Blended families are unique–and no family is a copycat of another. Each one is made up of people with different backgrounds, personalities, struggles, past influences, and experiences. When blended, this group creates its own unique design and dynamic unlike any other. We receive many emails and messages on social media from people beginning to blend. They ask the same question: How do we create and maintain a healthy, loving, blended family?
Blended Families & Prior Relationships
We could write an entire book on the best and worst ways to go about blending, some from our own experience! If we could offer a Cliff Notes version of the most important priorities to keep when you are beginning to blend a family, it would be these:
Be prayerful about the process.
Scripture reminds us, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). Partnering with heaven on behalf of your family and future spouse is by far the most important thing you can do when you are beginning to blend. Cover yourself and your family with God’s Word, pray for protection and softened hearts during the process, and be open to how the Holy Spirit will move within your family. Be obedient to the Spirit’s leadership.
Be patient in the process.
Blending your family can be an exciting time and overflowing with strong emotions and desires for a new beginning and a positive future. During this process, we would like to encourage you to take time to really get to know your future spouse. Don’t get in a rush to tie the knot. Find out about their children, their extended family, their past relationships (including an ex-spouse), and any co-parenting issues or financial obligations (like child support or personal debt), to name a few topics. And be open and honest with your future spouse about these things in your life. You and your future spouse must talk openly and work through these issues together for the health of your future marriage and family. Take the time to create a solid base to build the relationship.
Also, I’d like you to please stay patient in developing connections with those who will be a part of the new blended family. This will take time. Children and other family members may be hesitant to the process, and they may push back. Ephesians 4;2 tells believers to treat others “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” It is with patience and love that your beginning-to-blend journey will develop strong roots.
Don’t force relationships.
You may feel a sense of urgency to blend quickly when things seem to be going well in the beginning. However, good relationships don’t flourish under this kind of pressure. You can be intentional about spending time with each other, but it is important to allow everyone to get to know each other naturally. Children spell love T-I-M-E, so invest a lot of it into these relationships, and you will reap the benefits. Healthy stepparent and stepchild relationships are not built overnight, and it will take a while to cultivate trust and unity in the blending process.
Seek wise, biblical, and professional counseling.
We always encourage couples counseling before you get married and family counseling when you start blending. A lot happens in the minds and hearts of our kiddos when two families merge, not to mention spouses who are learning to love and steward their stepchildren while maintaining a healthy, godly marriage. Throw in ex-spouses and co-parenting; you never know what is around the corner! Beginning to blend is a lot for anyone to process. Having a safe place where you can express your thoughts and feelings and where you can receive encouragement and support, will only benefit you as you develop a new family culture together.
Let go of unrealistic expectations.
Learn this motto: Expectation is the thief of joy. When you come into a blending situation with the hope that your family will unite like the ones in the movies and TV shows, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment and putting a lot of unfair pressure on everyone around you. Celebrate the good moments when they come along (and they will). Thank God for them. When tough situations surface (and they will), ask God to help you walk through them well. Watch for God’s movement in the everyday moments (and He is) and cooperate with Him.
Maintain healthy and intentional communication.
Intentional, open, and honest communication is vital to the health of your marriage and blended family. It is a lifeline to the relationships you are forging. When you are beginning to blend, make sure you set aside time to meet with your spouse, children, and stepchildren to discuss any needs, desires, or concerns. These family meetings are common in blended families, and they are a habit we recommend (depending on the age of the children). However, we highly encourage spouses to have daily and weekly check-in times to discuss highs and lows, family issues, and their relationships. Also, you will need to talk with your co-parent about scheduling. Keeping a current calendar is a huge task for blended families, especially when co-parents are involved. You can use an online service or an app if necessary to help things run smoothly.
These are just a few things you can do as you blend into your new family. Remember, no family is the same, and what works for another blended family may not necessarily work well for yours. Continue to spend time in God’s Word and allow it to light the path ahead (Psalm 119:105). Be prayerful, stay patient, seek counsel, find a strong community of like-minded couples and families, and focus on healthy communication as a pillar in your relationships. Creating a blended family can be a beautiful and wonderful experience–especially when we do it God’s way.