Before my husband and I married, I read everything I could about stepfamilies. I was excited about joining our families together and wanted to get a head start on how to have a happily-ever-after future.
But as I read, I was deflated by the dismal picture every book presented. I finally quit reading because I couldn’t process the negativity. I was convinced it wouldn’t be that way in our family.
But I was wrong.
Some of our challenges were to be expected. But our biggest challenges were completely unforeseen. We could have never predicted that my stepchildren’s mother would die of colon cancer within the first decade of our marriage, leaving behind two teen-age children, angry and confused. Following her death, we never imagined facing a custody battle with my stepson’s stepfather over a child that wasn’t his, when my husband was fully capable of raising his son.
I would have never guessed that my ex-husband would lose his complete career as a physician because of addiction, resulting in disregard for child support payments and feelings of detachment and confusion for my two daughters. And just as our family was finding resolution to many of our challenges, we couldn’t have foreseen the loss of my husband’s job, sending us four hours away from our three children in college – a new challenge on the horizon.
Every stepfamily I talk to has challenges. They come in different shapes and different sizes, but they’re there. In his book, The Remarriage Checkup, Ron Deal says, “…the reality of remarriage is that life in a stepfamily is much more difficult than most couples anticipate. The unique challenges of being a stepcouple work against marital success, and only those who intentionally work to overcome them find the reward they dreamed of before walking down the aisle.” (my italics)
What about your stepfamily? Are you experiencing unforeseen challenges? That’s not unusual. But here’s the question:
Are you willing to intentionally work to overcome your challenges or will you be another failing statistic?
Photo by flickr