The Blended Tribe

The Reasons Why We See a Marriage Counselor

Do we see a Marriage Counselor? Hell YES, we do!
Why? Well, Why not?!?

Marriage counselor

We started seeing one because we felt it would be beneficial for us to have a non-bias person mediating some of our concerns especially when it comes to the kiddos. We got a referral from somebody we trust and low and behold; she’s a step-mama too!! There are so many positive reasons to go to counseling with your spouse. It will improve relationship satisfaction, and you gain a better understanding of how your spouse feels, it promotes positive ways to resolve conflict, and much more.
With this being both of our second marriage, we have a lot going against us statistically. Neither of us wants to be another statistic when it comes to our marriage and our family. We’re doing everything possible to avoid it from happening again. Hopefully, our determination and love will prevent that from happening a second time, but God only knows that people can drastically change and you have no control over another person thoughts or feelings.
We’re going as a preventative, and so far I think we both are amazed at how much we’ve benefited from it. It’s important to find the right counselor for you and your spouse, so keep looking until you find the right fit. Be selective about who you take advice from; you’re not going to receive marriage advice from somebody who’s been divorced a couple of times and not married, right?!?  Be selective.
If you need a recommendation for counselors in the Five Cities, then hit me up @ brilee4@gmail.com.              ♥ The Blended Tribe

 


 

I ♥ My Tribe

Love my tribe

My life didn’t turn out at all how I expected it, and for that, I am so grateful. I wouldn’t want to do life with anyone else. It’s not always easy, but I love my tribe ♥

 


 

Why We Should Teach Our Kids Manners

Manners
Money can’t buy you these things

From the day my kids started talking I made sure always to have them say please, thank you, eat with their mouth closed, use table manners, these are all the basics that get you through life….right?!? Yeah, not everybody teaches their kids these things.  Basic manners are not something that’s just going to come to your kids, you have to instill it in them and the younger, the better. Honestly, I started teaching them this in the beginning just because that’s the way my parents raised me, and now more and more I hear from people how polite my children are, and I’m so proud when I hear this. I don’t care about having a straight-A kid. A’s do nothing for me, don’t get me wrong, I do expect my kids to get decent grades, but I don’t need honor roll students. I’m proud of my kids when they’ve done something kind for somebody else, or get a good report about something reflecting their character.
It’s never too late to start teaching your kids manners!! If this is something that’s fallen at the waist side for whatever reason, that’s ok, but start TODAY!!

Teach your kid’s table manners: Eating with their mouth closed, not talking when foods in their mouth, not passing gas at the table. I mean this is not crazy stuff right?!?

Teach your kids to say hello when they are out and see somebody they know along with looking people in the eyes when they are talking to them.

Teach your kids ALWAYS to say please, thank you and excuse me.

Teach your little girls to be ladies and your little guy how to be a gentleman.  Chivalry is dead these days.  Teach your sons to be courteous to others.

please and thank you

These are fundamental tools that I believe we should be instilling in our kids from the beginning. It’s not too early, and it’s never too late to start! So start today! It’s sad, but at this time in age teaching your kids these skills will make them stand out from the rest. And if you’re already showing your kids these things, then THANK YOU!! We all appreciate it!

Three Simple Ways To Put Your Spouse First

 

remarried
Jon & I

Who comes first in a blended family? Your spouse always comes first right?! Spouse before kids can get a little tricky after getting remarried. Parents have a lot of guilt when it comes to their kids and having gone through a divorce. For some period after your divorce, it’s just you and your kids; your kids move to your top priority.  You then bring another person into the mix, and sometimes they bring kids with them…..things can get complicated, and the kids that were once number one are supposed to be number two.  Doesn’t seem like an uncomplicated task right? HA!  Children are a temporary assignment, but your spouse is supposed to be with you a lifetime.

spouse first
Spouse is number one

Spouse is number one!
Marriage first has taken some getting used to for us. The first year was a learning period where we were trying to help the kids adjust the best way possible along with us getting used to this new family we created. Going into year two we slowly figured out that to make this entire thing work, Jon and I need to be number one in each other’s lives. Forget the guilt, forget the kids thinking it’s unfair, forget the negative comments from the kids. This thought was a little foreign to both of us, so we started off slowly, and it seems to get better and better each day.

Here’s what we started doing to put our marriage first:

1. Check in with each other before making big decisions when it comes to the kids. Whether it’s my kids or his, we connect first to make sure we’re on the same page or to discuss why we aren’t on the same page.
2. We try to take a walk each evening just the two of us and connect on our day and what’s going on without the nosey kids listening in or interrupting. The kids will ask to go, and we tell them NO!! If we have to do a separate walk with them we will, but they are coming to terms with this is our daily time to connect, and we need that time. Our walk time has been one of the most beneficial things we started doing. Getting the fresh air and getting away for a brief moment, does a world of good for us.
3. Pray together!! If you’re religious, take the time to pray with your spouse. It takes you to a deeper level with your partner and with God, it’s called spiritual intimacy. I can’t stress this enough. We pray every night together and just started praying in the morning as well. It’s awkward at first, but fight through it, it’s so worth it!

Doing little things in your marriage like these will be a good start in putting your spouse first. These tips apply to all married couples, not just remarried couples in a blended family. The best example you can give your kids is showing them a loving, caring, union between you and your spouse. It gives them security, and it shows them the way that they are supposed to treat their partner when they are older and what they should expect in return.
Also, you don’t have to be perfect in front of your kids. You can argue and disagree in front of them, but make sure you are showing them the proper way to handle the situation and that it’s ok to disagree and still love one another, it’s a good thing for them to witness this as well.

♥ The Blended Tribe


**photo credit: www.weddedfilms.com

Meet Mr. & Mrs. P

•How did you two meet and how long have you been married?
We were matched on eharmony but didn’t want to pay so found him on Facebook and became friends. We lived 2 hours apart but had long daily phone conversations and met up about once a week. We started dating in February and married in October. We’ve been married a little over three months.

•How long did you date before getting married?
About eight months but it was more purposeful than dating- it was like premarital counseling that whole time, ha!

•How old are each of the children that you brought into the marriage?
One boy is 3, and one is 8

the boys
The Boys

•Did you become an instant family?
Not really, more like roommates who (mostly) enjoy each other. The boys both started out (when we were dating) really wanting a sibling and after moving in together weren’t as excited. We have to know when and how to give each individual space.

•What does discipline look like in your home?
We try to allow the older to be disciplined mainly by dad in order for him to grow a relationship with stepmom. The younger, not having had a dad around, is disciplined by both to set clear authority guidelines for him as a toddler.

•Biggest blessing in having a blended family?
I think both boys are now able to learn what it’s like to share life with others, versus the kid world revolving around them alone before. We all benefit from learning to appreciate and cooperate with different personalities.

•The biggest challenge in having a blended family?
I think while you need to be building strength and unity as a couple, the needs of the kids often emerge and take center stage. So it’s a balancing act. Making sure the kid’s needs are addressed while also prioritizing the marriage and keeping that bond strong.

•What does Co-parenting look like for you?
In my case, I got sole custody, so I don’t co-parent. In my husband’s case, they share 50/50, and I support that process by providing rides, etc. I’m cooperative and cordial with his ex but leave most of the logistics to him/her.

•Any tips you can give other blended families?
I’d say to take advantage of resources like Weekend to Remember and Family Life Blended and their materials and conferences. We make going to church, family prayer and bible time a unifying experience. And we look for ways to put our marriage first to model for the kids what a healthy one should be. They feel loved and secure when our marriage is important.

Blended Wedding
Blended wedding

•Anything else you want us to know about your family?
We both had to understand and sort through the effects of having past marriages with narcissistic abuse. It impacted everything as far as guilt over divorce, lingering triggers related to anxiety and PTSD, and being able to date someone new in a healthy way. If anyone is trying to understand what happens in a toxic marriage and heal, I recommend The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick and Why Does He Do That? By Lundy Bancroft. If divorcing and dealing with custody with a high conflict individual, I highly recommend the book Splitting on divorcing narcissistic or borderline people, and pretty much any resource by Tina Swithin and One Mom’s Battle. I know for me, I had to come to a full understanding of what my past marriage had broken and warped in me before I could love again. Now I’m passionate about helping others understand abuse, raise healthy children despite it, and avoiding toxic relationships or dealing with disordered individuals the best ways possible. It impacts way more marriages and families than people even know.
I’m so grateful now to know what it is to have an actual partner in life and have this fresh chance to model that cooperation and sacrificial love for our kids.


→ Thank you, Mrs. P. for taking the time to share with us.  Your family is adorable and you are an inspiration, my friend!                                    ♥ The Blended Tribe

New Year, New Menu.

My friend (you know who you are) gave me the idea of sticking to a weekly menu. So, for an entire month, we are going to make the same meal on the designated day each week. For example, every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday, and every Wednesday is pasta night. She was explaining that this will cut out the hassle of menu planning each week and it saves money. We are giving this one a try for these main reasons: I don’t have to figure out a weekly menu and shop for it, the food is the same for the entire month….easy! Also, the kids have been begging us to let them cook more. Cooking this way is the perfect opportunity for them to make a meal four weeks in a row and actually learn how to make the meal instead of cooking it once and forgetting. They should be pros by the fourth time making it.
The kids aren’t thrilled about this idea at all, but I’m excited to give this a try and see how it works for us.

 We’ve been putting them to work!

Here are some photos of them in action

kids in the kitchen
camp cooking

teaching kids to cook

 

WEEK 1 UPDATE: We got through a full week of trying this out, and it was AMAZING!! Takes all the thought out of what’s for dinner tonight and made things ridiculously easy for all of us, now on to week 2.

 

 

Misery Won’t Be Getting My Company!

Not going to bring me down
Dealing with miserable people can be a challenge. They try to bring you down with them. Stay positive, keep your head up and forward on! Know that for somebody to be so angry and hateful towards you, means that they have a whole lot going on internally that will not be fixed until they choose to fix it.
Life is too short to be hating people and holding a grudge towards somebody. I think the most important thing is to communicate. I’ve seen one too many families and friendships destroyed by people being afraid to talk their crap out. The funny thing is, a lot of time what is perceived to have happened or been said, it not at all the case. So friendships and families go on with being broken over lack of communication.

img_0320

Also, know when it’s time to move on…..you’re not going to get along with every person, and that’s ok. Know when to let go, and be at peace that not everybody is going to like you. I’m to the point in my life where I love people, I love my friends, and I love my family. I’m going to move on being happy and being me so if you want to be apart of that then great, and if not, that’s ok too. I’m at peace with it, and I try to not to give a lot of thought into what other people are thinking.

Growing Up Blended.

My adorable friend Natalie grew up in a blended home. I’m always asking her questions and asking her how things worked while she was growing up. I got to sit with her the other day (she’s on bedrest, and I was hiding out from our four kids….mama needed a break) and ask her some questions about growing up blended.

1. How old were you when your parents divorced and how many kids did your parents have together?
They were legally separated when I was three years old and divorced by the time I was four years old.
My parents had three girls together; I was the youngest.

2. When did your parents get remarried?
My dad remarried when I was six years old. He started dating his high school sweetheart shortly after my parents got divorced. My mom didn’t remarry until two years ago, but she did start dating about a year after she and my dad got divorced.

3. How many stepsiblings do you have?
I have two stepsisters from my dad’s marriage that I met when I was 5 and grew up with. I also have two stepsisters from my mom’s marriage, but I’ve only met them a handful of times.

4. Did you all get along in the beginning and do you get along now?
We didn’t always get along while growing up. We fought a lot of the time, especially my two middle sisters because they were closest in age. There were five of us girls all around the same age, and we all have strong personalities. We visited my dad and stepmom’s house every other weekend, and he lived about forty-five minutes away. My Dad and stepmom had more money than my mom did, so we often compared ourselves to our stepsisters. They had a lot more material things than we did, which was frustrating at times. I see now that those things don’t matter. Despite living very different lives at each house, all three of my parents made a huge effort to create a sense of equality for us girls. They took us on a lot of family trips and kept us busy with fun activities. We all get along great now that we are adults and we have wonderful memories from growing up, even though we spent a lot of time arguing.

5. Were your mom and stepmom similar or different in raising you?
They were very different, and I think that I benefited from being raised by completely different people. I have a better appreciation and understanding for different walks of life.

6. What was the hardest thing you dealt with growing up in a blended family?
GUILT! I had a lot of guilt over not being able to make two art projects at school for each house, or only having one parent at my soccer games. I wanted them both there for everything and often blamed myself because I didn’t want it to be awkward for them. My parents never made us feel guilty about them getting a divorce; I brought it upon myself.

7. What are your thoughts on marriage?
I knew that I wanted to get married and start a family young and I continued to pray that God would provide a wonderful man for me. Most of my family thought I was crazy and should focus on my education and future career. When I was 19, God blessed me with my sweet Eric, who is the most selfless, loving person I have ever met. He came from a very stable, different upbringing than mine. We balance each other out really well because of this. We got married when I was 20, and he was 23. Because I experienced how difficult a divorce can be firsthand, I have always been adamant that the man God chooses for me to marry will be the ONE I spend the rest of my life with. We have one beautiful girl and another little lady on the way. I have loved every second of our marriage! Even the hard parts, because they have brought us closer as a couple. It doesn’t hurt that he’s ridiculously good looking 😉

8. The most important advice you can give to blended families?
Keep doing the best job you can. You may not see the fruits of your labor now, but you will when your little ones grow up. Make sure your kids know that they’re not the cause of your divorce. Keep them busy in sports and other activities, so they don’t find themselves involved with the wrong crowd. It’s easier for kids with divorced parent’s to stray because they may not have the supervision that they would if their parents were married.

***Thank you, my dear friend, for taking the time to share your story with us. I know that most people out there are a product of divorce and grow up in a nontraditional way. Seeing Natalie and hearing her story and outlook, is so encouraging to me. Sometimes I do still have guilt for my kids not being raised by both their parents, but Natalie’s story gives me hope and reminds me that everything is going to turn out fine. The kids are going to survive, and God has a plan in it all.

Meet the Criner Family.

Blended Family

1.  How did you two meet and how long have you been married?

We met at our church. He plays the bass on the worship team, and I sing….still do to this day actually.  We’ve been married for five year this last October.

2.  How long did you date before getting married?

We were friends for about a year before we started dating. Then we dated about two years before we got married.

3.  How old are each of your children that you brought into the marriage?

Charlie’s son, Lukas, is 18, and daughter, Ellie, is 15. My daughter, Emily, is 16.

4.  Did you become an instant family?

We are blessed with the fact that our kids have always gotten along really well. It took a little while to find our groove though. Mostly, it was me figuring out how to be a mom alongside a stepmom and how to be a new wife again.

5.  What does discipline look like in your home?

Charlie and I have very different parenting styles, but we both agree that poor behavior starts with bad parenting. Charlie is more passive/easygoing when it comes to chores, follow through, and rules, where I am much more militant with those things. It’s actually good for the kids and us, but it took a long time to find our place.

6.  Biggest blessings in having a blended family?

Definitely the “doing life together” part. I am grateful that Emily now has a sister and a brother to draw on for advice, camaraderie, and support. I think for Lukas and Ellie, having traditions and regular family time with their Dad again, is important.

7.  The biggest challenge in having a blended family?

I think for us, the biggest challenge is having our kids come and go between their parents’ houses. It’s really difficult to maintain consistency when they are only with you half or part of the time, especially if the other household isn’t cooperating or communicating with yours.  The children have to navigate through different sets of rules, expectations, etc. I have also noticed that when my husband’s children are at their mom’s house, his whole demeanor can change. He misses them and even gets slightly depressed. As his wife, this is extremely challenging and can be hard to get used to. We have my daugher more of the time, so I don’t go through these withdrawals as often.

8.  What does co-parenting look like for you?

Co-parenting is an evolving process, as your kids are constantly growing, changing, and maturing. When an issue does arise, I generally bring it to my husband’s attention first, and then we discuss a way to resolve the issue. That doesn’t always work, but that’s where we start.

9.  Any tips you can give other blended families?

The biggest, most important advice I can give other moms/stepmoms is that surrendering your “idea” of what you think a blended family “should” look like is key. For the first three to four years, I was angry and frustrated that my family wasn’t working like I thought it should.  There are so many variables in a family and having expectations that it’s all going to go as planned is setting yourself up for heartache. Second, I would highly recommend linking up with other friends that are doing “blended life” as well.  Drawing on their experiences and just having the support can make a world of difference.  Lastly, don’t lose sight of why you married your spouse. He/or she is your teammate, your ally, your greatest strength. Use each other’s talents and strengths to build your family, and focus less on the areas they lack in or are weaker. Regular/weekly date nights can be a great environment to regroup and get back on the same page. Praying together really unites a couple and helps surrender those things that are out of our control.

 

Criner Fam–Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing your story with us.  

Lots of love you all!

I Still Struggle With This.

The lonely road to dropping the kids off this Christmas morning, it was a ghost town out there.

Dealing with divorce

We had an entire day planned today, but our day didn’t go as planned.

I was going to write another post today and share all of our Christmas pictures from the last few days. We did have a great Christmas this year. That changed quickly though……the one part of the divorce that I will NEVER get used to is having to share my kids during the Holidays. It’s not natural to not share these special days with the ones you love most, and who do you care for more than your children?!? I’m not saying that I don’t want my kids to be with their Dad for Christmas because that’s not it! I just don’t want to be without them! It was a long forty-five-minute drive dropping them off this morning. A little too much time to think. The kids will be with their Dad for a week. I had posted earlier about kids maybe needing time to adjust when getting home after being with their other parents, well I think I need an adjustment period when they are going to be away from me for so long.

Here are the only helpful tips I can give you if you’re going through a similar situation:
1) Give yourself a little time if you need it. Not too much time though. Your kids are alive, and this is your hang up, so you need to quickly move on.
2) After you’re done taking the time you need, keep yourself busy, busy, busy! Hang out with friends, get those extra chores around the house done, go shopping, take that yoga class. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself busy.
3) Stay positive! I was telling Jon that having to split the Holidays will have us ready for sharing Holidays when the kids are grown and they have families of their own. We’re one step ahead.  Try finding the positive in the situation no matter what it is.

That’s all I got….

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