Sunday, August 17, 2014

7 inspirational actions my wife took have been crucial to making our blended family work

Right now, our culture is in the middle of a huge change. Divorce has become more popular than - not divorce. Directly behind the divorce trend is the increasing rate of people who are just putting off marriage all together. And as divorced, single and widowed parents marry and remarry, we're left with a whole new kind of family - the blended family.

This is the fam with Alura's bio dad, Ryan, on the right. He's awesome.
But how do you make blended family work? First of all, the very term blended family assumes a certain amount of pain and baggage from previous affiliations. Divorced people have all been through a divorce. Widowed people have walked through the death of a loved one. And single people typically always face the crushing loneliness that comes with - well, being alone. So in a world where the term 'blended family' covers so many different scenarios, is there reliable advice that is applicable to all of them? Yes!

Learning from a natural
When I was single, I made two simple promises to myself. I would not fall in love with someone older than me. And I would never marry a woman who already had kids (too much baggage you see). After I made myself those promises, I did the next most logical thing. I married a woman who's five years older than me with two daughters. Brilliant, I know. 

There was something special about Allison. She wasn't like any other girl I had ever known. She had looks and brains and more than anything she loved Jesus. It was the hotness trifecta. But even when I married her, I had no idea what a good deal I was getting. You see, Allison was a natural when it came to making our blended family work. And as I watched and listened and learned about family from her, I distilled some basic principles that are essential to making blended family of any type work. Here are just a few. 

She set the standard for my authority with the kids. Authority looks a little different in every family. Allison and I decided on an old fashion model where dad is the leader of the household (her words). We still make nearly all of our decisions together, but she let the kids know where everything stood.

After we got married, she said, "Girls, you don't have to call Tim 'dad' if you don't want to, but he is the dad of this house, and you'll give him the respect of a dad." Even I was like dang, she's intense. But it was a really good move on her part that set the pace for our home. Now both of my girls have opted to call me daddy, and they respect me as their father, largely because of what Allison told them when we first got married. 

She let me know where I needed to let the kids have control. I won't open the Costco sized can of worms that is the past of my wife and daughters. But needless to say, they brought some baggage to the table. It's cool, I did too. But some of the baggage was related to men in their past who had let Allison and the girls down, and others who even hurt them. For that reason it was important for me to let my new daughters have control over how quickly I moved from being mom's boyfriend, to dad, to daddy.

It required a teachable attitude on my part, but it was 100% the right thing for my girls.  

My wife does the things that we hope our daughters will do if and when they get married. People are giving gender roles a bad rap these days, but Allison and I have come to value a lot of the traditional gender roles that previous generations have used. For instance, she's a stay at home mom and I work to support our family. We're poorer than dirt, but it gives her the chance to do something that I've seen so many working women heartbroken over losing - Allison gets to raise our kids. Worth it.

It's not that working moms are bad. My mom worked my whole life, and she's a excellent mother. But our hope is that our girls will see the value in Allison's sacrificial support of our family, and emulate it.

Allison spares no effort in taking responsibility for her own mistakes. This is probably the most difficult one for most people. It's always easier to blame the other person than it is to take responsibility for your side of a disagreement or argument or whatever. But Allison didn't do that. 

When things got tense between us, she'd take a deep breath, and tell me what she thought she had done to contribute to the tension. That made a huge impression on me every time. Even when I felt really angry. Her simple act of humility and honesty always triggered, in me, a sense of admiration for her. Then I would begin to think about what I had done to contribute to tension. 

She didn't put the mistakes of her ex's on me. Nearly everybody knows what its like to get burned by a boyfriend or girlfriend. After you've been burned enough times, it can be tempting to keep your guard up, even when you've moved into a new relationship. Then, before you know it , you've got walls up for your new mate, who hasn't even done anything. 

Allison was amazing at leaving the wrongs of her ex's in the past, where they belong. When she felt afraid or triggered by something I said, she'd tell me how she was feeling, and let me know that it wasn't my fault. 

Allison took risks in letting me lead. When she married me, I was 26 years old - only 13 years older than my oldest daughter. But when it came to deciding what school our oldest daughter would attend after elementary school, she gave me equal shares with her in the decision. 

It's risky to trust someone new, especially if you've been hurt in the past. But when it comes to a new person that you've recently married, you have to take that risk and give real trust. It's necessary for building intimacy. When Allison asked me what I thought about Alura's schooling, it made me feel like she was really in it with me for the long haul. 

These are the most valuable things my wife did to make our blended family work. Obviously there are more. And I bet you know at least one or two. So leave your number one tip, on making a blended family work, in the comment section below. 

Thanks for reading!


  1. I can think of one other, very important thing: In alliance with you, she made Christ the solid center of your home.

    1. I feel sorta silly for not listing that one first. You're right, that's the number one thing allison and I have done together to benefit our home.

  2. Well, it just seems like she is all-around awesome. We should hang out again :-)

    1. yes and yes! Allison and I were saying the same thing this morning... about hanging out that is.