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Encouragement for Remarried Couples (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
August 3, 2023 7:05 am

Encouragement for Remarried Couples (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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Hey friends, here are the latest episode of my podcast, Refocus with Jim Daly. Virginia Prodon shares about an assassination plot against her in Romania and sharing Christ with her enemies.

Visit refocuswithjimdaley.com. We pretty much laid it right out at the very beginning because the beginning of the relationship was is trust and honesty. If we can't have that, we had a handshake at our second time out. We said, if we can't have that, nice knowing you.

See ya. Gail Stewart and his wife Brenda were on our broadcast last time sharing about the special challenges that step-families face. We'll continue the discussion on today's episode of Focus on the Family with your host Focus President and author Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller. John, last time we talked to our guests and they pointed out something that is so true, how quick we are to judge other people and that's particularly within the church if they are divorced and remarried. You talk to any of those couples, they feel it and we often don't know the story. We don't know if there was infidelity involved or if their spouse passed away and they remarried but they're trying to recover from whatever it was and find the Lord in that place. We'll continue the discussion today with our guests, Gil and Brenda Stewart who have been married for 20 years.

It's a second marriage for both of them. At this time we'll hear from them about loving the children in a blended family. Remarriage can be hard on the kids and I was a child in a blended family so I know and Gil and Brenda have some great insights into creating connections and working through those difficult transitions. Well together Gil and Brenda have seven children, they have 10 grandchildren. Gil has his master's degree in counseling.

Brenda has a life coaching certification. They've been active for years helping remarried couples and families and we recorded this a while back. We're going to pick up the conversation with some important insights about processing divorce.

Here now Jim Daly with Gil and Brenda Stewart on Focus on the Family. That was very traumatic and you shared very openly about the pain of that and the sorrow of that and Brenda to bring you in right here you mentioned something about the sense of guilt that the sanctity of marriage is so close and just express that to us. Yeah I think as I previously stated just being around friends that friends of ours now that have been married for 30-40 years and knowing that if I was still my first marriage I would be at that point and I grieve the loss of that last marriage not in the sense that I miss my ex-husband because we're different people now but I'm grieving the loss of that I hate to say institution I'm not sure what to call the sanctity of marriage that God ordained that it should be one person the rest of your life because he does not like divorce mainly because of the pain it brings. He knows that that's not best for us so I think at many levels Gil and I do grieve that loss because every time we have a new grandbaby every graduation every wedding any kind of communication celebration with our kids with our family now brings up it's almost like the divorce was this deep wound that's now is kind of scarred over and it doesn't hurt as much but it's still there and every family event it's just brushed. You know last time we talked about it not being the Brady Bunch you know all of us that are in our early 50s or late 40s remember the Brady Bunch we should probably say for those who don't know it was about two families coming together and with three kids on each side had a pretty humorous twist to it all the point of that is there's a lot of pain in blended marriages and you're trying to make the marriage healthy and you've got all these hidden wounds some visible wounds that come out in different ways and you mentioned those triggers last time and how Brenda would trigger you Gil and Gil you would trigger Brenda but now I want to turn it to the kids because the kids and as I mentioned I was one I was a nine-year-old stepchild you have a whole nother element with the children there and you're trying to work things out be on the same page be in love have these feelings of regret remorse guilt all those things that you're alluding to Brenda and yet now we've got these other kids in your case you had seven kids you were dealing with talk about that mix and all the emotions of it and how do you even start to get through it seven children we lovingly refer to as those people those people when are those people leaving what are those people doing where are they coming back those people I mean it's we love them all at that time just for the new listeners what were their ages uh when we first married the oldest was 22 the youngest was 11 okay you know the one thing too about the Brady Bunch that you mentioned if you go back and look at the episodes you'll see that there's a whole bunch of people that were in those episodes they had no exes they had no memory of someone who passed away they never talked about it they just glossed over it however there are those issues those phantoms those things that are connected to for the sake of the children they still have memories and I think that's the place as step parents we have to be super sensitive and give them a place to live as well as to enjoy their parents if they're still living how did you try to bring the family together forced family forced family nights forced family fun especially teenagers well it's rough but you guys have to be as the marriage you have to be on the same page get behind your wall to protect you and you're gonna go for it and do an activity I think one thing we did one time was and everybody was like oh I don't want to do it yeah and girlfriends it's a lot of shoe rentals yeah a lot of eye-ruling from teenagers too but you know what we give them enough notice because they have you know they're busy doing their life okay a week from Saturday put it on your calendar we're gonna do this and you know we laugh about it now forced family fun even a couple Christmases ago somebody said yeah this is a triple f night and they're adults now yeah we were pushing cars out of the snowy road but I think one of my favorite moments of bonding was camping okay especially in the northwest I love the rains there and at the time the kids were all of various ages and we were just like within the first year right and so we went camping and in our family tradition it was you put a tarp over the the campsite my stepson said why in the world are we doing this well at about two o'clock in the morning when it started raining then they understood because their campsite was under cover and so we didn't have them all pile into the tent trailer but you know it's interesting one of the best things you can do to create bonding for teenagers and kids is to create what I would call a faux crisis you know have something break that you really know isn't broken so that everybody will pull together that was helpful flooding is good flooding is good yeah I've never seen flooding is a good thing we were having dinner one night over the dining room table the fixture water was coming down from the ceiling the toilet had malfunctioned and it was leaking through the ceiling yes yes and everybody joined in I mean it was great yeah it was great it was a mess but it was great so when you look back on it was that sufficient those times or did you struggle well there was still a struggle but it was those little intimate moments that they all look back on there was still territorialism between my kids coming and going and you know because I when we first got married we I moved into to Brenda's space you know that was pretty tough and they didn't come to the wedding mine did not know how did that make you feel let me ask Brenda Brenda how did that make you feel I felt terrible for Gil just devastated because my guys were there realizing that all the kids at a certain level were in pain because even though this is new for us we found love again it's another loss for them because they realize now that their bio parents will never get back together it's a final edict yeah and I think a lot of remarried couples gloss over that and they don't realize the impact they're happy so then everyone else should be happy that they don't realize the impact on their kids to be sensitive to where they're at I mean early on we had meetings with each of the kids we'd pull them into our bedroom close the door all sit on the floor so we're all level you know and just basically say hey we just want to check in how's your heart this is a safe place to talk anything that said here stays here we need to speak respectful to each other but how's it going and just give them a place to share and say you know what I'm not happy I miss my old family and for us as the adults can say you know what I miss my old family too but look at the great adventure that's ahead and just give them a place to show them respect to hear their heart how did that come about with your kids Gil I mean if they didn't come to the wedding how old were they at that point your kids the youngest was 10 almost 11 the oldest was 21 22 you know when you ask that question that still hurts I could see that I mean I saw it in your face second how does it the remorse of the first marriage's demise what was supposed to be I think you know that the ideal was gone it was it wasn't coming back and for me to step into a new relationship that was a marriage was the end of everything that they had hoped for you know because those kids still want you to get back together again and so for them not to show up to fill in unsupported in a lot of ways I wasn't abandoning them but I think that they felt that I was what's the beautiful part about the thing as time has gone by is is that one by one as they've seen the love that Brenda and I have for one another and that we didn't just you know shut them out because they didn't come but little by little they've one at a time come back and said we're really sorry dad we should have been there it was a big day for you Gil let me ask this question because there can be a lot of different configurations to this but parents in that spot there's a lot of different ways to handle it it sounds like you allowed them to opt out I don't know what kind of discussion you had with them if it was argumentative or if you accepted it and left it lie so that you could see down the road 13 years later and you've been married 13 years so that they could come back around to you and say you know dad we're sorry yeah what do you do in that moment 13 years ago to make sure you get the right outcome 13 years later a lot of prayer for wisdom daily I think the thing was lots of grace I had a decision to make and that was this is going to be a marriage that's going to be based upon me loving Brenda and loving God but for to love my children and to force them I mean we've talked to a lot of couples around the country who they forced their kids to come to that wedding whether they wanted to or not and it has backfired on them so I think the God-given wisdom in that moment was is even with my two youngest they were really close to coming to the wedding but at the last minute they opted out and I knew that there were things going on behind the background that I had no control over so it was like best to just say okay I'm not going to force it you know and I'm not going to you know push you into something that you don't want to but just no even though you're not here I know you still love me and I still love you and that's where we're going to leave it let me ask you this question both of you I mean in that moment your human emotions can be so on fire you're upset you're disrespecting my future wife Brenda you can let your flesh take over I need some advice from you both about how to tap into God's character in that moment so you don't blow it and regret it for the rest of your life I mean how do you really settle your heart down and get aligned with the Lord and say okay Lord this really hurts but I want to trust you for the future and I'm going to calm down I'm going to talk to them respectfully I'm not going to demand them to come I'm not going to order them to come I'm not going to go after my oldest son who probably is influencing my two younger sons how do you find the reserve spiritually to be calm in that moment I'm astounded with that question because simply it was the spirit of God just said I've got you I'm trusting him I've got them I think the thing that really came out of my heart at that point in time was realizing that I had dedicated them to Christ when they were babies and that they would be seen through no matter what if I trusted Christ in them yeah Brenda did your children say how come daddy's kids aren't coming well Gil's kids wouldn't well I don't think they've called I don't know how they refer to they refer as Tim as Gil although I think a couple of them would like to call you did they have questions about it um I think they did and we just I had do you remember Gil well yeah they were they were wondering hey we're we're our soon-to-be step siblings and I think the response was is that they've chosen not to be here and we're going to respect that choice it was all done I think in love and respect for everybody involved because I think our through our whole time as we were early on all of the kids were very respectful to each other and us and there weren't any like flat out mean there are some trips and missteps but not intentional me like you're not my mom you're not my dad we hear that all the time and that's just the hurt coming out you know in anger because these kids are hurting yeah well we're hearing about the messy realities of remarriage and how a step family comes together and uh what an interesting focus on the family broadcast with Gil and Brenda Stewart as our guests and as you two are sharing so vulnerably I'm thinking so what did you expect going in I mean did you have any clue it was going to be this difficult as you as your wedding approached as you started off the new relationship I think we tried to intentionally invest and do as much homework as we could and we actually had to get on a plane and fly to Arizona to hear a step family seminar by Ron Deal because there is just nothing nothing out there so we felt like we had we had a pretty good handle on it but no oh my goodness there were things that blindsided us the territorialism the the nature of you know the circumstances of what the kids brought with them when they came from their you know their other biological parents back to us I mean just the cool down sessions for them the cool down sessions for us the callous that I grew on the bottom of my lip from biting my lip so I wouldn't say the wrong thing I mean there were there was a lot of really angst of how is this going to happen and and it really was tough and we felt that even though we had kind of done our homework and when we do seminars now one of the first questions we ask is you know raise your hand how many of you did your pre how have you had premarital and hardly anybody raises their hand and it's like because it's the second or third time around yeah it's like well we've been married before we know how this goes well how's that working for you you can never get enough information because this is a whole new marriage here and if we're having challenges if I'm having challenges in this new relationship it's because I'm the common denominator so what's in me that needs to adjust let me bring us back to the kids again because I think it's so important for those that are in this situation they've remarried to get practical with the children and what's happening you mentioned one thing Brenda about bringing the kids into the bedroom was it one at a time and just talking with them what are some other things that help let some of the pressure out and Gil you know your kids were the older kids so they were more cognitive of what was going on maybe they even had greater I don't know disappointments in some ways what did you do to really help them and how are they doing today where's your relationship at with them today well at the time the two oldest ones in the seven of those people were mine and they really didn't want to engage they just like really standoffish so the best thing we could do was have a strong marriage because they were watching us so you think they were saying prove it to me yes absolutely you've already blown oh yeah yeah absolutely we're watching you dad yeah and you know that kind of trickled down to the rest of the children as well but I think the thing that you know Brenda mentioned to having the children in one at a time to talk to them the one piece of advice I would give to the listening audience is be sure you bring in the informant child first because if you bring in the tight-lipped kid first you don't know what's going on amongst the ranks so is that called wisdom no that's just experience okay good so bring bring in the bring in the infirmary the record keeper yeah bring them so another thing that we did and I think it really set the stage because we were dealing with the issues of safety well what about the children between the two of you yeah I mean literally in the marriage we're dealing with the issues of safety and rebuilding trust etc etc because they the children are too so seeing and observing the the territorialism that was there now what does that look like you've referred to that a couple times territorialism depends upon which house you settle in because sometimes you know if I own the house and Brenda moves into my place and the and the kids are familiar with that place then if those biological children are familiar with that that's their home base in my case I moved into Brenda's home and my kids were coming and going into an area that were their step siblings home base so the kids by nature your kids coming in feel like guests yeah for a period of time oh yeah that's why ideally if you can arrange it to to start fresh and buy a new home new you know but you can't always do that financially so we were able to make sure that each kid that was with us had their own room so that was really important if you can do that now it's not always feasible but even if the kids have to share rooms that they have their own special place within that room that is theirs and it's there you know it's protected one of the thing that we did do early on and continued to really strive for was to build safety for the kids and so in essence what we really pointed out one Saturday morning Brenda was gone and I was like okay I'm going to go into this with these teenagers like oh I don't know when I got into it I was looking at these kids like oh boy what have I got myself into but literally I said and I identified who the players were I mean this is obvious to my step sons I'm not your father but I am your mother's husband and to my children I said no Brenda is not your mom but she is my wife and when you come to this home when you walk through that door this is to be a safe zone and that got tested oh I'm sure all the time all the time yeah and so here we are now 13 and a half years later and now the oldest is 36 the youngest is almost 26 and they when they're all together they're respectful of one another you can still see the family units it's still there but when they're together there is truly a respect and a love for one another and a respect and love for us as their parents and or step parent that is the point of rebuilding legacy because nobody wants a divorce but if you go through it then what yeah you have to get back to being busy about rebuilding what God has given you to rebuild with the family and your material unfortunate kind of the the angst of the building of the book was what we're being handed to rebuild our family with is broken and charred and busted and cracked but God can use that too he can redeem anything if you let him yeah you know looking back on it and again we touched on this last time but in your both of your cases it was out of your control it was your spouses that that really made the decision to leave the marriage but people who are in their first marriages can glean a lot from what we've talked about if you are counseling that first married couple and they're struggling and you could talk about the pain of divorce and what it has cost you emotionally certainly the benefit of finding each other and rebuilding is there but what what would you say to that couple that's married for the first time they're at year maybe number 10 or maybe number 20 they've been married 20 years but there's no more spark i think i can find something better out there i'm you're not my one and only i thought you were but you're not that person what would you say to them what was it that drew you together what were the bonds what were the attachments go back and repair those things it may be difficult you may have to dig out the grout so to say that's become moldy and crusty and that's done through acts of forgiveness and that is what really i would say let alone when we do sit with couples like that because we do i typically back up and get out of the way so brenda can hit him with a pink two by four uh she's pretty pretty too much at it so i'm gonna kind of just let you jump in here a little bit because you you say some pretty strong stuff well because this is a hill i die on yeah that's it i just this is ridiculous we're adults sometimes you need to put your big boy pants on and put your big girl pants on and when you have kids it's not just about you it's about your legacy and there are so many resources i mean look at the resources that focus on the family have that you could hundreds of years you could be going through things of resources so you know one thing that people don't realize is that 17 to 25 years of marriage i call is the hotbed that the majority of divorces happen you're usually hitting your 40s the kids are teenagers so they're sucking your brains out that's a good description totally and there's a you know you're re-evaluating your life is this all there is and isn't that just it's a brilliant ploy of the enemy to take you out it's brilliant because your defenses are down and if the enemy can take out one more marriage or family um then he's won so what do you need to do during that time is you've got to um be able to reinvest in each other you know ladies if i had ladies here i'd say how are you being your husband's girlfriend really that could be a convicting question both ways yeah if you don't know ask your husband what would a girl and the biggest question that i would ask anyone is would you come home to you yeah oh that's getting in the deep end but sometimes we have to self-reflect and say you know what it's just not about me it's about he's not my partner he's my spouse and what can i do what do you ask or tell the guys i would love to do a men's retreat sometime sergeant brenda not to beat up the guys not at all but to uplift them and say oh my gosh man you have this incredible calling that god's given you to lead your family how many of you are praying with your wives and i'm not talking about this deep prayer i as a wife when gill and i pray i feel protected i feel cherished i feel wanted um and if even if it's just a simple lord thank you for today okay i gotta jump in guys did you realize that a strong prayer life equates to a strong sex life go find out it's a true it's been statistically intimacy it's built intimacy and if that is the most intimate thing you can do as a husband is to pray with your wife she wants your heart you want other things well let's say you want your heart their heart too you know i'm trying to get a little nitty-gritty here but you're being honest i'm being honest because the perspective is is if you're in a tough spot again counseling basically states this if you're in a tough spot if this is for the long haul if you can make it and invest those even it's really like you're down in the ditches five years give it five years of investing if you're doing okay go to a retreat go go invest because when your defenses are down that's when you can receive when you need that extra help in that mentoring there's mentoring out there but there's so much to be done but you're seeing the five yeah that five-year mark is is that if you're really entering in that that tough spot just think about it if this is going to be for a lifetime five years is nothing those five years may be the time that you're in the trenches but when you come out you've got legacy you've got grandchildren you've got something to pass on to the next generation yeah and your marriage won't look like it used to because it'll be in a better place what an encouraging conversation on focus on the family with gill and branda steward they have so much experience helping blended families ah brenda and gill are so inspiring and they do such great work helping couples and their children which is what it's about how to get them to a better place it's so important to build a healthy relationship with each other for your marriage and for your children marriage reflects god's character and he wants to redeem families that's it and if you're in a good place help us to encourage these folks who may be struggling in a second marriage let's be the community of christ together let's stand with them and strengthen these marriages here at focus on the family we want to help if you're in a marriage that's wobbling a bit call us you're not going to surprise us you're not going to be embarrassed we've heard just about everything and it's okay it's a safe place make a call and set up an appointment with one of our caring christian counselors at 1-800 the letter a and the word family and if you'd like to support this ministry and make those counseling services available to others please make a monthly pledge or a one-time gift of any amount and we'll say thank you by shipping out a copy of gill and brenda's book restored and remarried just donate a gift of any amount and we'll send that book to you you can contribute and request resources and a connection with one of our counselors when you call that number jim gave or stop by the program notes for all the links on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team thanks for listening to focus on the family i'm john fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in christ if the fights with your spouse have become unbearable if you feel like you can't take it anymore there's still hope hope restored marriage intensives have helped thousands of couples like yours our biblically based counseling will help you find the root of your problems and face them together call us at 1-866-875-2915 we'll talk with you pray with you and help you find out which program will work best that's 1-866-875-2915
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-03 08:49:31 / 2023-08-03 09:00:24 / 11

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