I cannot believe that Joe and I have just celebrated our one year anniversary! I know it is so cliche to say, but it truly does feel like just yesterday when I, having no idea what it would set into motion, hit the friend request button on Facebook. I saw a picture with kids in it and had no clue that the Joe DeLoach I remembered from high school was divorced.
Yet here we are.
Are we still blissfully happy like a couple of newlyweds? Sure, but it's not quite the same blissfully happy when you are in a blended family. There are more challenges in a blended family because your attention is focused all over the place rather than only on each other. I'm sure that's why the divorce rate in second marriages is so astronomically high.
Being blissfully happy in a blended family does not have to be a pipe dream. If you make sure to do these five things, then you too can find bliss when remarrying with children:
1) Make Time As a Couple - Newlyweds without kids have the advantage of being able to spend every day and every night focusing on each other. As newlyweds in a blended family, the focus following the wedding reverts immediately back to the kids... of which there are now more. More kids equals more activities and more energy exerted toward making sure everyone is taken care of and gets where they need to be. We have worked hard to try to have our date nights regularly, even if it's just cooking dinner as a team while the kids play outside. We joke about how we have probably scarred the children for life because they hear the lock click on our bedroom door nightly, but as a couple you have to remain connected for your marriage to be successful. It doesn't just happen... you have to make it happen.
2) Make Time For Yourself - After losing my father-in-law two weeks ago, a friend sent me a message reminding me that I have to take care of myself. Her husband also lost his dad a couple of years ago, so she gently reminded me that if I don't take care of myself, then I will be no help to my husband. This is important in a blended family because we are pulled in so many directions every single second of the day. I have tried to not feel guilty when I make plans to meet a friend for a drink after work or go workout instead of watching basketball practice. I need that time to refresh so that I can be the best mom and wife that I can be.
3) LISTS, LISTS, LISTS - People ask me on a daily basis how in the world I seem to always have everything together when I have four kids. The answer is "LISTS." I have a checklist of things I need to do each day. I have a checklist of things that the sitter and my husband are responsible for each week. We keep a running list of grocery items that are needed on the refrigerator because we run out of things every day. We also keep a board on the wall in the kitchen that shows three things -- which kids will be home and on what days, what we will have for dinner each night, and what activities each child has that week. I use different colored pens in my calendar, and I use sticky notes for unusual changes to the calendar that I may forget. I would be nothing without my lists.
4) Accept The Fact That You Can't Do EVERYTHING - You can't be all things for all people all the time. The sooner you accept that fact, the better off everyone will be. This is kind of an "also, and, in addition to" number 2 above. You will slowly kill yourself a little more every single day if you try to attend every single activity for every single child while supporting every single fundraiser and saying yes to every single email you get that asks you to volunteer. No. Just say no. You can't do everything,so stop trying! You, your spouse, and your kids will be happier when you have more energy and time to devote to your family.
5) Talk About Everything - I have written many blogs about the importance of communication in a relationship and after a year of marriage, I can reiterate that communication can make or break a relationship. Joe was not a communicator before I came into his life, so this has been quite a change for him and for my two step-kids. We now encourage our entire party of six to talk. If something is not working in our family, then we want to know about it so we can do what needs to be done to fix it. Joe and I have not agreed on everything since we got married, but we discuss our thoughts and reasoning with each other and respectfully disagree. It helps tremendously to understand where the other person is coming from in a situation, and the only way to know that is to talk about it. The kids like to make fun of how much Joe and I talk, but I truly believe there are much worse things than wanting to spend your time talking to your husband. Since we enjoy each other so much, we must be doing something right!
I am so thankful that we both came into this marriage with a clean slate and a strong desire to make this our forever marriage. Our children are learning so much about what a healthy, strong marriage is supposed to look like, and it has been such a success thanks to the tips above. I can only hope that years two through forty are as successful as year one has been.
Read more by Valerie DeLoach at her blog, Life in a Blender.
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