage. I was proven wrong. I love that one improvement. Actually I hate that that sounds more on what can you do is right there is the humility I got it on it. 88% of couples going into a marriage with kids anticipate there's gonna be some stresses and strains well there right there are, but here's what we learned just because they anticipate the stress doesn't mean they know what to do about it. A full 50% of the couples in our study. In another study, 75% of the couples never had a conversation about how to parent.

So here you are asking about the expectations of parenting, but couples hadn't really thought through it enough to even have a conversation around it before they got married. What that says is their expectation is that because you and I love each other parenting things just gonna work out just fine, but you will figure that out as we go.

And my message to people is what will well you got understand this should be so big that it determines whether or not you get married if you can't see eye to eye on the parenting things, raising the kids then you really need to rethink the timing of marriage or a decision to even get married. It's really important what I'm hearing you say is the intentionality for step couples critical you're more mature yes you know the pitfalls you've perhaps come out of a bad situation got to redouble your efforts to understand what those expectations should be up were talking about conflicts and couples in stepfamilies. I'm thinking about a woman who just wrote to us on Facebook and and what she said is you know I've held my kids to the standard of A's and B's in school, I married a man who is standard is whatever Wright and his ex-wife cut has a whatever standard for their kids and so you know his daughter brought home sees this semester for two semesters in a row and I'm sitting here trying to figure out how do I keep holding my kids to the standard of A's and B's.

We can talk about standards in education. That's one thing but obviously they're not together in their home. It's a home divided.

This is not only a parenting issue. It is now a marital issue and for couples in stepfamilies.

This just stirs up the fear run in your book.

The smart stepfamily marriage. You talk about that closeness and flexibility. The need for that in a step couple you encourage them to take a relaxed view about change that caught my attention because that's hard for people to do because temperaments come into play. Yeah, to me that's a temperament statement. If you're a type a person driven your organize, you have a task list your working out every day I meet all that kind of thing that usually comes with a task oriented person to tell them that they need to relax toward their view about change is like pushing water uphill right. How does a person who's got that temperament here that advice so that they can be more successful in a step couple relationship so the principle is flexibility. Flexibility helps you find alternative solutions to stepfamily dilemmas that you may not have just seen on the surface, and without flexibility. Sometimes you won't find a solution but the person as you describe who just tends to be a go-getter.

Let's take the hill in charge is not very flexible. Sometimes, right there pretty rigid in their thinking about how things should be done. I think were back to.

Here's how we apply humility and I coach couples to say this you what I know about me. Imagine this guy were taught about Gaia and standing before his wife and he says this out loud when I know about me is that I'm that type a guy and I'm ready to take the hill by charge, but what I know is that if I don't slow down will get ahead of ourselves and then you and I will end up in different places and will have more conflict so I need to just pause because the truth is, we can probably take a deep breath and be okay. What is just done out loud is think through and talk himself into a different attitude. What is also doing in the in the meantime is showing his wife that he's managing who he is. In that moment, which means she doesn't have to manage who he is right because we often find it couples get into that little bind right where she's trying to make them different when he takes responsibility right back to Jesus. You know you own the log in your I write that comes first will then it softens the interaction between them, then they're more likely to find a new solution I'm picking on the type a person let's go the other direction and it's you know that step couple and the wife feels like her husband's not stepping up. He's so relaxed about change that is not participating in it and I was just out of the picture. How does that spouse address that issue that you're not engaged right question.

Let's assume there's a history here that in the past when she was frustrated with him not taking action that she would come and criticizing him coaching would be the word. She would yes he would use the word control me right they see it differently and so let's just apply the very same principle to her. Imagine her coming to her husband and starting the conversation with this honey what I know about me is that sometimes I get critical of you and I make you feel like you're inadequate and I want you know I'm not doing that right now the matter of fact I'm trying to manage that part of me and I'm trying to speak with respect and I do have a need for you and I to figure out how we can take action on something and I'd like for us to talk about that but please know I am not telling you you're bad or it's all your fault. I just imagine her much more motive. My goodness right now he is going. Oh look, she's just dealing with the log in her eye. I don't have to deal with that log in her eye. I can now just deal with me and when I need to do is I need to just come to say okay I gotta step up and I'm going to try to challenge myself limit it calms the interaction it slows the interaction. It invites seat first Peter 55 says put on humility towards one another because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. There's a principle here, even for marriages. When I come with you with harshness you will oppose me, just like God is if I come with humility and softness you will have grace and now we have two people outdoing each other with grace that always leads to a better outcome. I said I agree with Ron deal so much. He's offering us really wonderful spiritual truths that all of us can apply in our relationships, whether you're a first-time marriage or remarriage situation.

You can apply those concepts of humility and grace to pre-much every relationship. Find out more about the book that Ron cowrote with David Olson. It's called the smart stepfamily marriage.

You can order your copy by calling 800 K in the word family 800-232-6459 or click the link in the episode's and let me point out to you that the wonderful counseling team available if you need to talk with someone about issues in your marriage or your family be privileged to set up an initial consultation with one of them when you contact us.

Just let us know and we'll have one of those great counselors give you a call back and if the relationship with your spouse is in serious jeopardy.

If you are without hope. And we have an intensive counseling session available to you. You'll meet several days in a row with some couples who were also struggling, maybe even on the brink of divorce. Our hope restored marriage intensive's offer a lifeline to couples. The good news is that 80% 4/5 couples that we surveyed.

After attending hope restored are doing better. Two years later they're still together in their flourishing. Let us tell you more about hope restored Christian counseling services were that great book smart stepfamily marriage number 800 K in the word family or stop by the episode notes to learn more and let's return to the conversation with Ron which I asked this question and run. I'd like to back to the illustration had because I'm still thinking about this, we experience a little bit of managing expectations about grades in our home so I can imagine the difficulties when you've got two sets of kids and parents with differing perspectives to go back to that illustration and talk about the wife's expectation for higher standards. The husband's kids have it easier. How do I deal with all that we then this idea of flexibility that we mentioned a moment ago and some conflict management as well. What can she do in that situation you really want me to solve that dilemma and to have a friend going through this, though it's a great question. And really, life is full of those really hard dilemma. Sometimes, and so let me talk around it because I've looked all throughout the Bible and I haven't found the answer for what grade should be right in terms of expectations from parents. So parents have to do what parents have to do we have to make a decision with the best wisdom we have available to us with what we know and we have to try to move forward with that in our home. What I would encourage this couple to move toward is unity that does it mean exactly the same. Does that mean they both buy and exact same philosophy. Not necessarily.

It just means that they come up with a standard that they can both live with you, but flexibility here means perhaps to her. I have to give up that's right. And it could mean to him. He has to give up the expose give a little give a little, I mean, my guess is cooperation on both sides will really be helpful for both of them to understand hey, this is where I come from, and this is why it matters to me that you get all his in B's. This is why it matters to me that we not worry about a C.

They both need to know what's going on inside them around and talk it out and share with that. I also think there is a matter of what's good parenting what's good education. You guys have Cynthia Tobias on here a lot talking about that sort of thing and you go to other standards like those people and understand what a good philosophy is in general for helping kids that becomes a backdrop that informs you in your conversation with one another at the end of the day you have to find a way to be more together than apart. You simply cannot lead the home as a couple from two different places and so sometimes it means calling grandma. Sometimes it means: in your small group for you know input sometimes you gotta go to pastor a counselor and really hash this out.

I tell couples it may take two minutes to make it decision like this. Sometimes it takes two months of really deep conversation and pulling and all your assets but at the end of the day you gotta come out with a similar standard that run last time we really concentrate on marriage relationship. John's introduce the children. Let's talk about the need for guarding the marriage and this is applicable to first-time married couples as well and I see it in for Jane and myself. We got to be mindful that the kids move on. But you're with your spouse, hopefully for the rest of your life and were we make a mistake in may be over pursuing overindulging over doing the parent-child relationship in a step family context and and how does a spouse help the other spouse.

See that it's a little over the top and were damaging our relationship and what are some of the circumstances that lead to couples instead families have to guard their marriage just like couples and first marriages. They just have more stressors. Honestly they do, they have more internal and external stressors the kids the ex-spouses that the ex-mother-in-law who wants to see the kids. It think skipping Christmas and and you know every other Friday and how do we work that in our calendar. What's your expectation of that person's mind that there is are so many things that can kinda pull and train on the couples relationship so guarding their marriage and finding that leisure time. For example, just take a walk around the block and hold hands and just decompress the day and just be together and just cannot just be calm.

Try to find that little place of respite with one another. Those things really matter, even if it's a five minute walk because it says I work were here were together and were working to continue to ride this out use the term committed love and the book that that sounds great. We all want that, especially from our spouse talk about what you meant by committed love. Well it's that covenant attitude that says were in this thing for life.

For couples, instead families that that means declaring to everyone around you were in this thing for life. I mean, in the beginning.

This is really important for couples to fame is to hear me say this right in the beginning. Your children are not nearly as invested in the success of your marriage as you are. That's very different than in the first marriage and a first marriage biological traditional family. Everybody's invested in the success of mom and dad's marriage if they're not happy were not happy if they're separated, we want to back together again. Everybody's invested equally. But in a stepfamily on day one the couples invested in their marriage but the kids well maybe, you know, take it or leave it be okay if be okay if you didn't stay together that's different. That's very different so you as the couple have to be committed to that long term relationship, even if other people around you are not concluding your kids including your kids and that can feel strange sometimes you feel like maybe you're betraying your kids.

Sometimes parents report feeling. I feel like manna, it's like I'm doing something that is put them in a hard place in their life. Well, yes, there are adjustments.

And yes, sometimes there not necessarily excited about your marriage. But here's the good news with the honeymoon that we talked about in a previous broadcast comes at the end of the journey later and as the crockpot is bringing you all together then it is something they can celebrate they do celebrate your committed love. You just have to be the one to take the lead on that Ron is weak in the second day of this discussion is been really good and I think there's been so many good things for all of us in a marriage relationship whether to first marriage or you know marriage that came after certain circumstances you have described for me so many things. The one that I'm really caught on this communication, the way the you have today role-played that and for those spouse. Either the husband or the wife to communicate with the partner to say, here's what I'm feeling. I'm not wanting to come at you but you gotta help me here. Here's where Matt coming in that spirit of humility. It's so wonderful. The question that I've got on that though is if you look at communication. Marriage is a four or five step process. Why in the world are we so inept that the first step like we go down line. We want to resolve the course you want resolved.

We wanted to do the right thing but for us to simply say here's how I'm feeling. This is wounded me. I need to better understand your heart. I don't want to strike back verbally.

I don't want to respond to that. How come it's so hard for us to do that first step that you role-play for spell.

I think it takes a lot of emotional intelligence honestly you. Humility is a heart issue.

I've told marriage educators for the last five years. I said, you know, I've wondered for years where I could teach communication skills to some couples and they would use it and other couples would use it in rehearsal and practice and walk out of the counseling room and never use it ever again. In real life, go right back to the fight.

What was the difference in the difference is the heart. The difference is I am willing to deal with me before God. And now, before you without that attitude, I will just blame you. I will just defend myself I will just get harsh and critical. I will just lash out and do all the things I know I'm not supposed to do. It's human nature, it's innocence.

Adam and Eve in the garden for crying out loud.

That's where it all started blame her blame him. Blame God for the woman you gave me.

It's who we are unless were willing to slow down, take a deep breath, say a prayer I mean I think that's where the Lord help me see me now I can deal with me first then that affords me.

I think some influence and now I can deal with you and we can deal with each other but we do so with a spirit of grace that is so well said, and that's a good place to in this two-part series, I appreciate so much for your effort and your co-author on the smart stepfamily marriage. There is a lot a good meeting here. The survey which I think would be interesting for all married couples to take an rawness is been great having you.

Thanks for being here John. I so appreciate the great insights and sensitivity that Ron deal brings every time we cover remarriage or blended family topics. He has committed his life to helping couples love one another well in those circumstances, and as we've already mentioned Ron's got a lot of great wisdom and encouragement for every couple whether you're in a stepfamily or not and that's why I recommend our listeners get a copy of Ron's book.

This is a wonderful resource. In fact, I'd like to put a copy of the smart stepfamily marriage in your hands when you send a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today and that's how much we believe in Ron's content. Get a copy for yourself or for another couple you know that might need it. Maybe your church.

Contact us today our number is 800 K and the word family 800-232-6459 or you can donate and get the book by clicking the link in the episode notes and John we know when ever we address the topic of marriage. There are people listening right now who are facing a crisis with their spouse. We get that maybe you're in that situation right now and you don't have much hope for the future. If that's the case I want to urge you to contact us about hope restored, which is a counseling retreat for hurting couples, some of whom are on the brink of divorce, maybe even sign the papers. That's not uncommon, but through the intensive counseling we offer over several days.

You can learn how to love each other again and put God at the center of your marriage.

It happens over and over again and hope restored. Did you know we have a 99% satisfaction rating from the couples who go through. Hope restored. That's a great affirmation about the service they provide. Even better, over 80% of those couples. Two years later are still married and doing better so contact us today to learn more are asked to speak with one of our Christian counselors. We are here to help you and your spouse to not only survive but to thrive. Marriage number is 880 family find a wealth of resources for husbands and wives will have all the details and coming up next time you hear from Becky Kaminski who offers encouragement to parents. Mom Thaler and dad failed. We've got to remind our children that they are left because the last thing I want is for my kids to think that God's love for them is dependent on their performance. Half of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back once more help and your family thrive when a woman discovers her husband struggled with pornography. She needs a practical plan. The latest book from Focus on the Family aftershock but professional counselor Joanne Conti will help you through the seven steps of self-care and to learn how to deal with the emotions involved in the discovery of your husband's addiction doing Connie's timeless wisdom. If you hope, even while you're in your whole season of aftershock. Learn more about aftershock@focusonthefamily.com/store


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