Blended families are a huge part of our world. According to the Census Bureau, by the year 2000 more than 50% of all Americans will be living in some form of step-family relationship (families made up of two adults that have been widowed or divorced, usually having one or more children). Therefore, learning how to successfully blend a family is a must.
Failure to understand the special needs of the blended family, and God’s plan for meeting these needs, invites its demise. According to the Step-family Foundation, 2 out of 3 blended relationships will end in divorce. In order to survive these odds; it is essential for couples to understand the central issues that will help bridge the distance between them and bring harmony that will keep their marriages intact.
Issues for couples to consider
1. Establish biblical priorities. If you are presently in a blended family, establishing biblical priorities is where you must begin. Solomon declares that “Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established” (Prov. 24:3). Therefore, which priorities will help to establish and build up your home?
On the vertical plane, your highest priority must be Christ and your relationship with Him. If He is the Lord of your life and the wisdom of His Word rules in your heart, you can rest in His strength and guidance when the conflicts come. If Christ is not Lord of your life, then you are! And if you will not yield the wheel of control to the Lordship of Christ, then you can’t expect God to steer you through the obstacles ahead for your marriage and family. Can you affirm without hesitation that Christ is Lord of your life? Do your actions demonstrate the truth of your profession?
Jesus spoke directly to this issue when He said to His disciples, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that they could not acknowledge His Lordship without actually obeying Him and doing as He commanded.
Why do I bring up this point? Because the lack of a committed Christian walk is the most fundamental reason a blended family, or any family, self-destructs. You need God’s power and wisdom to have the successful marriage that you desire. My hope is that you will choose this day to make Jesus Lord of your life, and by His wisdom you will build your house by doing what He taught.
As Christ must be the highest priority on the vertical plane, your marriage partner must be the highest priority on the horizontal plane. God declared from the beginning that your spouse must hold the highest position, even above your closest blood relationships: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).
The one flesh relationship must be the most important priority, even above your own natural children. If your spouse believes that he or she has been given a second or third position, and your job, your parents, or your children have the priority, your spouse will feel betrayed. This violation of your marriage vows will naturally place your entire marriage in serious jeopardy.
Therefore, be very careful to keep your priorities in harmony with God’s. These two priorities are the surest foundation upon which to build a secure and lasting relationship. It’s your decision.
2. The humility to bend. One of the great fatal snares I’ve observed in counseling couples from blended families is a proud attitude that is inflexible and set in its way. Many have said to me, “I’ve been married before, and I don’t want to have to make these changes in my lifestyle.” Or, “I’ve always done it this way. Why must I change now?” This unwillingness to give and compromise has destroyed many a second marriage. However, Scripture teaches that when God puts His wisdom in your heart you should be “willing to yield,” not ready to resist (James 3:17). Solomon adds that pride “stirs up strife” (Prov. 28:25). If you find stubbornness and strife in your relationship, ask God to help you humbly bend.
The changes that are necessary to bring harmony in your home will come naturally if you will ask God for this humble heart. Remember that God promises: “The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way” (Ps. 25:9). Therefore, if you want God’s guidance and instruction concerning your marriage, humble yourself before God and your mate. He longs to teach you His ways.
3. Accept each other’s history. Sometimes individuals confess to me privately before getting engaged (and sometimes after the wedding) that they are concerned about their mate’s past. Usually they express fear that the issues that ended their mate’s first marriage will recur. This fear naturally inhibits the companionship and trust needed for a successful marriage.
My response is to question whether or not the biblical priorities previously mentioned are clearly evident in the spouse’s life. Why is this important? Because, if Christ is truly Lord of a person’s life, then all things are possible, and God can change anyone from anything. I remind the fearful partner that after listing some of the worst sins imaginable, Paul the apostle declared concerning the Corinthians, “and such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).
Therefore, the only thing that is relevant concerning a person’s past is what that person has done about it. Has your partner truly repented and received Christ? Does the fruit of his or her life reveal this fact? Has biblical action been taken to resolve all outstanding conflicts with the previous spouse? Has he or she acknowledged personal faults in the previous marriage and made changes that are clearly evident?
If these things have been done, then accept your mate’s history and go forward. Blending a family requires understanding that you can’t go back and change what has been done, you can only change what you do today. Paul said, “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Phil. 3:13). This is extremely good counsel. Go forward!
Click here if you would like to read Nurturing Your Blended Family – Part II
If you would like more information on the marriage ministry of Pastor Steve Carr or his book Married and How To Stay That Way, please visit Covenant Keepers
Excerpt republished with permission from Covenant Keepers by Pastor Steve Carr, Copyright 2013
Featured Image: Production Still of Julia Roberts and Liam Aiken in Stepmom; Courtesy of Columbia Pictures