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Are You Ready to Remarry? (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
September 13, 2022 6:00 am

Are You Ready to Remarry? (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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September 13, 2022 6:00 am

Ron Deal describes some of the unique challenges that couples experience through remarriage and the formation of a stepfamily. He discusses the importance of drawing a “family map,” to identify the complex web of relationships with kids, stepkids, ex-spouses and their partners, and extended family. (Part 1 of 2)

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Joan Fuller and today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly will be examining life in the stepfamily and specifically what to anticipate. If you plan to marry into. Okay, let's go over the family room and not all are on-call libel that went right there on getting no no that's how my brother-in-law told my sister they were getting a divorce that's out no okay don't worry about it will go over all this again when we visit my dad's family dear John, that sounds really complicated and I wonder, considering remarriage really understand what they're getting into and a first time marriages have their challenges to different expectations, managing conflict, learning how to communicate effectively. Those are all things that married couples struggle with but first step families there's another whole level of complexity factoring in the needs of your kids and step kids adjusting to different rules for different households in a different moment and the list goes on. Today we want to offer encouragement and practical help to couples who are considering remarriage and I'm sure if you're already in the stepfamily. This information will be equally helpful to you and for the greater Christian community. We need to be aware of the unique challenges the stepfamily's are facing. I'm sure many of these families are in your church and in your community and a greater sensitivity to their needs and how we can help them will benefit everyone I know were always critical about you know divorce and that's understandable.

That's right, in the Christian community, but it does happen, it could happen through the death of a spouse or a divorce and remarriage so let's be there for people to pick up the pieces and live their lives closely to the Lord in the future and we have an expert coach with this Ron deals back with us.

He's the founder of smart stepfamily sand directs the blended family outreach of family life ministries around is authored or co-authored more than 12 books and resources, including one title learn more about today. It's called preparing to blend couples guide to becoming a smart stepfamily. Click the show notes for your copy or give us a call 800 the letter a in the word family run. Welcome back to focus guys. It's always good. Hey, you heard that opening that is kind of the description of the very complex web of relationships that typically are created when two different families come together in a remarriage situation. Was it a fair representation. Yes, it actually it is in one of the things that we want pastors who work with couples doing premarital counseling.

For example, and the couples themselves to understand is that you're being born into a complex family situation. Lots of ambiguity in terms of the roles and relationships and the more you know about that stuff. Better you can anticipated the smoother your transition will be the less you know the more you get caught in all the little traps that were talked about a number of those today to help those families do better for their success and no to. I think help the children particularly better understanding apartment there is one thing you recommend as a family map with that crazy matrix.

Do you really have people sit down and map out all his connections and relationships. You know, family therapists abuse what we call the genogram for 70 years it's been something that we used to help people, see their entire family on paper.

I got some friends who went created a digital map that people can go online and do specifically for blended families, How's that for a website address and it's built right into this book preparing to blend because we want people to be able to look down and say okay when I just creating a family with two adults and five kids you brought three I have two we got 5+ the two of us. That's where family of seven. No really is a blended family. There's at least two generations probably three generations, and often not always, but often two households or three households and so you start adding up all of those people and you go from 7 to 20 really fast and the reason you put it down on paper.

In terms of this digital map is for the first time Jim some people going through their premarital prep will see the family they are creating.

This is really what you're trying overwhelming it can be overwhelming. It's eye-opening and here's the thing. I would rather them see it before they start then get completely blindsided by that complexity, and it cause strife and marital problems after the wedding. That's good to get those issues head-on. Yes, the temperaments and the personalities that are to be no confronting use a couple right, you mentioned in the book that it's coming unique with the stepfamily because there there foundation is built out of Lawson. The breakup of previous family because of something.

Like I said it could be death of a spouse or could be something where that first marriage didn't survive and there that adult is remarrying in that context, speak to that idea of being born at a loss how does that impact the relationships of the dynamics of things that will just add to that because we do like to say that blended families are born out of loss and I like to add that there born into ambiguity. Combat is another form of loss.

Ambiguity is okay, what's my role as a stepparent I may not get an idea by Brenda Booker, heard a podcast or something and I got a sense of that but did biological parent also has another idea. There's two definitions of that stepparents role the kids have an idea, your former spouse has an idea. The kids biological parent if you're going to be a stepdad thereby dad he has an idea of what you should do and not do in the role with his kids. Like there's just five or six definitions and so right from the get go. Here's a stepparent trying to figure out what he supposed to do. That's ambiguity and that creates more confusion and arguments and conflict potentially and so there's loss on the front end and now there's a sense of loss of or don't we don't know how to move forward in this new family. All of that gets in the way of bonding. Some people may not realize I was part of a blended family way back when I was eight years old.

My mom had left and divorced my dad and then she remarried about three years later to Hank.

I nicknamed him Hank the pain as he was ex-military guy who literally did Saturday morning white glove inspections in our bedroom and the thing when I look back on it now all these years later I could tell. I knew he loved my mom deeply.

You could see it. Certainly, as she was dying of cancer.

He was overwhelmed with emotion what that would mean for him and for their relationship.

Obviously, and she died when I was nine and in that context I member him in a saying I just didn't sign up for all the kids so I'm out here and he left the day of the funeral. And you know there's certainly bewilderment. With that I ended up in foster care.

But the point what I'm trying to say is that he really did love her didn't really care about us much. I get it, you know that wasn't what he was signing up for. Even though that was part of the deal. But even that the expectation of what the marrying spouse. In my case the mom had what that relationship would look like the kids have some kind expectation was this going to be all over the map in terms of what you get with a step parent and then of course the step parent coming into the family and their expectations.

Jim you are you making a critical point here in and I just can't put words on it because couples and pastors alike have this sense that when they are going to get married that they are just creating couple this, you know, and they fall in love and they love each other. Hank loved your mom. There was something there.

There was substance. I don't get it. Absent that there was something there, and that's what brought them together but the reality is you're not just creating couple this you're trying to create family nests right and and and let me just pause for second and talk about premarital counseling because do you realize we have not done any major overhaul in premarital counseling in 60 years. This book preparing to blend is the first overhaul that says look you're not just trying to equip couples to be married you're trying to help them lead a family and navigate the journey of becoming a family you might have become a couple, but that does not mean that the stepparent you are a good example. Jim that the stepparent is got a great bonded relationship that will last a lifetime with the stepchildren.

That is something that has to develop on its own accord. Over time, often well after the wedding is taken place fact it's 5 to 7 years for average writer and some families can take a little longer depending on the age of the children on the circumstances wrapped around at the point is if you go into it blind thinking only about becoming a stronger couple, then you get blindsided by the family. This factors the complexity and the ambiguity and that's what takes couples downward preventing re-divorce here that at the end of the day is my heart preventing re-divorce and another loss for children in particular you brother me heavy addresses question because it's out there, you know, in the Christian community.

We believe in the permanence of marriage. I bet it's one of the pillars or focus, and we said very boldly.

So some people in the Christian community can be critical that if you're addressing this issue of remarriage and a new blended family and II don't want to be smug with this but some they write us or focus after were going to broadcast together. People write or text us and say you really shouldn't cover that because were about first marriage is keeping those marriages together, but it's kind to me.

It's the analogy of the Lord dealing with the woman caught in adultery not the same kind of sin, but what he said there is going send no more.

And I hear that and what you're explaining there are goal. Once a family is fractured is how do we put it back together and God's design for the future of that family. And it may mean the two people remarried different people write. I'm the biggest advocate in the world for first marriages, lasting because I spent an awful lot of time with people trying to pick up the pieces and find the next level of love and care for their family and for their kids and it's harder, it can be done and again like I said, God's grace is so incredible. Some people second chance is far better than anything they've experienced thus far in their lifetime. Going back to their childhood and in other words, God continues to work in relationships did in spite of who we are. I get to do is read the Old Testament, you'll find out really nobody all those heroes of the faith. Nobody got it right when it came to their family right and all those dynamics are true still today so we want to be truthful about God's intent and we want to go heavy on mercy for those who are in need of repair or redemption. And let's not forget that a lot of people find themselves in blended families because of no sin of their own. Maybe somebody else's sin sometimes and sometimes is due to the death of a spouse at once and it all and yet we just sort of leave them hanging out there with no guidance and help and support for their family. You know, post, being widowed, so we want to cover all of that with a message of yes truth marriage needs to last night tells the right story about God. I appreciate that I just you know those of the comments that are made, under his breath, but it's good to hit it. Just get it out there.

You were trying to help people do the best they can do in the moment therein, and that's where it's at. Be honest if we didn't have a 35, 40% divorce rate in the church wouldn't have to deal with that. So that's a great place to start, which is a lot of the effort. The focus puts forward moving on. You have a story about one step couple you call Aaron and Morgan in the book they had those different expectations of what it would be what was their story well you know what one of the things that we talk about in this book, preparing to blend is anticipating the changes that are to come and managing your expectations about how life is to go after the wedding. Again, if you're thinking, I fell in love with the person that's really all there is. And because you and I are love kids are gonna love that we love each other will sometimes they do and sometimes they donor sometimes they're a little confused by it. Often children experience both things they experience happiness that moms getting married and they like the stepdad and there's something about him that there really drawn to and at the same time it's a little weird about drawing into him when their biological dad is on in it somewhere else and they don't spend as much time with him as they would like to but yet I'm spending more time with my stepdad. It is just sort of a confusing place for kids to be and so this couple in particular started thinking about that. Expect well the expectation below the surface, I should say was that I'm not going to have to change my relationship with my kids once I marry you and I'm really quick to tell people look leave and Cleve applies to blended marriages as well. The unit is leaving father and mother. There has to be a shift in your allegiance such that your leaving. That's a really hard word for people to swallow, leaving your children and I don't mean neglecting. I don't mean you're not abandoning in any sense of that word, just like we don't neglect or leave our parents. It's that emotional process of transitioning allegiance to that primary relationship of husband and wife so that we can lead this family and care for children in the in the process over time, but they didn't anticipate that having a shift and so all of a sudden stepdad in this case comes in and errands like okay hey look I need a little time at the end of the day and Morgan's like now I'm spinning that with my kids. That's what they're used to.

I always spend time with. Wow. You know, it's sort of like that's the reality moment of okay so where is legions and how do we make these subtle little shifts because children are going to be disappointed and a new spouse is going to be disappointed and that biological parent feel stuck between the two of them and their caught like those of the moments of complexity where we try to help people navigate that space and see there's a both and here were gonna move toward your children.

Even as you're moving toward your spouse. Sometimes children have to hear the word I'm sorry not now because I'm gonna spend a little time with my new husband, children have to hear at the same time they need to know they are important and they haven't lost their biological parent in this process so it is a delicate balancing act that when both parent and stepparent when they see the need for that and can work toward that together then we don't have somebody winning and somebody losing that's what were trying to avoid is a natural competition of relationships in a blended family when were everybody's winning. That goes a long way towards preserving the heart and mind of a couple and it's in a child and at the same time moving that whole family system forward towards becoming a family, but that winning has such complexity to it yet and I will talk about that in the second well you're listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly I'm John Fuller and our guest today is Ron Diehl who has captured a lot of his wisdom and experience in this book, preparing to blend the couple's guide to becoming a smart stepfamily.

Click the show notes to get your copy or call us for numbers 800 K and the word family run that dance. If you could call it that it is really complicated because especially for that poor mom. She can be in that position. These are kids.

Yes to her often. This is the number one priority and you've got the guilt of what they've gone through, for whatever reason you fill in the blank but like her heart is right there so she's kind of in protective mode and then new step husband comes into the scene.

He's trying to figure out where do I land in here how to my goodness this upon discussion and all that stuff talk about today and tomorrow but just an idea where it's hard for the mom.

I would say particularly in that in then direction can go both ways, but I think more moms feel guilt yes and their try figure out how to manage all this and then when the husband's a man here, not really making me a priority right now. That's heavy crushing for her. It really is tough because she doesn't she can't win for losing the way it feels to her. It feels like too bad choice and would going all the way back to loss where we started the conversation, she parted her guilt is tied into the loss that their family has gone through that she seen her children have to suffer through whatever that was.

That back story and she wants to help with that. Of course she does. It's not a matter of again. I want to be really clear about this because I don't want to be misunderstood at all. She is going to continue to love and care for her kids and help them through whatever more transitions that blended family is bringing into her children's lives, and at the same time she is going to give priority to that new husband-wife relationship and show her children that her husband really matters. It matters to her matters in her life. They don't have to love him. They get to decide if and when they love him. They do have to be respectful.

She sets him up as a as a parent figure when she insists that from her kids at work with the family. One time where guy said yeah my stepdad came into my life when I was 45. My parents are divorced and stepdad came in and, in any just start saying I love the guys great and we had a good time together is going on.

That's really awesome and then he said butted in respect and I went hello, I can just get whiplash there is not that we're going down this way and then you made a hard left and were going to different direction.

What's that about he goes well. My mom told us she just came to us after she got married and said you know I love him but if he ever does anything that makes me not feel good about our marriage.

I'm going to take you guys will just leave and so is a five-year-old.

He heard the message loud and clear. Mom doesn't respect him. I don't have to either while in that forever changed the stepdad's ability to be a leader. He could be fun and games and we love them for that but he really could not be a parental leader can confront in this child.

I sure always has what we want to avoid the fear of a big consequence right. I assert any kind leader and so when somebody's paralyzed by guilt. They just need to acknowledge that that's what it is put down a piece paper tell a friend. That's what helps you acknowledge it and then you can pull back and you go right how to why in this situation.

Honor my children care for them and honor my spouse. It's really helpful if the stepparent is also willing to see the need for the children to have that reassurance from their biological parent. You're both working in the same direction and that's what helps keep this from becoming something that divides and conquers we just identified a pretty important aspect of conflict, but let's wind the clock back for a minute and let's assume these two people are dating Aaron and Morgan in your example the back of the dating phase.

That's gotta feel awkward already. Yes, because you're in the something that is but I'm not sure, but a lot of couples don't feel the awkwardness yet.

Jim, it's enough part of the problem. That's why I wanted were doing virtual training of pastors and marriage mentors to help them do a better job in pre-stepfamily preparation because it often doesn't show itself until right close to the wedding or after the wedding, when real life sorta kicks in.

A lot of times couples are duped. If I can use that word by that everybody's nice and kind during the dating. Even children are sort of going along with this, but the minute you know we've moved in the house together and now he's telling me I gotta clean my room. I don't really know how I feel about the stepdad being in my life and that changes something emotionally for children so they offered don't see it ahead of time.

We want to try to help them anticipate that with good premarital prep when the question was leading toward how to slow it down if you feel like it's brittle. We don't have the right foundation yet and then go about creating the right foundation will I do think that's part of the process. One of the reasons this book is sort of a do-it-yourself guide for couples but also doubles as a premarital guide for pastors is if in talking about some of these realities couples begin to see that and go wow we were lost we really know what I do think it's a wise thing to just sort of slow down the push towards a wedding, or what have you. Keep working on see if it does if that yellow light doesn't turn green if it turns green.

Keep on doing if that yellow light turns red yet then we really need to slow down. That's early in the relationship, but at least pause until our confidence goes up.

There were to be able to navigate the story run you shared this before but it's a good reminder and a powerful analogy sometimes stepfamily's are called blended families use the title preparing to blend Sadie really don't like that term blended, but what what is what's the problem with the word blend yet blended is the more popular term in the US by way stepfamily still more popular term used around the world blended implies that you're all done you blended you know you put stuff into the mixer and you're gonna make a smoothie it's blended it's done. Actually, it's more like blending like it's a process of developing relationship over time. We talked about how, on average, you know, takes a number of years for most stepfamily's to really integrate well even on the front and I believe we can help speed up the momentum of blending of merging when you get intentional about your relationship. If you're not intentionally just sort of floating into marriage floating into the blended family thing more often than not, couples just find that they end up with lots of questions and no answers well and and not blended, and nonlinear drawstring ingredients sitting in the blender there just as interesting. You often compare the blender to a crockpot in that context of remarriage. Why is that different significant for those that are not familiar with it have written about this prolifically because it's become something that I mean people quote this back to me all the time. Jim they come to me. I got an email just the other day from guys and you know you taught us to think differently about her family and here we are seven years later and I were celebrating all the gains that we might it's not an overnight change to shift to a crockpot mentality but here's the difference were quickly blenders are fast and furious, and there's blades and some is going get hurt. We don't want that for your family. Crockpot's are slow you drop in ingredients and force nothing.

Nothing is forced, it all just sits there until it warms up until those ingredients often and they decide how they're going to share themselves with other ingredients. That is a better process. It's genuine, it's authentic, it's emerging that everyone agrees with because they don't feel violated by the blade, you know, if you will that went when you lead your family into that crockpot process and do so with a great deal of wisdom which you get on the on the end of that is something really good to taste. That's what crockpots produced by the use enough water. If you given enough time. I've tried that crockpot dries out your drop yet let me in here for today were to come back next time and pick up the conversation. Hopefully to give people more tools to do this well, but water at the end here. What are some practical things a step couple can do to help facilitate that effective and healthy merging of the two families. I said a while ago get intentional and again there are lots of tools out there that's what were doing a family blended.

We are given lots of tools in the form of podcasts and videos and online courses in virtual training etc. etc. and when you get wise about what's happening between you and among you with your children, your future stepchildren. Whether you or maybe Artie married you try to make sense of what's going on getting some getting the right answers to your questions and then beginning to walk out that with wisdom. I'm telling you it's a game changer. I am a firm believer blended families can be homes of redemption, but you gotta do it right.

If you get it wrong, it just adds more pain and suffering of his life well is so true and well said.

That's why we're here doing this program and why were covering it with you run because you really are the expert in this area and I'd like to come back next time, pick up the conversation and dig a little deeper on the tools that help stepfamilies did the best job they can possibly do because we should want to see these families succeed, we don't want to see the breakdown of yet another family first families.

If I can call them that are already complex. Then you add on even more difficult is like having two separate households and multiple in-laws. It makes life harder, but not impossible thanks to the generosity of friends like you. We have been able to help over 350,000 couples build stronger marriages over the past 12 months, that's a huge number and I just want to say thank you when you make a monthly pledge to Focus on the Family your helping us educate and equip families and stepfamilies, so please be generous with your support of this family outreach today you and when you give to Focus on the Family whether that's a monthly pledge or one-time gift of any amount will say thank you for being part of the support team by sending Ron's book preparing to blend right out to you will also include a digital download of today's broadcast along with some extra content reaches when you call 800 the letter a in the word family 800-232-6459 or donate generously and get your copy of the book details for initial and if our conversation today is raised any concerns about your family or marriage. I do hope you'll contact us Focus on the Family is here we have a team of really wonderful, caring Christian counselors that can help you really work through pretty much any issue you're dealing just call 800 K word family will continue the conversation with Ron deal tomorrow as we talk about comparing to remarry for now on behalf of FOCUS Pres. Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for listening to Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back once more help you and your family thrive in Christ Focus on the Family.

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