When you’re all coming from a blended background, becoming a blessed family can be quite a struggle. Personally, Lamar and I began with feeling blessed to desperately trying to save our relationship from totally breaking down. Thanks to God’s blessings and some humility from the both of us, we were able to save our family from ruin. Here’s our little story of family blessing from me to you.
From a Struggling Stepfamily to a Blessed Family
About This Article Series
This article is part of a 3-part series to help and support couples in stepfamilies from the pain and hurt many families face.
- Part 1: [You Are Here] 3 Ways Our Blended Family Went From Broken To Blessed
- Part 2: Discipline In A Blended Family: 5 Things That Kept Us From Divorce
- Part 3: What Every Couple In A Blended Family Should Hear Before It’s Too Late
A Blessed Family Beginning
I literally thought I was living the American dream when I married my husband, Lamar.
We had a whirlwind romance, which involved getting engaged after 11 months of dating, jumping the broom less than a year after that, professing our love to each other in the church at our wedding ceremony, buying a new house and moving my two kids and me to the Washington, D.C. area to live with Lamar in our new home. It seemed like a page out of God’s plan was coming true for us. We were feeling blessed.
Everything was fine and every moment was a blessing, until one day, it wasn’t…at least that is how it felt.
We were literally blindsided by issues — issues that stemmed from coming together as a blended family.
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And to top it off, this was the first marriage for both of us. So, we were also having the same challenges that many newlywed couples have that pertains to communication, roles, responsibilities, and unmet expectations. I know single parents had it rough, but being a new wife while being a mother of two kids and welcoming a man into the family poses its own set of challenges.
Ron Deal, a licensed marriage and family therapist and bestselling author wrote about blended families:
Blinded with a well-intentioned ignorance couples march down the aisle a second or third time, only to discover that the building process is much more difficult than they anticipated- and the rewards are few and far between, especially in the beginning. – Ron Deal
Headed for Divorce
The projected divorce rate for stepfamily couples is roughly 50 to 60 percent (Deal, 2014). With odds like that, it seems as if the deck was stacked against us right from the beginning.
Were we headed for divorce?
Well, if I’m being totally honest with you, then I would have to admit that: yes, we probably were headed for divorce. What seemed to be a relationship born out of God’s blessings had quickly become a test of God’s grace. We only had prayer as a resort.
My husband was frustrated. As a stepparent, Lamar felt like he was being left on the outside. Each child gave him a set of challenges.
I felt helpless. As the biological parent, I felt like it was a tug of war, and I was in the middle. (I’m sure many of you reading this can relate.)
My son was struggling. He was around 13 at the time, and he wanted nothing to do with “blending” and began to act out because of it.
All of this led to more issues in our marriage, and that’s when the arguments started. We clung to God’s judgment and God’s love for patience because there were times we felt our marriage was in its final strands.
I mean, we were supposed to still be blissfully happy newlyweds, but instead, we were acting like we had been unhappily married for years. We were losing sight of the fact that we were still a blessed family because there were so many things that made us believe we weren’t.
But one day, that all changed.
In an Instant
You’re probably thinking, there’s no way your stepfamily went from struggling to striving in an instant.
And you’re right. But, there was one defining moment that turned everything around for us.
One day, we were having another argument over the kids.
You see, we could not see eye-to-eye when it came to discipline. Our styles were very different. I thought Lamar was very strict and focused on too many things. And I’m sure he thought I was not focused on enough. Aside from having a different take on husbandly and wifely duties, we’re also just too different in our approaches as parents.
We were sitting at the dinner table arguing. (And yes, we were arguing in front of the kids. Like I said…we were in a really bad place. Our relationship was becoming a bad one.) We argued until I couldn’t take it anymore, and I ran upstairs and slammed our bedroom door, crying.
But everything turned around when Lamar came upstairs and reassured me that although we didn’t see eye-to-eye that he loved me and was willing to make sure everything worked out.
And on that night in our bedroom, we made a commitment to each other that we would both do what’s best for the family.
Commitment means remaining dedicated to the vows we expressed on our wedding day. Couples then make a decision every day of their life whether or not they will live up to those words. If they choose not to, their stepfamily will not survive the journey. -Ron Deal
And from that moment on, we made a conscious decision to turn things around.
Yes, something so small like just making a decision to work it out—no matter what—literally changed the course of our marriage.
We were on the road to divorce…but we decided to take a detour. Instead, we veered off that track to pursue a better course, where we would work on lifelong happiness TOGETHER.
So after we made the commitment, which changed the direction we were heading, there were three main things we did that actually got us moving in the right direction—toward coming together as a blessed family.
1. We Admitted We Had a Problem
You’ve probably heard this a million times before. The first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have one. Being humble enough to admit that much helped us be open to perceive what little things we could do. It was one of our spiritual blessings at that time.
If you’re anything like Lamar and me, then you went into your marriage with rose-colored glasses on and you were optimistic…oh so optimistic.
We were in love, and we finally had the family we’ve always wanted. And when things started going wrong, we didn’t want to admit to ourselves that we had a problem—much less admit it to someone else outside of the marriage (i.e – family and friends.)
Tip: When you admit you have a problem, then it frees you up to take the next step…and that’s to get help.
2. We Formed a United Front
That’s right. We formed a united front, which meant no more fighting at the dinner table in front of the kids (thank goodness.) We came together on everything, at least everybody else thought we did. And that unity became a lifeline for our family.
Did we always agree on everything? NOPE. We had to learn to compromise. But at the end of the day, we were a team, and we presented ourselves as a team to our family and friends.
And an amazing thing happened when we did that. People stopped trying to test us, including our kids.
Yes…even your own kids will test you if they see an opportunity to.
The first step in fixing a problem, is admitting that you have one.
So all of that bad advice that people tried to give us about our relationship, and those slick comments people try to make about your spouse, and those undermining efforts from the kids who tried to use the weakness in your marriage to pit you against each other STOPPED.
Oh yes. People know…Ronnie and Lamar are ONE—and they are not to be screwed with.
3. We Got Help
We had to get educated and get the tools we needed.
We didn’t come into this marriage knowing how to be married or even having the skills necessary to blend a family. So we decided to get educated through classes, books, conferences, retreats—anything we could get our hands on. And that’s really what it took to turn things around. That’s really what it took to take our marriage from broken to blessed and from struggling to spiritual.
Did you know premarital preparation can reduce the risk of divorce by 30 percent (Stanley, Amato, Johnson & Markman, 2006)?
We didn’t at first, and I wonder how much trouble we could have avoided if this was our very first action after the engagement. But even if you’re already married, seeking help for your family will decrease your chances of divorce. After all, that’s what helped save our marriage.
Don’t forget to ask for God’s help in guiding your family. A family blessing is always a good way to remind everyone in the family of God’s grace. Soon, slowly, you’ll be reminded again that you’re a blessed family.
I have to admit, writing this article was a little hard for me. Looking back at the place we were at and the turmoil we were in was such a dark period in our marriage. And it’s crazy to even think back to that time because we’re somewhere totally different today.
Here’s a simple feature on Lamar and me, and our blessed family, so you can get to know us and our story a little more:
There were times before when we couldn’t stand each other, but now I can say that we are truly feeling blessed to have each other. My husband Lamar is a loving husband and we are truly lucky to have him as a father and role model to our children. We’re not perfect…but we’re truly a blessed family. God’s blessings are truly upon us.
What do you think about our story? What’s your own take-away after reading this entry? Please write your reply in the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 19, 2016. It has been updated for quality and relevancy.