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Valuing a Marriage in a Culture That Doesn't

Air Date 02/04/2019

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Lamar Tyler and his wife, Ronnie, co-founders of the global ministry Black and Married With Kids, discuss the importance of promoting a positive, Biblical view of marriage and family, both in the African-American community and the culture at large.

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

Excerpt:

Ronnie Tyler: When I was engaged and leading up to the marriage, I never once thought, “Hey, I’m gonna be in a blended family. This is gonna be a stepfamily.” Those words didn’t even come into my thoughts. I just - and I didn’t prepare myself for the situation. I didn’t prepare for myself for Lamar being the stepdad. Like, it just - it all totally just kind of blindsided me.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Ronnie Tyler, and she and husband, Lamar, have overcome many obstacles. And in many ways, they’ve beaten the odds as a married couple. They’re our guests today on Focus on the Family, and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, marriage is wonderful. It certainly should be that way - God-honoring. And it’s the institution He created for us to love and live together in. But it’s so sad to see it devalued in the culture - sometimes by circumstances, sometimes by choice. But we’re hearing that more and more millennials, uh, for example, are choosing to stay single far longer and not get married, in large part because of what they’ve seen their parents go through. Um, so it gives them a bit of pause for how to move forward.

Think of this one, also, “The Graying of Divorce.” I’ve mentioned that on the broadcast a few times. But it was a Wall Street Journal article a while back that talked about the fastest-growing segment of divorce is the 50-somethings because their kids grow up; they move out of the house, and everybody - mom and dad, husband and wife no longer know each other, and they don’t want to stay together. So we want to kind of redirect that, certainly be real and talk about the things that happen in families like divorce. It does happen. This isn’t a guilt trip. But let’s talk about the biblical application, how we have better marriages, what we can do in blended family to bring two different families together and how we get through that.

John: And we have some guests along with us today to help us unpack this and address this. Uh, they are Lamar and Ronnie Tyler. Uh, they’re the co-founders of a ministry called Black and Married with Kids. It’s the largest independent, uh, African-American marriage and parenting site on the web that I’m aware of. And they also make documentary films. And, uh, they are passionate about displaying, uh, some of the things you talked about there, Jim - the value, the power and - and the beauty of a godly marriage.

Jim: You know, I’ve never, uh, put this together. But let me quote King David in the Psalms, who wrote, “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” I like that. And today, we’re gonna hear their story. Uh, Lamar and Ronnie, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Body:

Lamar Tyler: Thank you.

Ronnie: Thank you.

Jim: We eventually got to you.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: But, you know, we like to do that setup to kind of set the stage, the table, uh, for folks as they’re listening to say, “Okay. What are we going to talk about today?” Let’s get into it. When you decided to get married, your friends and family - I think they rolled their eyes and said, “No, you guys got to think about it.” Why would your friends and family members say that to you?

Lamar: Well, I think it just hits right on what you were speaking about a minute ago. We meet, and we’ve seen our own lives - so many people that have negative viewpoints of marriage because of what they’ve seen around them. And they’ve seen, uh, broken marriages. They’ve seen broken families. They themselves may have been through divorce. And a lot of times, they like to project that same type of feeling on to newer couples. We’ll come into the room and say, “Hey. We’re getting married.” And they’ll say, “Well, hold on just a second. Don’t make the same mistake we made.”

Jim: Right.

Lamar: Or “We don’t want to see you go down the same path that I went through.” And they’re projecting some of their own things onto you. So that’s really one of the reasons we wanted to start this site. We even just started having this kind of conversation between ourselves to say that we have to really be able to celebrate couples that want to get married, that want to go on to the covenant of marriage and not just celebrate the fact that they want to get married but then once they get married, really wrap our arms around ‘em, love on ‘em and then support them.

Jim: Hey, Lamar, you and I have similar backgrounds in that we - we come from broken homes. And, uh - and you have a background of divorce with your parents, I believe. Is that right?

Lamar: Yes - correct.

Jim: How did that impact you? Share that - a bit of that story with us.

Lamar: You know, for me, it was very hurtful as a child. And it was something I had to really learn to release and just - was just - was blessed with just forgiveness in a lot of ways, to now, I don’t harbor a lot of pain and hurt. And for me, what it looked like - you know, I knew who my father was. He was always around. He’s a police officer, you know, in the local area.

Jim: Okay. So he was regimented. I mean...

Lamar: Yeah, exactly. You know...

Jim: Rule-follower.

Lamar: Yeah - Vietnam veteran and...

Jim: Wow.

Lamar: ...Went to the police force and worked the police force from the time he got out of the Marine Corps until he retired - so, you know, upstanding...

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: ...Citizen and everything. But he remarried and had two daughters of his own. And I think as he just kind of grew that family, the kind of communication - and I think that’s something that, once families separate, the people forget that, hey, keeping that communication’s not necessarily an easy thing, but it’s a necessary thing.

John: How old were you, Lamar, when your parents divorced?

Lamar: I think I was about 3 years old. So I never really remember...

John: It’s kind of the norm for you then.

Lamar: I don’t really have memories of him really being in the home because I was too young. All my memories are from him early on.

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: ...When he would come pick us up on the weekends and spend time and take us to Virginia Beach to go fishing and things like that. But as I got older and his family started to grow, um, that communication kind of lessened. I remember - what I do remember is my 11th birthday, I believe. It was the first time I didn’t get a call on my birthday. And that hurt and that pain and...

Jim: Feeling forgotten.

Lamar: Yeah - feeling forgotten - I think that definitely was it. And it probably wasn’t until I was late in my teens, maybe - maybe 17, 18, or maybe even early 20s. But I remember having a conversation with my brother. I’m the youngest of three. And I remember having a conversation with, uh, the middle brother, the one right above me. And somehow we started talking about my father. And he talked about the fact that he didn’t kind of harbor ill will towards him. He had to just let it go...

Jim: Uh-huh.

Lamar: ...And how, you know, harboring that ill will wasn’t allowing him to live his best life right and allowing him to do better. And it really just kind of sparked something inside of me that eventually I was able to kind of let it go. And now when I see him, you know, I’m excited to see him. Not too long ago, um, you know, um, I actually was out of town. Ronnie and I were out of town. But my mother had taken the girls from Atlanta, where we live at now back up to the D.C. area. And she connected with him. So I - my daughters could see him and spend some time with him.

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: But in a lot of ways, I figured he just does the best that he can do, right? Um...

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: You know, I pray for him, and I...

Jim: It’s a forgiving heart, but all of that had to shape, you know, your 20-somethings. I mean, you’re thinking, “Will I get married? Should I get married?” - That fear factor that you talk about. And what was that like when Ronnie caught your eye, and you’re thinking, “Okay, maybe this is a girl I could marry?” Did you fear the idea of marriage?

Lamar: I didn’t fear the idea of marriage. I always felt like I wanted to be married. And I don’t know...

Jim: So you had confidence about it...

Lamar: Yeah. I had confidence.

Jim: ...That you could do it better than what you saw your dad do?

Lamar: Yeah. Part of that may have been - because I saw my grandparents married. So even though my father wasn’t...

Jim: Okay.

Lamar: ...There, I always talk about the fact that the patriarch of my family was my grandfather.

Jim: So you had that stable model?

Lamar: So I had that. Yeah. And everything I modeled from what to be a man I modeled from, you know, Maurice Adams, Sr. because I saw him being a man with my family. I saw him being a financial support. I saw him being, uh, a financial leader, a spiritual leader. I saw that when - in our church, he was the chairman of the deacon board and, uh, when they were in the transition between pastors, he kind of ran everything in the church and was a pillar in the community. So he was the person I always wanted to grow up to be.

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: And when he passed away, I remember, um, you know, at his funeral just thinking like, “This is the kind of life I want to live” - a life of honor, a life where other people respect you for what you’ve done. So I never had really concerns about marriage. Probably more so - and I’m sure we’ll get into this. But when I got married, I had a lot more concerns about getting divorced than I did actually about getting married. And a lot of that came up later through blended family issues, other marital kind of issues. And I just always would think, “Are these the things that lead to divorce?” - Because that’s what I didn’t know. You see people get divorced, but you never really know what that path is that takes them there.

Jim: Yeah - the why.

Lamar: It’s just - you know, you think they’re the perfect couple. Then all of sudden, one day, you hear that they’re separated.

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: Or you see online they’re not living together and that the kids here and the - you know, and the kids are there another weekend, but you never know what kind of leads to it.

Jim: Yeah, and the need to work on it. That’s what we’re here talking about today. This is why we wanted you here and your experience. Ronnie, let me turn to you because I think you represent so much of the modern era - if I could say it that way - where you made some decisions. Describe those for us. I think when you were 19 - having your first child - take us through those 20-something years and describe for us what you were living.

Ronnie: Um, so yeah, I did. I had my first child at 19. And I still - you know, we didn’t get married. I was in college. I was an undergrad. Um, and I - I stayed - it was not a good relationship, but I stayed with that person the entire time, through my entire 20s.

Jim: What were you - if I can ask - I mean, to help some woman that might be in that same spot right now, what were you thinking? What were you counting on? What did you think that relationship would blossom into?

Ronnie: You know, I - I felt like I was just really immature. I wasn’t listening. All of the signs said, “This is not a good relationship,” you know? This - this...

Jim: Yeah. I mean, you’re smart. You’re in college.

Ronnie: I’m in college.

Jim: Yeah.

Ronnie: I did undergrad. I had a full scholarship. I did graduate school. I had a full scholarship - engineering. I’m in college. I’m on this path. And I was actually in a relationship with someone that had dropped out of high school, you know, just - just doing, you know, odds and ends - and all of the things that my parents said, “Hey, look out for.”

Jim: Right.

Ronnie: And I just kept - I was, like, really being proud. And, um, if they were to come and they were to say, “Hey, Ronnie, like, look; this is not good. This is not the person” - “You just don’t like him,” you know, like...

Jim: Right - all the defenses.

Ronnie: All the defensiveness. So when my parents came around, putting up this air of, like, “We have this great relationship” - but when they were gone, you know, we were breaking up a lot. I wasn’t really necessarily happy. But when they came around, “Our problems are between us.” I’m just not letting them on - letting on. And that went on for a while until I was on - in my late 20s. And what happened is I got pregnant again. So I had two children with the same person. I was in this relationship. I had also convinced myself that marriage didn’t matter. I literally convinced myself. So...

Jim: That it was just a piece of paper.

Ronnie: I did.

Jim: Yeah.

Ronnie: I did. I said, “Oh, a wedding’s not important.” That’s not what I saw because my parents were married, um, and because I lowered my expectations based off of my relationship, and I see some people saying that. And I always question women - “I don’t like marriage. I don’t like this” - and I always ask them why. I said, “I convinced myself that marriage didn’t matter when I was in a bad relationship because I didn’t want to marry that person.” As soon as I got out of that relationship, I remember making that decision, when I had, um, my second child, to say, “I - I need to choose me.” And I - I always - even though I had bad relationship decisions, I always stayed on the straight and narrow. I graduated college with honors. I worked. I bought a house. I always, like, took care of my business. But I decided, “I’m gonna put my house for - up for sale.” And I did as soon I had that baby. And I put my stuff in storage. And I went and moved with my mom - moved in with my parents because I could work from home. And I just had to make a break.

Jim: What - was it to find a - a safe place, a better place, um...?

Ronnie: I needed to be around my family.

Jim: Wow. That’s a good decision.

Ronnie: And I needed to get out of the relationship. It was not a good relationship. And I needed to be around positive people and to just have that support of my family. And I remember just, like, getting back into my childhood church. I worked in the nursery. I just, like, kind of, like, worked on myself and my relationship with God and just, like, got back to, like, the values that I had growing up.

Jim: And - and going back to that second child, I believe you mentioned to our producer, um, that you said, “This is not the father I want for my children.”

Ronnie: Right.

Jim: Is that fair?

Ronnie: Um, it wasn’t the situation. I just felt like that was the catalyst for me to leave because I felt like, at that point, my first child was almost 9 years old. And I was just like - I could make it. He was older. I was working. I wasn’t happy or whatever. But now I was throwing another child into the situation. And I said, “I cannot balance a bad relationship. I feel like I have three kids now,” not two but three with the father. And I just made a decision for myself. And I always tell women sometimes that sometimes you have to let go and take a step back in order to go forward. And I give people that - there’s no shame - if I had to quit my job, I would have quit my job because I am so further now. When I took a step back, people - “Oh, you put your stuff on the market, and you went and live with your mom with two kids?” But sometimes you do. You have to take a step back in order to go forward and release. I released everything. He owed me money. Every - I released it all. I didn’t try to get any of it. And I just said, “Let me focus on Ronnie and getting healthy and just getting back to my values.”

Jim: Wow.

Ronnie: And that’s how I was able to get out of it.

John: Ronnie Tyler is our guest on Focus on the Family. She and her husband Lamar have started a ministry called Black and Married with Kids. Check it out, and learn more about them at our website, and get a download or CD of our conversation at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast - or call 1-800 - the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Let’s move into the marriage and the blended family situation...

Lamar: Sure.

Jim: ...Because I think there’s so much good to, uh, learn from your experiences there. So you have the two children. You get married. I believe your youngest, your daughter...

Ronnie: Mmhmm.

Jim: ...Uh, really started calling you daddy at 2 years old. And - and there was no problem. But your older son - 9 at the time, or 11...

Ronnie: Mmhmm.

Jim: ...Ish.

Ronnie: Just about 11.

Lamar: Eleven...

Jim: About 11.

Lamar: ...By the time we got married.

Jim: A little more difficulty there. And again, your story is, in part, everybody’s story. So that’s why I appreciate you sharing this. But there was some more difficulty there, right?

Lamar: Yeah, it definitely was more difficulty. And I think a lot of for him was, you know, “Okay, here’s this new man coming into the - coming into the family, and he’s, you know, telling me what to do and how to do it and all these type of things like that.” And I think at the same time, you know, he was going through preteen...

Jim: Oh, yeah.

Lamar: ...Teenager time...

Jim: Who is this guy?

Lamar: ...Which is - which is - with the biological dad, he probably was still saying, “Hey, this guy here trying to tell me what to do.”

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: “He shouldn’t be telling me what to do.” So...

Jim: Well, in fact, friends of his even - kids - were telling him, “You don’t need to listen to...”

Lamar: Exactly.

Jim: “...This dad because he’s not your real dad.”

Lamar: Exactly. And we saw a lot of that. And...

Jim: How did you address that with him? Did you ever have a chance to sit and talk with him about that?

Lamar: You know, I did. Looking back at it, definitely some things I wish I would have done differently because I think, probably like a lot of men do - right? - The bravado and the macho...

Jim: Right.

Lamar: Because, you know, my stance was more so that, “Okay, I don’t have to be your dad, but I still demand respect.”

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: And it was more almost like - like that military type of thing of, like, “Okay, you don’t have to call me dad, you don’t have to love me like a dad. But you do have to respect me.” And while I still did demand respect, I still wished there would have been some other things I could have done to show him love in different ways.

Jim: Well, to earn the respect.

Lamar: Exactly.

Jim: I hear what you’re saying exactly. But that’s so good. How about you, as mom, watching this - you have to have a bit of anxiety about how my kids are gonna relate to...

John: Yeah.

Jim: ...Lamar, my husband now, their father.

Ronnie: I mean, to say the least. Um, but when we were - when I was engaged and leading up to the marriage, I never once thought, “Hey, I’m gonna be in a blended family. This is gonna be a stepfamily.” Those words didn’t even come into my thoughts. I just - and I didn’t prepare myself for the situation. I didn’t prepare for myself for Lamar being the stepdad. Like, it all totally just kind of blindsided me. I did not talk to my son. I did not ask him how he would feel about the situation or reassure him. I just thought, “This is a good guy. This is good for us,” pushed right on through. So that’s the first thing.

Jim: Going back, would you - you would have done that differently...

Ronnie: I would have.

Jim: ...To engage your older - your son?

Ronnie: I would have. I probably - because I know this - like, hindsight is, of course, 20/20. But I would have actually researched, you know, blended families and stepfamilies just to prepare myself. And also, it’s comforting in knowing, “Hey, you’re going to experience these challenges. It’s not unique. And you’re gonna make it through. You know, and here are some things that you can do.” Um, if I had known that, things would have been better, so - and I would have talked to my son and just trying to find out how he was feeling about it. Um, because they’re kids. And they’re immature. And he may have had all these thoughts through his head. And I wasn’t there to counter them, to reassure him, to tell him, “No, it’s not like this, it’s really like this. And this is what our intentions are.” Because I didn’t talk to him about it, other people were talking to him, or he kind of came up on his own decisions. So I can’t blame him all the way for acting out because I just didn’t talk to him about it at all.

Jim: Well, there’s no guarantee that even if you did it perfectly...

John: Yeah.

Ronnie: Right.

Jim: ...That it would have been...

Ronnie: Yeah, there’s no...

Jim: ...The outcome you wanted.

Ronnie: Right.

Jim: Because, you know, God creates us with free will.

Ronnie: Yeah.

Jim: So you could - I just want to release you from a little guilt there because sometimes - I mean, I was that stepson. I had that stepdad myself, and I - I was 9 years old. I wasn’t too kind to him, and he wasn’t too kind to me.

Ronnie: Right.

Jim: And that’s just the way we settled into our relationship. But - but I don’t know that even if he sat me down and said, “Jimmy, you know, here’s the way it is,” I don’t know that that would have changed my perception because I’m immature at that time. I’ve got a lot of wounds and a lot of hurts. “You’re not my father.” So I - you know, I...

Ronnie: Yeah.

Jim: ...Know you might want to do it differently.

Ronnie: Yeah, of course. So then, of course, it’s still - he’s gonna act the way he wants. I mean, look at me. I did what I wanted to do, even though my parents tried...

(CROSSTALK)

Ronnie: I definitely realized that. But to answer your question, it tore me up...

Jim: Yeah.

Ronnie: ...To see the conflict in my family. And I had a lot of different emotions from, “Why aren’t my kids acting right?” My son - you know, because he was definitely disrespectful.

Jim: Yeah.

Ronnie: At the same time thinking, “Okay, I don’t necessarily like the way Lamar spoke to him. I don’t necessarily...”

Jim: Or the way...

Ronnie: “...Like...”

Jim: ...He disciplined the kids.

Ronnie: “...Or the way he disciplined,” or, “I’m not used to having someone else step up and want to discipline my children.” And I didn’t know I would have those feelings at first. So there was a lot going on...

Jim: And the key question is...

Ronnie: ...At one time.

Jim: ...What’d you do?

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: I mean, how did you guys resolve that? That’s classic...

Ronnie: Right.

Jim: ...Even in first-time married parenting.

Lamar: Mmhmm.

Ronnie: Exactly.

Jim: And this is classic stuff...

Lamar: And...

Jim: ...Where - wow.

John: Well, you’ve had disagreements?

(LAUGHTER)

Lamar: And I think that part right there is so important because in blended families, it’s not that it’s different issues going on. The issues are just greatly compounded.

Jim: Wow, that’s a good way to look at it.

Lamar: You know, like - like - like, teens, um, if I can say, they are crazy.

(LAUGHTER)

Lamar: Um, but it doesn’t matter what family it’s in.

Jim: Right.

Lamar: But in a blended family, it’s just different, compounded. So even...

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: ...When we - you mentioned discipline a while ago.

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: Like, I’m much more of a disciplinarian than Ronnie.

Jim: Well, you’re coming from a police-military dad...

Lamar: Right.

Jim: I know what you’re talking...

John: That’s right.

Jim: ...About.

(LAUGHTER)

Lamar: So - so I’m much more of a disciplinarian than Ronnie may be. And we’ve talked to a lot of couples that are in just a biological nuclear family, and that’s an issue - one of the - the husband or the wife is more, you know, into discipline than other person is. So with us, it just was compounded because when Ronnie would see me react to the kids, she would always talk about - and I could tell the - some - verbally - she would even say sometimes, “That’s just because you don’t have any kids,” right - or “You’re treating my kids this way.” When I’m thinking in my head, “No, I would probably treat my kids even sterner.”

Jim: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

Ronnie: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Ronnie: We found that out.

Lamar: And it wasn’t until we - it wasn’t until we had children together she actually saw...

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: “...Okay, this is just the way he is. It’s not ‘he’s being mean to my children.’“

Jim: Right.

Lamar: But she didn’t have anything to actually reflect that upon.

Jim: That’s really interesting. So I’m not letting you off the hook, Ronnie. So how did you - feeling like you’re caught in the middle, how did you get resolution?

John: Yeah.

Ronnie: Um, it took some time because, uh, we didn’t handle things, necessarily, the right way initially because we didn’t know. We didn’t - we weren’t educated, and we didn’t know. Some of it was just inside. And it - it would just come out as frustrations. A lot of times, we’d, you know, talk to each other, you know, behind closed doors, not necessarily, um, in front of the kids. Like, “You know, I didn’t like the way you dealt with this with the kids,” or “I didn’t like the way you talked to my son.” Um...

Jim: Ooh.

Ronnie: And so...

Jim: (Laughter).

Ronnie: ...Yeah, those are some of the things that, um, I would - I would say.

Jim: And, you know, these are good things. These are practical things. This truly is - if you’re a parent, you can relate to what we’re talking about.

John: Yeah.

Ronnie: Mmhmm.

Jim: I mean, that is the bottom line. Let me turn a little bit of a corner here. And it’s great what you’re doing. I applaud you - how you’re living your life openly for others to see and the ministry that you have. I just keep thinking inside, Ronnie, how proud your mom and dad must be...

(LAUGHTER)

...Of knowing you from, you know, the point that they had you all through your 20s and now looking at you and Lamar and just going, “All right, Lord, thanks for answering all those prayers.” But, um, what can people do, uh, to help support the blended family? You know, if you’re speaking to Jean and me, we got married at 25, we’re still married, and we have two boys. But for people that we know at our church that might be in a blended family situation, is there any instruction or advice you’d have for us?

Lamar: Yeah, just a few things. And the first is to just have a space - open communication - a form of something where those families can come together. One of the things that Ronnie and I learned once we actually started sharing our story and talking to other people was that all blended families go through pretty much the same type of stuff.

Jim: Right.

Lamar: But we never knew that because we never talked to anyone else about what was going on.

Jim: Interesting.

Lamar: And it wasn’t until we started writing about it, we did a documentary about it, things like that, where we actually opened up the conversation. And then people would say, “Well, you know, my stepson did this, or my stepdaughter did this,” or “Hey, you know, my spouse treats the step kids this way, and this is how I feel about it.” And we say, “Hey, we’ve gone through that same stuff.” And we’ve been in a room with, you know, 10-15 other couples, and all the stories - you know, the - like, the intricacies of what happened may have changed, but the arc of the storyline is pretty much the same most of the time. So these couples need to know that “I’m not alone. I’m not going through something alone.” I think we isolate ourselves, just like with anything else, right?

Jim: Well, particularly in the church.

Lamar: Exactly. Exactly.

Jim: Because we’re - it’s awkward. You know, we don’t know the reasons that people divorce and remarry. It could be the death of a spouse. It could be they didn’t get along, and they divorced. And, you know, we fumble with that - how to...

Lamar: And...

Jim: ...How to be a friend in that situation.

Lamar: And for the churches, you know, it’s important for the churches to realize these people are sitting in your pews. So you can pretend. And you can act like it doesn’t exist, but these people are sitting in your pews. They’re hurting, and they need help.

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: And if we want to lower the divorce rate in the church, this is one of the things we specifically need to focus on - is the fact that these blended families, um, need help. And a lot of times they need help, and they may need resources that are specifically tailored towards...

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: ...Blended families. Because a lot of times, if they just act out, you know, uh, basic marriage general advice of where you should do this with the kids, you should do that with the kids, it may have compounding repercussions...

Jim: Yeah.

Lamar: ...And things that actually happen back.

Jim: Ronnie, uh, you mentioned something to me before we went to air here, and I want to come back to it because I think it was powerful, and I think it is instructional for all of us. When we talk in the church about marriage, we talk about the right way to do it, doing it in the right way. You get married, then you have children. That’s the formula for success. Statistics show that. That’s the right way to go. But that language that we use can be very off-putting to people who blew it - um, kind of where you were at when you were 19 - had a child out of wedlock. What instruction do you have for us as Christians to not look so highly upon ourselves - that we’re doing it all right and you, the sinner, you’re doing it all wrong?

Ronnie: Right. You know, you definitely can acknowledge, “Yes, you know, I had a child out of wedlock, and now I have these kids. Now I have a blended family.” But I feel like sometimes people get stuck on, “You didn’t do it the right way.” Well, I’m here now. And I am...

Jim: Yeah.

Ronnie: ...Trying to do it the right...

Jim: Right.

Ronnie: ...Way.

Jim: Here we go.

Ronnie: And I’m married to Lamar, and I feel proud of my family now. And, you know, and I want people to know, “Yeah, I’m not ashamed, I have a blended family. There are some things that I’ve gone through in my journey. But I’m here now.” And I just think that people need to be conscious of just the way that they’re talking to...

Jim: Yeah.

Ronnie: ...The families and also that they’re not recognizing that there is - everything is not a remarriage situation or that, um, you know, that a person’s spouse died. But there are some people that had children out of wedlock, and they’re in this room. And you’re not acknowledging all of the situations as you’re teaching about blended families. You’re just talking about remarriage. And you’re just talking about, like, maybe somebody’s a widow or something like that. But just go ahead and acknowledge all of the situations. But then also acknowledge the beauty of what’s happening right now - that they have come into the covenant of marriage and that they want to stay in it and that they’re here because they want to do it right this time...

Jim: Right.

Ronnie: ...Around.

Closing:

Jim: This has been so good. I appreciate your vulnerability and, uh, you know, your instruction for both intact married, first-time families and the raising of kids and how this applies, along with the blended family. And maybe that 20-something or 30-something that the light has not gone on yet, uh, man, this is for you. Hearing Ronnie’s story and Lamar’s story, I hope it, uh, ministers to you. We have great counselors here at Focus on the Family, and they are ready to talk to you. If you need help, man, that’s why we - that’s our mission. That’s why we’re here. So take advantage of it. Supporters have allowed us, through their faithful and regular giving, to be able to staff the counseling department with 20 or so counselors who can, um, help you through this moment. And then they also have the ability to refer you, uh, to a counselor in your area.

In addition to that, we have our Hope Restored intensive marriage program with about an 80 percent post-two-year success rate. And this is mostly for people who are on the brink of divorce. They’re ready to give up. They’ve only had the two options, like, either do this unhappily, or let’s get divorced. There is a third way. Let’s live it happily. And they will teach couples how to do that better. And I’m telling you, um, it is worth the investment in your marriage to go and do that. And, uh, we hope you’ll take advantage of it.

John: Yeah, find out more about Hope Restored, uh, schedule a consult over the phone with one of our counselors. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY - 800-232-6459 - or online, you’ll find the help you need at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: And John, it is truly our monthly supporters that make ministries like Hope Restored and everything else we’re doing here at Focus possible. And I want to invite you to join the team and become a monthly supporter. Or if that’s not doable in your budget right now, even a one-time gift helps so much. It’s the fuel that drives the engine. Either way, if you can give, I want to send you a complimentary copy of a marriage documentary Lamar and Ronnie have made, called, Blended: The Unspoken Truth About Stepfamilies. It will help you in your journey. 

John: Oh, it really will. It is realistic but very positive in portraying the display of grace that God has for you and your family. Donate and find out more at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Join us next time as we hear from the son of a tragedy-stricken but wealthy family, explaining his desperate search for meaning.

Teaser:

Adolph Coors IV: How much money does it take for you and me to be happy? Just one more dollar. Just one more dollar.

End of Teaser

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More Episode Resources

Guest

Lamar and Ronnie Tyler

View Bio
Lamar Tyler and his wife, Ronnie, are the founders of BlackandMarriedWithKids.com, the largest independent African-American marriage and parenting website on the Internet. The site has attracted more than 6 million readers and has been featured in major media outlets including The Washington Post, Ebony Magazine, and Essence Magazine. What started as a small, personal blog has become an international brand under the Tyler New Media umbrella that boasts four independently-produced films and a social media presence that includes over 500,000 Facebook fans. Along with writing for and managing the Black and Married With Kids website, running Tyler New Media, and producing and directing films, Ronnie and Lamar travel across the country screening Tyler New Media's films and speaking on marriage and parenting-related topics. Lamar and Ronnie reside in Atlanta and have four children.