Blended families and a Happy Marriage part 2
Advice from women living in blended families
I wanted a few women who live in blended families to share their story and experiences. Whether your experiences in a blended family are wonderful or challenging or a little bit of both, I think it’s comforting to hear from other mothers that you are not alone. You are doing your best and God knows this. Maybe you’re single and dating, maybe you’re engaged or maybe you’ve been married for some years now, either way, hearing from other women can be resourceful. I questioned three women whose names will stay anonymous. They all have different backgrounds, they all have children with their husbands, and none of their husbands had previous children. It’s pretty amazing to see how much you can relate to each one of them.
If you could go back in time What is something you would tell yourself, before you met your husband?
Don’t waste your time with a man because you want to do “what you think” is best for your children. You will get married one day, it won’t be what you imagined, but it will be magical.
I wanted a man to complete my family. I wanted the perfect family I never had. But it doesn’t work like that. I will never have a normal family, it’s a blended family. My kids didn’t want me to replace their father. I might have desired the support of a husband and that’s okay but I shouldn’t stay in a relationship because I think it’s best for the kids. I thought they needed a man in the house to be their male role model. But this wasn’t true. I would see a family together and wish that was me. I had my beautiful kids but I felt like I needed a man to complete the picture. In reality, my kids would have never accepted another man as a father but they would accept him as my husband. We would never be that picture-perfect family like in Meat the Beavers. But that’s okay. I now understand that a blended family is different, much more complex, but it’s also full of love. Having a blended family is a beautiful blessing. It comes with so much more appreciation because of bad past experiences.
Successful blending depends on forces within AND outside your control. Unfortunately, there is no magic potion, no amount of therapy AND no article on the internet which will make your family blend. I read so much advice about the importance of therapy, and I thought it would be the magic bullet to make all of us a “happy” family. At the end of the day, it didn’t work. I have members of my family that don’t want to blend – it is hard watching those you love prefer to suffer instead of blend together. I kept trying to “fix” the problems, and it took a long time to realize that many of the problems were outside of my control – I had to accept that reality. You will be challenged, knocked down and personally suffer watching two people you love not love each other. Having a strong marriage is critical because you will be tested in ways you never knew possible.
Many aspects of your life will still make you feel like a single parent. My husband is incredibly supportive, but there are aspects of our life that work better if I am the only one in charge (taking to events, activities, sports, medical appointments, helping with homework).
Your ex will play a role in how successful your children blend with their step-parent. My ex hated my husband and did everything he could to sabotage the relationship. He created a situation where the children were forced to choose between the love of their dad and building a relationship with their stepdad. I hope with time my kids will see that this type of choice isn’t necessary. I hope someday they will understand that their stepdad is a kind and caring human, always looking out for their best interest.
Girl if I could go back in time, I never would have gone to that party John was at. I was 16 and a senior in high school he just got out of jail for statutory rape and he was 21. I told my friend Nicole that I had no interest in meeting him, that he was too old for me, what would we have in common. I ended up at the party, he made me laugh and the rest is history. The day I was going to break up with him was the day I found out I was pregnant with Tyler. John and I called our wedding off twice. We broke up twice. I stayed with him thinking it was best to keep my family together. The first time he hit me was when I was 19. He said he would never do it again, it took him a year to do it again. He would hit me, say he wouldn’t do it again, then buy me something hella expensive with my money. You see John is a drunk, drug abuser who cheats on whoever he is with. He beats anyone he’s with. John is a narcissistic person that makes you think you are the problem. When I was in the situation, I was on antidepressants and anxiety medication. I was a raging crazy person to everyone else. When I finally got out of it, I realized it’s not me, it’s him. He had no business being with me. He always drove my car, spent my money and moved into my places. He never provided for our family. I want to make it clear that I don’t live with regrets, I look at them as life lessons, I wouldn’t have my two beautiful babies if it wasn’t for him. I would not be the woman I am today if I didn’t go through those problems. I would tell myself don’t date a grown man that lives with his mom and dad, he has nothing to offer you but a good laugh, keep it pushing.
What is something you would tell yourself in the beginning of your relationship?
I would have forced my kids to spend more time together as a family. My husband didn’t want to force the relationship. But I didn’t want to separate us as a family. I think they should have spent more time together in the beginning because the older the kids get the more resistant they become to accepting a new person in their life. I was trying to balance building a new relationship and work while spending time with my kids. I’m happy I did take the time to build my relationship because I am so grateful to have my amazing husband. but I wish we did more family building. It may have not made a difference. I’ll never know. I think once a child refuses to accept a parent then there is no getting through to them. I think the oldest child is usually the more stubborn one and more likely to refuse the stepfather. Children have an easier time accepting a stepmother. They don’t seem to care who their dad dates. I think kids are more protective of their mothers. I am happy I chose to take the chance to love someone. Now I have a life partner. I could have chosen to not date until my kids moved out but I am happy with my choices. I have a wonderful blended family even if it is complicated.
Your children’s attitudes towards a person may change when they realize you are dating. My oldest had a lot of fun with my husband until the moment she realized we were dating. Perhaps I could have cultivated that “not dating” time more so they could have built a stronger foundation, but I honestly don’t know if that would have helped. I tried to force us to spend family time together for years and that didn’t work.
Caesar is the one who taught my daughter to ride a bicycle. She goes to Caesar about more things than me. Caesar spoils her like she was his own daughter. His family accepts my kids as their own. It’s remarkable and an overwhelming feeling to know that these people accept my kids like they are Caesar’s kids. Because I never thought that could happen. I told Caesar for a year that I came with baggage. I didn’t introduce my kids to other men because I didn’t want them in and out of their life like their father. When Caesar started coming around he would come over for dinner but never spend the night. Until one day my older son told me to let him spend the night. I told Caesar that if you’re going to be here you have to be here all the way. I’m telling you I come with a lot of baggage from being with my ex husband who was an alcoholic and drug addict and cereal cheater.
What is something you would say to someone who is having a difficult time right now?
Hang in there. Give everyone time to adjust to the new family dynamics. You have the ability to get through any challenge. Make your husband your teammate as you navigate through family problems.
It was a big change for my husband to go from a single man to having a wife and children. But life is always full of change. I see them as different chapters in my life. One is not better than the other, just different. I chose to love and commit myself to my husband and now I have a life partner. We get through every family obstacle and become closer as we work together. We never give up on each other. We’re always trying to figure out how to improve ourselves, our relationship, our family, and our lives. I know I can trust him to always be there for me through the thick of it .
You are not alone. The complexities of our families make it hard to explain in casual conversations, but according to the US Census, 16% of children live in stepfamilies. That means in a classroom of 25 children, 4 live in stepfamily households. Just yesterday I found out someone I assumed was living in a nuclear family was a stepparent in a blended family with 50/50 custody. It was messy the way it came out, but there was an immediate connection between us knowing we are living something similar. Never give up hope. Relationships change over time, and I hope that someday my children understand the positive role their stepdad has in their life. How dedicated he is to this family and how he is always looking out for their best interest. He has his flaws like every person, but his heart is always in the right place.
I would tell a mother that’s having a difficult time to reevaluate her situation because life is too short to be unhappy. I enter situations with caution because of my ex… my kids are my world so be careful who you introduce them to.I would also tell them to find themselves first before they start dating again. Go have fun. Create the life you always wanted and the right person will come along when you least expect it! Slowly bring a new person around, after you have known them for over a year. Ask the kids how they truly feel about the person. If my kids didn’t like Caesar, we wouldn’t be together.
Do you have any extra advice for the mamas out here?
You may be flooded with guilt and always wonder if you’re making the right decisions for your children. But guilt is something given to all moms. You are no different. You are not alone. Nobody’s family is perfect and free from problems. Follow your heart.
What advice would anyone want from my experience? Maybe, it is the lessons of NOT blending that will help others feel they aren’t alone.
I went into my blended family naively thinking we would become the articles I read in the Huffington Post: “Co-parenting in harmony”, “Famous parents who prove how beautiful blended families can be.” How wrong I was.
After 4 years of trying to blend, I have to admit, we don’t blend. On good days we cohabitate. On bad days I cry. Our blended family is really two separate families living under one roof – we rarely mix, let alone blend. The fighting is less than it was in the beginning. Perhaps that is because we’ve all recognized that we don’t blend. You won’t see us as a family unit out and about. We don’t do picnics, restaurants or vacations together.
It has taken a long time to accept that creating my vision of my ideal blended family is out of my control. I’ve read books, blogs, and journal articles. I’ve done years of individual and family therapy. I tried taking the advice of others, but nothing has worked. Nothing makes us blend. Members of this family don’t want to blend. They avoid blending. They hate blending. I am trying to accept this.
I have no advice to give someone considering blending families other than letting you know this may be the most difficult road you will take in life. Seeing two people you love NOT love each other is hard, really hard. But like most of life, we learn more from our challenges than our success’. It will make you more open, more compassionate and more understanding. It will test you in ways you have never been tested before. It will cause you to cry, to mourn, but to never give up hope. You will also learn you aren’t alone.
Have good communication and be on the same page when it comes to discipline. My husband and I have amazing communication. I think what helped is we were friends and co-workers for years before we dated so we had a mutual respect for each other.
These women are amazing mothers loving wives. Their experiences are deep and real. There can be gratitude found in each challenge. God has given us a chance to be happy, to have a life partner, to have a teammate through parenthood and life. Our hearts are bigger, our mind is wiser, our willpower is stronger because of the struggles we have been through. I hope you find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
I live in a blended family and I am proud. I love my family for all the imperfections and the heavenly moments.
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