The divorce rate for second marriages is higher than for first marriages – some sixty percent of second marriages end in divorce. When I think about the challenges of blending not just two adults but two sets of children, it doesn’t surprise me.
My current guest, Missy got remarried recently. Her second husband has two teenage daughters so together they have five children. Missy says there have certainly been bumps but so far the challenges have been less than she expected. Here’s Missy:
It was about a year and a half before we got engaged and then almost two years to when we actually married.
My first marriage didn’t make me say, “Never again.”
Probably a great portion of that is because of my faith. Again, I go back to my personality. I do want to be with someone. I want to do life with someone and because of my faith and my scriptural belief that you don’t engage in sexual things outside of marriage, marriage is a key factor in my wanting to do life with someone.
I can see why people are hesitant.
For me to be able to fully trust I would’ve needed marriage because that is a full-on commitment in my viewpoint. I wouldn’t have wanted to try it out with somebody. I’m kind of an all-or-nothing girl and there’s benefits to that and there’s struggles because of it, but that’s what I would’ve needed to be able to fully allow someone to know me.
I needed to know that they were all in.
Truthfully, we are never without at least some children. But that’s OK because we are parents and that’s a large part of our identity. It just is the way things are going to be for this season of life.
His girls are high school age, so they can stay home alone. We can go out and leave them for the evening or they can go to a football game by themselves. They’re not in the young elementary hands-on parenting the same way that my children are. It does help us get some time alone.
When we actually married, we were sitting here evaluating our living arrangements. One of our key things is we wanted his girls to be able to retain their own individual bedrooms. Little things like that. Keep continuity, to make sure that they had a safe place to be themselves and to feel stability in there home.
I moved into his home. There were four of us and three of them and we overpowered them, pretty much.
I knew we would end up taking over their space. I have boys. Little boys are loud and rowdy and just generally more active than girls. I knew the girls would need a space that was still theirs and that they could get to have their sibling relationship still remain.
It was very important to us to keep their rooms intact and not change that, even though from a practical and financial perspective one of the easiest things would have been, “Oh, let’s have the girls share a room and then we’ll have more space to fill everybody in.”
It’s not been simple by any means.
We’ve been very deliberate and we have sought advice from others and we’ve done a lot of reading. There’s a program called Smart Stepfamilies. It talks about a lot of aspects of blended families and so we’ve done a lot of their reading.
Once our marriage actually took place, I had anticipated a pretty rocky road.
I knew we wouldn’t have this grandiose honeymoon euphoria, because again, we have little children and teenagers and all of this dumping into the same home and school starting all at once pretty much.
There is a lot of openness.
Even when his girls especially, have things to say—they step on my toes and I could get very hurt if I chose to. We’ve said, “I’m naturally going to be defensive for my children and you’re naturally going to be defensive for yours and we’re just going to have to accept that recognize it and then make the most logical decisions that we can without basing it totally on those emotional responses.”
Since we’ve gotten married, his girls have responded extremely well to the structure of family that I bring to their home.
My husband’s a man, which is not a bad thing, but they’ll wait until 8:00 p.m. and he’ll be like, “Alright, what are we going to have for dinner,” whereas I already have a plan and dinner’s going to be served at a certain time and that’s predictable. They have a sense of security and family that they didn’t have before we married. They’ve really responded quite well to that. We didn’t plan that. It just naturally has happened and I think they like that. They like that sense of predictability.
I think just because I’ve kept my expectations fairly low and we did do a lot of thinking and talking about how things would go, I’ve been remarkably surprised—pleasantly so. It hasn’t been as challenging as I expected. I keep waiting for, “We could have a blow-up tonight.” I think it’s gone about as smooth as it could have.
The Divorce Coach Says
Missy clearly puts a lot of thought and deliberation into doing what’s right for her family. I particularly like how she and her husband consider the psychological impact of their decisions on their children and how this outweighs the financial considerations. I know that isn’t always possible but making decisions solely for financial reasons is often not good judgment.
I think the key here is being realistic and being open. In any relationship it’s important to be able to talk about the behaviors or incidents that are bothering you and the sooner the better. I don’t mean every little thing – there has to be some give and take but things that become patterns need to be aired. This is definitely one of my top ten values … probably because I did so poorly with it first time around.
What are some of your top values?
This is the last post in Missy’s series and I want to thank her for sharing her journey, for being open about her first husband’s infidelity and her struggle in deciding to end the marriage.
Missy blogs at Far From Flawless where she writes about leading a Christian life with a blended family hoping that sharing her journey will empower others to shun the mask of imperfection and open themselves to authentic living.