My wife, and I just celebrated 13 years of marriage. As I look back on that 1st year, I sometimes wonder how we survived the “blender” of bringing 2 separate families together, her 4 and my 2, and still having a house left standing! If you are in the midst of the “blender” or just starting to hit the “on” switch, we found that these 5 keys were essential to our smooth transition.
1. Have a Good Foundation
The best foundation that any marriage, home or family (traditional or blended) can have is the foundation of a strong and active faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us in Psalm 127:1 (NIV), “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” It was our faith, obedience and trust in Jesus integrity that got us through that first year.
2. Be Patient
For my wife, the blending process wasn’t as difficult as she thought it would be and for me, it was much more difficult than I first thought. It all boils down to expectations and patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so to have the expectation that 2 separate families will be harmoniously blended together quickly is a little unrealistic. Dial those expectations down a notch or two and be patient.
3. Make Your Own Traditions
When you try to blend 2 families together with different views and traditions surrounding everything from birthdays to holidays to vacations, well, needless to say the “blender” goes into super high speed! For us, it happened on the first Christmas. Traditions clashed on the kind of tree, what was going on top and who was going to put it on top. That was the start of developing our own traditions. We didn’t throw out old ones; we just made some of our own that reflected the blending of our families.
4. Keep a Sense of Humor
I cannot emphasize this point enough…you have to learn to laugh. There were times when the only thing that kept us sane was being able to laugh. Buying our first “family” vehicle is a case in point. Since there were 8 of us, we needed to find a vehicle that could accommodate us and not break the bank. We decided on a minivan. The dealer couldn’t understand why we didn’t take it for a test drive. I told him that we all fit and that that was the only test drive we needed. To this day, we still laugh about that.
5. Build a Refuge
If you are going to survive the blender, then you have to make your home a refuge. We tried to allow our kids the freedom to voice their anger, their frustrations and their fears. We recognized that this transition was harder on them than on us. We also made family dinner time mandatory. These times of eating, talking, and invariably laughing hilariously became the highlight of our day.
For those who have gone through the “blender”, what things did you find helpful in making the transition successful? We'd love to hear from you.
(Kelvin pastors in Rochester, MI and has a blog at www.afathersheartblog.com)