You remarried, and one or both of you have children from a prior relationship. You hoped for the best, that the new family would simply mesh on its own, but now you have a sour taste and feel like you are experiencing the worst.
Here are four ways that stepchildren can damage relations with your spouse. I also propose some specific actions to take to start to fix the problems.
The “yours, mine and ours” dynamic is prevalent today with so many remarriages happening. Depending upon the ages of the children, and whether or not they live with you, there are buttons that the demonic realm will try to push with you.
You might step into the marriage with the best of heart and intentions but if the views and intentions are out of sync with God’s word, then the stage is set for great difficulty. The good news is that the proper alignment can minimize these difficulties and challenging situations turned around when correct priorities prevail.
The bible makes it clear that the relationship with our spouse is our top priority. However, I have seen this order out of balance in my counseling situations. Marriage stress results when the partners cannot agree on how to make a course change.
- Make You Feel Jealous About Attention
Younger children by necessity demand more attention but as a child matures, there should be lesser need to micromanage every part of his or her life. The new couple should be working with and disciplining the child together.One must also recognize that the natural parent does need some alone time with the child also.When a child is older (teenager or more), proper time management and focus is paramount to ensure that the child is not trying to subvert the relationship between a husband and wife. As with any newlywed couple, date-night outings, with unencumbered alone time, should be scheduled regularly to help regain the proper balance.
- Reinforce Insecurity You May Have About the Marriage
The ex-spouse is frequently part of the scene, and I have seen the demonic realm work to stir up fear and anxiety that he or she is trying to get their mate back! If the marriage is on a rocky footing, the fears are magnified, and this can lead to further strain, disagreements and accusations.We see this often if the child has “special needs” that might require extra attention.Discernment is required to take the best approach. If the concern is real and potentially legitimate, then the issue needs to be addressed so that proper boundaries with the ex are maintained. The demonic realm often seeks to stir up fear with no real basis and these negative thoughts must be taken captive and taken captive by the offended party.
- Financial Fairness Disagreements
When a man and woman marry, the finances are to be commingled, and there is to be one pot of money for the family. Of course, if one spouse engages in addictive or financially-irresponsible behaviors, special wisdom is warranted, but this is not a common condition.If both partners have brought children into the marriage, they should be seen as “our” children and treated as such.This perspective must also prevail even when there is a birth mother or father involved from a previous union.If a child is older and living outside the home, then another dynamic enters the picture. As a general rule, parents should not be involved in the financial doings of children who are on their own. Many parents enable bad behaviors by continuing to fund poor choices, and this is a separate counseling issue.
- Discipline / Boundary Disputes
When couples bring their children and differing views on child rearing and discipline into the marriage, fireworks and great damage can ensue. If each sees the other’s children as “theirs” then, division rather than unity will prevail. Once again, as discussed earlier, the ages of the children enter into the equation.For younger children, the standards must be the same and reinforced equally by both parents.If there is a meddling ex-spouse in the mix, then effective boundary setting and enforcement becomes extremely important.The children will notice any discrepancies and will work to exploit those things they see as unfair. The demonic realm is working to kill, steal and destroy and what better way to destroy a new family than to bring division.
The spouses must be in agreement on all these issues and how to address them. Some couiples will need help to sort through the options and confront past fears and traumas that are coloring their view of the present situation. Those who bring excess baggage into the new union will need special attention.
Blended families present a wonderful opportunity for new growth and life direction. There are numerous websites and articles out there that help you but sometimes that is not enough. If you are struggling in this area, get help from your pastor or seek out competent Christian counseling.