A Covenant is a promise and it is something that you enter into willingly. Certain terms are agreed upon to include future events that could occur. Vows are made until death do us part, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, in richer or in poorer. Now in the old days, tribes would make covenants with each other in order to help defend one another from other warring tribes. If one tribe entered into a covenant with another tribe, they would do for that tribe what they would do for their own family. They would even fight to the death to honor their covenant with that other tribe. The marriage is your only relationship with a covenant. You entered into it freely (or at least I hope you did). And it’s meant to last until one of you dies. So it has got to become the number one relationship in the family. Now this may sound selfish or very foreign to those of us with kids, but if the marriage doesn’t survive and thrive, the family won’t prosper. The family is made up of the very kids we want to see do well. Statistics show that children who come from a two parent home, do better than their peers who come from one parent homes. Not that the one parent homes are doing a bad job, it’s just a very hard job to do by yourself. And children feel whole and normal when they have a mom and a dad in the home. They feel more secure. Plus, kids need healthy role models. They need to be taught that marriage is good, that it can last for a lifetime and that it can be very rewarding. If all they ever see is divorce, they will have a very low regard for marriage and may feel they don’t ever want to get married because it doesn’t work anyway.
Remarried’s with children have a high divorce rate of about 67%. The children have already had their original home and birth parents divorce, so if we can make the re-marriage thrive, won’t the children do better as well? So how do we do this?
First, the marriage needs to be worked at. It won’t just happen. Life gets so busy: the kids, work, ministry, church, friends, etc. The marriage can become the last thing you attend to. But in truth, it needs to be high on the list of priorities. Take time to make time for each other. Do the things you did at first. Go on dates, make time for just the two of you. Reminisce about where you’ve come from and where you would like to go as a couple and a family. My husband and I always tried to have a “date night” once a week (didn’t always happen but if it’s not a goal, it will happen less often). And we would plan for and look forward to our getaway weekends for just the two of us. Our family was difficult with yours, mine, ours and theirs, so making time to enjoy each other had to be a priority or we would not have made it. Without a vision, the people (or family) perish.
Second, support each other in your new roles. Becoming a step dad or mom is not easy. Come alongside of your spouse as they develop a relationship with your child. Help them to become successful in their new role. And show the kids that your new spouse is here to stay. This will help the kids to better accept them if they believe your relationship will last. Let the kids know that you expect them to honor your spouse and treat them with respect. This not only supports your mate in their role but it teaches children that those in authority are to be respected; they don’t get to cop an attitude or disrespect their elder, if they do, their birth parent will deal with them. The birth parent should teach their child to respect their new stepparent as they would a teacher or a coach, they are expected to follow the rules even if you are not around.
Third, don’t let anyone come in between you and your spouse. The kids may feel it is their duty to tear you two apart. Oh, my goodness, my son did, he was not happy at all about our marriage and for many years tried everything he could think of to separate us. But now, years later and now that he is a grown up, he is so thankful for his step dad. They are good buds and my husband has taught my boy how to be a man. I could not have taught him that because I don’t know how to be a man. My son is very thankful that we were committed to our marriage and made it work. He has benefited greatly from our commitment to each other and our marriage covenant.
But I must say, at times I wondered if it would be better if I left my husband for the sake of my son. My husband did not abuse my son; they just did not get along for some years. As a side note, if my husband had abused my son in any way, it would have been my moral obligation and duty to protect my son. But that’s a discussion for another time. Had I left my husband because my son wanted me to, my son surely would not be the man that he is today. His step dad taught him work ethic, honor, how to treat a woman, truth and integrity. My son is so thankful for his step dad now and happy that I have a lifelong partner who treats me well. Children grow up and mature and they understand things they didn’t understand when they were small.
So be committed to your marriage covenant, find ways to make it work. You and your children will prosper because of your choice.
Making the covenant work is a choice and unless there is abuse, addiction or adultery (the 3 A’s) your making it work will usually benefit everyone in the family.
Fourth, if you need help, by all means get it. Being in a step family is not easy. If you are having difficulty communicating, go to someone who can mediate so you can get things out in the open. If you are struggling with the same issue over and over, why not get help?
We all need help at times. Go to someone who understands and can help you as your go through the process of blending your family.
I am available to coach with you, your spouse and your kids. I have also written the book Blended But Not Broken as a resource to help blended families. You can order it right here right at my website.
So enjoy your spouse. Even if it’s a picnic in the park or just a walk, make some time for just the two of you. Your covenant is so worth the effort. Do the things you did at first when you fell in love even if your emotions are not in it at this time. They will follow as you choose to make your marriage a priority.