The Blended Tribe

BE GRATEFUL FOR THE CHALLENGE

Challenge

I listened to a great message yesterday. It hit me hard especially after having a very revealing week. We went to our counseling session on Tuesday, and it was a doozy for me. The counselor finally asked me a little about my past marriage, and after explaining it to her, it ended in her telling me some fascinating things about my previous relationship and what I’m suffering with now as a result of it. I’ll share more about this in another post. It hit me pretty hard though, and I’ve kept quiet for a little bit after finding out the information that I did.  Just need some time to reflect and wrap my head around it all.

Fast forward to church yesterday…….we had a guest speaker. He started talking about how the things that are crippling in our lives are in fact the things that we need to be most thankful about. He was basically saying that the people in our lives that have wronged us are the people that we are learning the most from. The most challenging people that we deal with are the people that are helping us grow and learn. My husband and I had to laugh out loud in church because right away we both know who challenges me the most right now and to start looking at this person as a blessing from God, isn’t the most natural thing to do right at the moment, I’m going to try though.

So, thinking about your past, you can probably quickly think about the people in your life that have wronged you, hurt you, challenged you. Instead of wishing you never would’ve come into contact with that person, be grateful that you did. For through that person you were taught something or are being taught something. It’s a complete shift in thinking. I challenge you to try it and see what happens in your life!

♥ 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?!?

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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

 


 

Three Simple Ways To Put Your Spouse First

 

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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.

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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

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!

Meet the Burd Family.

 

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How did you two meet and how long have you been married?
We met at church, and got to know each other better through a small group Bible Study that we both attended.

How long did you date before getting married?
We dated for almost three years before we were married.

How old are each of the children that you brought into the marriage?
When we were married, Kylie was 16, Macie was 14 (Tony’s), Jacob was 8, Korinne was 3 (Sarah’s).

Did you become an instant family?
Yes and no. The kids all knew each other pretty well, and it didn’t take us long to learn how to deal with every person’s personality quirks and such. At the same time, it was a big adjustment to pack six people into one house, especially having 4 kids sharing one bathroom!

What does discipline look like in your home?
We have both handled discipline equally, as immediately and informed as possible. We didn’t have any discipline issues with the two older girls, even through their teenage years. They were only with us every other week, and when we had them, they were very mild-mannered and calm.
With the younger two (Sarah’s), we had started dating when they were 5 years old and 9 months old, so they had pretty much accepted Tony as a father already. This made it much easier for both of us to handle the discipline for them.

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Biggest blessing in having a blended family?
The biggest blessing for us is being able to see how God can make something so amazingly beautiful out of a tragedy like divorce. After almost 10 years of marriage, we definitely feel more like a “real” family now than ever.
Also, it’s so neat to see how our kids have grown to truly appreciate each other as siblings, and as people. We live a state away from Kylie and Macie now, and when Jacob and Korinne are down visiting their dad during their vacations, they always try to find some way to see their sisters. Also, they regularly call and text each other, and usually when Jacob or Korinne need advice, they turn to either Kylie or Macie first. We love that.

The biggest challenge in having a blended family?
Dealing with all the other people in the kids’ lives that try to take on a parenting role, primarily grandparents and biological father and his wife. It seems to be a constant power struggle (especially with grandparents) to reiterate that WE are the parents, and they are not.
Also, there will always be an element of “stepparent” in our lives. There are times where we are reminded that we are not the biological parent of our spouse’s kids, and it’s almost always hurtful.

What does Coparenting look like for you?
It’s VERY different between the two of us. Tony’s ex-wife has always been an excellent coparent. She has the same moral values as we do, and she communicates well regarding the girls.
Sarah’s ex-husband is pretty much the opposite. He avoids all possible contact with her, and will not even communicate back about the children when she has initiated contact. His moral compass is nowhere near the same, to the point that he will not allow the kids to even attend church while they are in his house. He bad-mouths her and Tony, and all of her family, to the kids, as he has for years. Thankfully, we are now a state away and the children only see him on their school breaks (which they dread). When they are there for five weeks in the summer (which Jacob now refuses to stay that long), he will not allow the kids to contact anyone from Sarah’s family, even though they live close to him. It’s pretty much a nightmare.

Any tips you can give other blended families?
Rely on God, instead of people. People will always let you down to some extent, but God never will.
Have a thick skin. Don’t get offended easily. Kids are usually well-meaning, but feelings can easily get hurt unintentionally.

Anything else you want us to know about your family?
If it weren’t for God’s guidance, we wouldn’t be where we are today. He is the One who sustains and calms our chaos.

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Burd Fam-Thanks for sharing your amazing story with us!!  Your family gives all us blended families that are starting out HOPE. Very encouraging!
Much Love,
The Blended Tribe

Holiday Blending

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Tis the season to be jolly right?!? Not for all families! The Holiday’s can be extremely tough on blended families.

Here are some tips to get you through the Holidays:

1) Plan ahead. You know when you do and don’t have your kids. Make sure that you plan the month out and be organized and prepared.

2) Be flexible. Although you need to plan out your month according to your parenting agreement, some things just aren’t going to be at your scheduled time with the kids; this goes both ways. Try to be as flexible as possible with the kid’s other parents without messing up your schedule. Everyone has important activities that they want to do during the Holidays so keep an open mind to that.

3) Have a good attitude. Stay positive and don’t let drama get you down or ruin your mood. Focus on your family and the true meaning of Christmas.

4) Make new traditions. It’s fun to make new traditions that your blended family will come to know and appreciate. Get creative and even if some of the kids “act” like they aren’t into it, they will probably be the first ones asking to do it the next year. At least that’s what usually happens around here. Along with making new traditions make sure you respect any existing traditions that are important to the kids or your spouse.

5) Be sensitive. Realize that the kids have a lot of non-stop activity going on during this time of year. Parent’s trying to cram traditions and activities in half the time with their kids. The kids might be a little worn down and overstimulated. Try to have extra patience and understanding during this time.

 

Blended Family

 

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