We are nearly ten months into this whole blended family thing. Ten months.
Sometimes it feels more like ten years.
Marriage is hard. Second marriages are harder. Blending two families into one peaceful, cohesive whole is incredibly hard. Add a lifetime of painful circumstances hitting you in less than ten months, and it could be a recipe for disaster.
With life happening the way it has in this last year, we’ve had little to no time to focus on our marriage. Every time we begin to breathe, we are hit with something else that just knocks the wind out of us. We long to pause long enough in our day to focus on one another, to just enjoy time alone.
But it rarely happens.
With five kids between us, there’s no honeymoon in a second marriage. Instead, it’s diving head-first into a chaotic world of teenagers and hormones and non-stop activity. It’s trying to steal a few moments of peace and quiet or making time for a true date without kids. (I will say one advantage to having teenagers is that we only need to threaten S-E-X or go to the bedroom and jump on the bed to send the kids running.)
But even when we can steal away for a few moments, the heaviness of life happens. I’ve found myself hiding, living behind walls meant to protect me and keep others out. Oh, I’ve rehearsed the conversations in my mind repeatedly…for months. But, his burdens are so heavy, his grief so overwhelming. The loss of his dad. The pain of his daughter’s situation. I know he is carrying so much in his body and I just don’t want to put any more on him. I want him to open up to me, to share his load and let me be the strong one. And he, on the other hand, is the big, tough war-hardened veteran. His mindset is that of survival, of doing what needs to be done. He hasn’t quite figured out how to let me help carry his load.
Yep. There’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of work still to be done. And there’s still a lot of unknowns, the potential for more hard and painful circumstances to hit us.
As difficult as it is, it is also beautiful. Right now, I sit in our house alone. For an entire week. Why? All three kids are at church camp…and they asked Roy to go as a sponsor. Did they ask me? Nope. I was told they didn’t want me to go so I am going to work while they have fun. I jokingly tell them I feel replaced, but in reality I am incredibly blessed. My kids want to spend time with Roy, and Roy wants to spend time with them. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
We’ve been hit with so much, I’m not sure exactly how to measure the difficulty of blended life vs the difficulty of life in general. Most days are good. But the hard ones are really hard. We simply try to move past the hard days and focus more on the good ones.
So what have we learned?
We are both fiercely loyal to our children. I have spent the last 18 years with my kids. I have spent the last decade fighting for them, protecting them from painful circumstances as much as I can. My life has been about my kids.
Roy has an innate sense of fighting for his kids, too. His daughter cannot fight for herself, will never be independent. He feels responsible to fight for her.
Our loyalty to our children often conflicts with our desire to make our marriage stronger, and we sometimes find ourselves at odds with each other over our children. We are working to find balance, a balance that proves our commitment to one another while still allowing us to fight for our kids in a God-honoring way.
Change does not happen overnight. We have two distinct families. We have two very different pasts. Our children were raised in two drastically different environments.
We are two very different families trying to learn to co-exist.
Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to change each other. I want him to live the way I have become used to. He wants me to parent the way he would. Truth is, it may never happen. Instead, we all have to learn to love and accept each other, differences and all. We need to learn to celebrate our differences and recognize God made us as we are.
There may be areas where we sit and talk together and make decisions about things that need to change for our good, but we must be patient. Very patient. Change takes time. And love. And patience. And understanding. And so much more.
It might be that I am the one needing to change. There are areas of this life that have been very painful. And frightening. Sometimes I want him to change, to see things my way.
But sometimes I have to get alone with God and let Him change my heart. Change the way I see things. Give me a heart of compassion and understanding. Sometimes God is trying to get my attention, get me to be open to changes He wants to make in me.
Living with another human is humbling. I pray God helps me remain sensitive enough to hear His voice as He uses this marriage to make me more like Him.
Old habits die hard. We both have baggage, baggage that came into our marriage from our previous relationships. Yes, we’ve both worked hard to overcome our pasts, the hurts and pains that haunt us.
But sometimes we fall into those old patterns. I’ve found myself hiding from Roy instead of sharing my heart. I know it’s because I’m afraid of the response, I’m afraid of the rage that I lived through in the past.
We find we must work hard to remember who we are now married to, to remember we aren’t married to our former spouses who hurt us so deeply. We must remember we are now married to someone who loves us as Christ loves us, someone who wants the best for us. We must work to release our past once and for all.
Christ must be at the center of our individual lives and our relationship. And this is the most important aspect. My heart is to make God my everything, our everything. With the chaos of our lives this last year, it’s been hard to get on the same page and be intentional in our walks with God and making Him the center of our relationship. But I know we can’t make it without Him.
I have become much more intentional about my prayer life. I have an app on my phone that sends me reminders throughout the day to pray for various family members. I keep a prayer book in my car and try to pray for Roy and the kids every time I get into or out of the car during my day. I’m doing everything I can to draw near to Him so He will draw near to me.
And we are working towards being more intentional as a couple. We both know He is the answer, the One who has the power to glue us together in a way no one and nothing else can. And that’s our sincerest desire.
Lord Jesus, marriage is hard. We’ve been hit with so much during our brief marriage, and we are weary and worn. We want nothing more than you, nothing more than a marriage that reflects your relationship with your Bride. We want a marriage that draws us closer to you and makes us into your image. We want to be humble enough to learn how to make you our number one and each other our number two. Teach us how to do this remarriage thing. Teach us how to love unconditionally. Teach us how to balance our loyalty to our kids with our relationship with each other. Teach us how to be intentional in knowing you and knowing each other. This marriage is yours. Do in us and through us what only you can do. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.