Blended Families - Article

Stepfamilies are one of the fastest growing family groups in the United States. The following are just a few common myths about stepfamilies:
by Gil & Brenda Stuart
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1.  Putting unrelated people in the same house will bring them to love and care for one another. Believe it or not, love and care may OR may not develop. Developing love and care for someone is like intimacy. Intimacy develops over a long period of time, it does not happen overnight. The key is to be patient and allow everyone to move at their own pace, not forcing intimacy.

2.  This marriage/family is competing against the legacy of the previous one. This time there are different people involved, different dynamics. Don’t get caught up in the “it used to be this way” mentality, which will just get you in trouble. DON’T COMPARE.  Live in the present and accept your stepfamily for what it is. God calls us to be faithful with what stands directly in front of us.

3.  Everything will fall into place. We want this marriage to have everything in its place as soon as possible so we can all be happy…right?  Do you realize that the average stepfamily takes seven years to integrate according to E. Mavis Hetherington “For Better or for Worse; Divorce Reconsidered. Wow! Some families will “fall into place” faster than others…and yet some may never achieve harmony.

4.  The kids will be happy about the remarriage.  Stepfamilies are born out of loss. The previous marriage may have ended due to the death of a spouse. Children still want their biological parents to remarry or have the deceased parent come back to life.  Both situations have huge emotional consequences. Put yourself in our kid’s shoes.  Don’t under estimate the positive and negative emotions you receive from your kids. They can both happen at the same time!

5. You both learned from past mistakes and won’t make them again. Be open to revisiting past blunders even though you felt you dealt with them. Make sure you haven’t missed anything. Just because you feel you have dealt with it and “put it on the shelf” doesn’t mean you can’t pull it down to look at again. This is a new relationship now and may bring new light to old stuff. 

Stepfamily Stats:

46 of every 100 marriages today is a remarriage for one or both partners.  Of the remarriages, 24 are a remarriage for both persons.  About 65% of remarriages involve children from the prior marriage and, thus, form stepfamilies.  (US. Bureau of Statistics, 1995). 

The divorce rate for remarried and stepfamily couples varies but is at least 60%.  Second marriages (with or without children) have a 60% rate of divorce and 73% of third marriages end in divorce (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006); at least two-thirds of stepfamily couples divorce (Hetherington, For Better for Worse: Divorce Reconsidered, 2002).

An estimated one-third of children will live in a stepparent home before the age of 18 (Parke, 2007) and 50% will have a stepparent at some point in their lifetime.  (Stewart, 2007)

One of three Americans currently has a steprelationship of some kind and it is estimated that 50% will during their lifetime.  (Larson, 1992).

On average, couples in stepfamilies have three times the amount of stress of couples in first marriages during the first few years (see Hetherington, For Better for Worse: Divorce Reconsidered, 2002, p. 165). 

Becoming a stepfamily is an incredible journey.  It is not for the faint hearted.  Is it hard?  Yes.  Can there be joy in the journey? Absolutely. As trust and honesty as your foundation you can begin a healthy new legacy for your stepfamily. Put yourself in your kids shoes, no matter their age and always default to love.

Recommended Resources:
Restored and Remarried:  Founded by Gil and Brenda Stuart, the Restored and Remarried seminar equips re-married couples with the tools they need to blend two families together, restore trust, learn the building blocks of healthy communication, and make their new marriage thrive!

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