Blended Families: Part 2
Blending two families has its challenges but the love and opportunities can far outweigh the struggles of adjusting to the blend! Here is Part 2 of our blog on Blended Families. If you missed Part 1, read it here.
Sonja and Kevin are a part of our church as well and they answered questions to share their wisdom and expertise from their blended family. See Sonja’s amazing words she shared below.
How did you set up house? Our family is set up where my ex and I don't interfere with how the other runs their home, but we do communicate quite a bit about decisions for my son. For example, day to day activities in my home and rewards and consequences for all our children are between my husband and I including when my son is in my home. If decisions for my son involve school, medical, activities or any long term consequences that need to be carried through at my ex’s home, that's when having an open line of communication and good cooperation is handy. We set ourselves up for success by making sure our son is with each of us for a 50/50 split both financially and time wise. No animosity, and we regularly reinforce the importance of having a good relationship with all of his parents.
How did you deal with the ex? For us, having a good relationship with my ex means I can communicate with him on a regular, healthy basis and we can make good decisions together for our son. It also means my ex and I can still parent our son together, not create a combative environment between us that my son can be hurt from or be taken advantage of. We can really let our son grow up without being in the middle of an unhealthy relationship.
What steps did you take to blend your divided family? I think the most important step in blending your family is being able to really put the past behind you. No matter what happened in your previous marriage, you have to forgive and open communication back up with your ex. Otherwise you're just dragging the past into your new marriage including old wounds and hurt feelings. That affects not only you and your child(ren), but also your relationship with your new spouse. It also is how I can show respect for my current spouse and our family, and give us the best chance to a happier future. It's so cliché, but you really need to let go and move forward. It's harder to do than it is to say, but it is definitely worth it.
What worked? Good communication, a healthy working relationship, and playing off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It's amazing how God brings certain people into your life just when you need them. For example, I've always found it so interesting how much my husband and son have in common. They both really love everything math, science, and abstract to the point that we had to make a rule of no math at the table during dinner. Otherwise, we'd never get done eating. It's something they bond over. Meanwhile, my ex and my son love computer games. That's their thing. The other thing that's worked well for us is really thinking about how everyone feels. While keeping my husband’s and son’s feelings about certain situations for my son comes naturally, I continuously try to remember how my ex would feel and respect that as well. Especially when I'm having conversations with my son. While we have a strong family, I want to make sure he also has a strong relationship with his dad. I try to remember when I'm talking to him that he is part of his dad, and how I would feel if the tables were turned and he were talking about me. Lastly, be flexible. If you have a custody agreement, make sure it's in the best interest for your child(ren) and not because it's what you wanted. Be flexible if a day here and there needs to be swapped to accommodate emergency, vacation, or work schedules. You never know when you are going to need to swap as well. Give and take fairly, and remember to put your child(ren)'s best interest in the middle of you and your ex’s relationship instead of past feelings.