Your marriage can withstand the powerful winds and storms of difficult relationships and blending a family, even when a stepchild is trying to destroy what you are trying to build.
Relationships in blended families are often like that box of chocolates Tom Hanks references in the Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” Suppose I could speak freely and honestly; blended family relationships, well…you never know what you’ll get. When Scott and I look back on our newlywed years, we say that we were blessed to have unity and excitement within our blended family regarding the relationship between Scott and my son, Michael.
Michael was over the moon, ecstatic about getting a stepfather, and overly excited about having another male in the house (I think) since it had just been the two of us and a hermit crab for the previous five and half years. Michael attached to Scott quickly, and even though Scott had never been married before and did not have children of his own, Scott stepped into parenting very naturally and lovingly.
I understand how blessed we were. I know this isn’t the scenario for many blended families and stepparents proactively working to establish a peaceful relationship with their stepchildren. We always counsel couples and hear from many spouses who encounter one of the most feared situations with stepparents in blended families: the stepchild not wanting their biological parent to be married to the new stepparent.
Priorities in the Blended Family
After the honeymoon phase of our blended family wore off, four years into our marriage, we began to encounter this very situation for an extended season in our blended family. I often heard my son say he wished his father, and I were still married, and I watched how Michael’s resistance played out in his relationship with Scott. He was hurting, I was hurting, and Scott was hurting. Despite all the pain, confusion, and weariness, one thing remained: our strong foundation in Jesus. We were thankful that in pursuing marriage and blending our family, we could lean into our faith and lean on a strong, godly community. Without it, our marriage and family could have derailed quickly.
You may find yourself in this season. You and your stepchild may not see eye to eye, and it may be affecting your marriage negatively. If this sounds like your situation, I want to offer a few things that worked well for us in that challenging time.
We encourage you to practice the 3 P’s:
- Fervently praying over your stepchildren, their hearts, your heart, and your marriage is where you can start to arm yourself against the enemy’s schemes. You can seek to partner with God as He works in and through the hearts of your family and the situation at hand. Make time to pray regularly over your children (step or not) and your marriage, and ask God to align you on how you should approach the stepchild in this season.
- Patience. Demonstrate patience in healing, adjustment, and restoration, and be patient in your relationship with your stepchildren. It can be hard to love someone causing you so much pain; however, your spouse deeply loves those children. It can be easy for a biological parent to defend their child and side with them over the new spouse and marriage, even if the child is causing issues. Couples must become a unified team and approach the situation with grace, mercy, and mutual understanding. We always recommend marriage counseling and/or family counseling if you and your spouse become splintered by children in the middle of your marriage relationship.
- Remaining persistent in pursuing a healthy relationship with your stepchildren, your spouse, and your blended family will produce fruit and blessings in due season. God blesses our obedience to walk in faith with Him as we navigate the hard seasons. If you surrender to Him, he can fortify your marriage and create opportunities in your stepparenting relationships. Don’t allow the enemy’s schemes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) to stop you from pursuing the blessing God has for you.
Maybe you are dealing with a stepchild who wants nothing to do with you. Maybe that child is trying everything to drive a wedge between you and your spouse. It can be draining and discouraging, but you are not alone. Other blended couples have been there. We’ve been there. And most important, God is there. He is Emmanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14). Keep fervently praying, even when it seems to have no effect. Demonstrate patience in this season because that patience “produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:4, ESV). Persistently pursue a healthy relationship with your spouse and stepchildren. Even on the hard days. Even when it hurts. Even when you’d rather quit.
Your marriage can withstand the powerful winds and storms of difficult relationships and blending a family, even when a stepchild is trying to destroy what you are trying to build. With Christ as your foundation, you can rest assured that He will make all things work together for your good and His glory.