Friday, December 4, 2015

You’re Not Alone

I don’t know if the whole blended family thing blindsided me, or if gushy love elbowed rational thought from my brain before I got hitched. It took about six months for reality to set in after the wedding, and that’s about when I realized being in a blended family is much trickier than I could have ever expected.

It was about that same time that others began to share their horror stories with us. A missionary eating dinner at our house said that he was in a blended family with slew of stepsiblings, until their fighting got so bad that the parents divorced—not the parents’ fighting, but the kids’! A sister I visit taught delayed her third marriage until her youngest had graduated from high school, just because she wanted that relationship to have a better shot than her second marriage, because of all the stepkid problems. And I could go on and on.

When my husband and I went to our first therapist for help
successfully blending our family, she lamented us coming to see her after the wedding instead of before. She implied that maybe she could have helped us see just what we were up against, weighing the pros and the cons before committing to such a heinous journey together.  Okay, so those weren’t her exact words, but we left her office feeling pretty deflated (and didn’t return, mind you).

Our second therapist has been more helpful, although she did say a blended family was just as happenstance as the odd-numbered players selected for one team of dodge ball.  Could there be a more unromantic description of a family?

Regardless, we powered forward, muddling through for months until an issue with our oldest put us at complete odds with one another. We were fighting like crazy, and even with the help of our therapist, I couldn’t see a way out.

I remembered that two ladies from my previous ward were also in blended families of their own. Surely they would have advice that could help my husband and I make amends and reunite in the blended-family cause.

What I found in the process was not a quick solution to our current battle, but a loving group of women that “got” it. A true support group where I could vent and spew to those who understood our battle better than anyone else, including our therapist.

We understand that there’s not a ton of information out here, especially for LDS families. At least for us, nobody really warned us what we were up against before we took the blended family plunge, and maybe it was because no one in our immediate circle knew either.

So back to my original premise. Blended families are tricky. And each one is snowflake unique, so that makes it difficult to prescribe one remedy for all situations. Some kids are older when a couple remarries, or younger. Some kids are his, some kids are hers, and some kids are theirs (well, they should all be, but that’s another post altogether). Some kids are in the home full-time, others part-time. Some exes live close by, others far away, while others still are not in the picture at all.

There are a kazillion possible blended family combos which means there are least twice as many unique sets of problems and possible solutions. But there are also tons of similarities. So let’s figure it out together. Because sometimes just knowing that other rational people like you are struggling is all it takes to make things feel more doable.

We hope sharing our experiences will do that for you. And if you have a problem that you’d like us to address, feel free to post it in the comments. We’re not experts by any means, but we care and will do our best to share what’s helped us through the good, the bad and the ugly.

Until then, here are some resources that might help you find solutions to your current issues.

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