"I had no idea that marriage in a blended family would be so different than my first marriage. It's just so much more complex. I wish someone would have told me this before we married." -- Janie, Mother of two; stepmother of three
"So many couples in blended families divorce. How can I make sure this marriage is my last?" -- Stepfamily seminar participant, Nebraska
Everyone wants "this marriage" to be their last. They want it to last and to be healthy and strong. But many couples in blended families (also called stepfamilies) know that the odds are against them – very much against them. While the U.S. divorce rate sits around 45 percent, the blended marriage divorce rate is approximately 67 percent (73 percent for third marriages.1
Apparently, "happily ever after" is a little more difficult to achieve in a blended family.
But the good news is that most remarried couples can beat the odds of divorce and build a successful blended family if they know how to overcome the unique barriers to marital intimacy in a blended family and if they understand stepfamily dynamics. In other words, they can beat the odds of divorce if they "get smart."
I'm convinced many blended marriages fall prey to divorce because they get blindsided by the pressures and unforeseen dynamics of stepfamily living. Dating couples, for example, naively assume that their first-marriage taught them everything they need to know to have a happy remarriage, and parents who raised their own children assume they know how to be a stepparent. Generally speaking, neither is the case.
Another common "blindside" occurs when blended marriage couples, who believe that stepfamilies are just like first-families, discover their stepfamily is very different from anything they've ever experienced and realize they don't have the tools to successfully manage their home. Smart blended family couples, however, don't get blindsided. They see it coming. They study the qualities of successful blended families, and they work at their marriage. They overcome well-intended but misguided assumptions with "street smarts," and they – and their children – do just fine.
Did you ever stop to realize that most of the families of the Old Testament were blended families – albeit blended families of a different color (i.e., they resulted from multiple marriages instead of death or divorce)? Blended families were very common in biblical times and are even more so now. Today in America, approximately 33 percent of all weddings form blended families. Blended families are very common, but being a smart blended family is not.
Take the time to invest in your marriage and family. It's our prayer that this series of articles will help you become a smart blended family so you, too, can beat the odds of divorce for His glory.