Avoiding landmines in blended families

Pretty much anyone who has entered the arena of blended families and step-parenting knows that it is like trying to walk across a field of landmines.  Typically, the biggest problem is that the step-parent thinks the step-child should love and respect them just like they would their biological parent.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way.

Here’s the best piece of advice I ever heard on this subject.  As the step-parent, take the time (perhaps years!) to sow nothing but love into the relationship with your new stepchild.  Resist the desire to step in as disciplinarian and let the biological parent handle that.  As a couple, talk with your spouse behind closed doors about how “situations” and discipline should be handled, but then let the biological parent actually carry it out.

The idea of sowing love into a person before expecting that person to love you in return is actually similar to our relationship with Jesus.  The Bible says “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  We need to model this as step-parents.  Your step-child needs to see you demonstrate love for a sustained period of time before believing you actually have their best interests at heart.  This may truly take years, especially if the child is over the age of about 5 when you first enter the new marriage.  Be patient.

This could make husband better

Ladies, your words are so very powerful and influential in your husband’s life!  Whether you realize it or not, every time you criticize your husband or correct your husband or point out flaws in your husband’s ideas, you are crushing his spirit.  Every time you crush his spirit, he ends up feeling like more and more of a failure until he eventually gives up trying.  I have lost track of how many husbands have told me and my husband in a counseling session “I can’t do anything right”.  When a husband says this, he has pretty much conceded defeat.  He no longer has the motivation to strive to be a better husband and father.  He no longer even believes that’s possible,

On the other hand, ladies, a husband who is frequently affirmed and encouraged by his wife gains the courage and the motivation to do the hard work to become an even better husband and father.  He can tell his wife believes in him, so he begins believing in himself as well.  A wife’s kind, encouraging, affirming words can actually esteem her husband to greatness!

Ladies, in Genesis 2:18, God says, “It is not good for man to be alone: I will create a helper suitable for him.”  One of the best ways you can help your man is by being his chief encourager!  Resist the urge to point out his faults and failures.  Choose to encourage him instead.  Catch the vision of esteeming your husband to greatness!  You’ll both be happier!

3 things husbands want in communication

Want to improve your communication interactions with your husband?  Well, maybe it would help if you understood three things that really matter to most men when it comes to communication.  Here they are:

1)  Most husbands prefer that their wife be direct in stating what they want or need.  They don’t respond to hints.  They don’t want to have to read between the lines or try to read your mind.  They just want you to come right out and state what you want or need…and it helps if you can state your needs calmly, without a lot of drama or intense emotion.

2)  Most husbands want you to keep it simple and short.  They don’t want long explanations or fascinating details.  Their minds begin to wander after about 30 seconds!  So get to the point quickly.  Ecclesiastes 5:3 is a good reminder.  It says “Many words mark the speech of a fool“.

3)  All husbands need their wives to be respectful, both while talking and while listening. This is Biblical. Ephesians 5:33 says “the wife must respect her husband“.  This means speaking to your husband in a respectful tone and making sure your body language and facial expressions show honor.  No eye-rolling!  It also means that you listen attentively when your husband is speaking to you, and you refrain from interrupting him, finishing his sentences, or correcting him.  Oh, and one more thing.  It means you let him have a few moments to unwind when

How husbands respond to emotion

Do you tend to get loud when you get upset?  Are you prone to big, dramatic displays of your emotions, whether joy, frustration or sadness?  Well you might not know this, but most men are really uncomfortable with big displays of emotion.  This isn’t true for ALL men, but for most men.

In other words, if you’re a drama queen….your husband will likely try to escape your presence!  He just doesn’t know what to do with your larger-than-life emotions.  Maybe this is why 1 Peter 3:4 advises wives to have the beauty that comes from a “gentle and quiet spirit“.   

Most men much prefer that their wives discuss their emotions, fears, disappointments, frustrations, and joy in a calm manner.  Your husband will be much more likely to engage in a meaningful discussion with you if you can speak in a normal tone of voice, without waving around your arms.  Try it!

Top need of your kids

If you love your children, one of the MOST important things you can do for them is to keep your marriage healthy and intact!  Not to scare you, but the research regarding children from divorced families is alarming.  Perhaps this is one reason the Bible says in Malachi 2:16, “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce”.  God knows the devastating impact of divorce on children’s lives.

Research by Focus on the Family has found that teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual intercourse than are those from intact families.  Also, kids whose parents divorce are substantially more likely to be incarcerated for committing a crime as a juvenile.  Plus, research from the Heritage Foundation found that children of divorced parents perform more poorly at school and have higher drop-out rates.

Yes, God can heal a child’s heart following a divorce, but the scars will remain.  So, work hard to keep your marriage healthy and strong.  Pray every day for your husband and pray daily for marriage guidance from the Lord.  See a counselor if you guys are fighting a lot or if you are growing increasingly resentful.  Don’t let your heart grow hard.  Fight for your marriage.  Your kids will thank you!

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How a wife stays attractive to him

When men are surveyed about what makes a woman attractive, other than classically beautiful features, a strong majority say….her confidence!  So, if you want to be attractive to your husband (or to your boyfriend), work at developing confidence.  Work at becoming secure. 

I believe you do this by spending time meditating on God’s love for you!  He loves you so much he actually adopted you as his beloved child!  He is your Papa!  Meditate on this Scripture from Galatians 4:  “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”

The second quality that is extremely attractive is…humility.  Most men run from a woman who is self-righteous and judgmental.  A husband is repelled by a wife who conveys that she thinks she’s better than him!  However, a husband’s heart is drawn to a wife who is humble, kind and compassionate. The Bible instructs us to be this kind of person!  Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

P.S  Yes, you can carry yourself with confidence, while at the same time displaying humility!  This means having self-respect and dignity, but refusing to act like you’re superior to your guy.

Something busy women need to know!

Most women have extremely busy schedules these days.  I don’t know if life has always been so chaotic for women, but it sure is that way in 2021!  If you’re a wife and a mom, you’re likely running around like crazy trying to take care of the kids and your man and the household and schooling (possibly at home) and maybe even a full-time job.  Whew.  I get stressed out just listing all your roles.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  None of us is Super Woman.  You have limited time and physical energy.  You also have only so much you can give mentally, emotionally and spiritually before you’re completely drained.  That’s why it’s vital for you and me to take a break during each and every day to refresh ourselves.  We do NOT need to feel guilty about this.  Even Jesus “often withdrew to desolate places” (Luke 5:16) to take a break from the demands of people and refresh his soul.  We also need to step out of the desert and onto a lush oasis for a half hour or so in order to rehydrate our souls.  We just need to make sure we choose a healthy oasis.

What is your oasis?  What recharges your batteries?  What refreshes your soul?  Reading a good novel (not a smutty one though!)?  Lying on your bed surrounded by fluffy pillows?  Drinking a cup of coffee while writing in your journal?  Reading a chapter in the Bible and then closing your eyes to meditate on what God is saying to you?  Taking a bubble bath?  Scrapbooking?  Listening to worship music while sitting in front of the fireplace?  Checking out tasty recipes on Pinterest?  Dancing to 70’s music in your living room while no one is watching?

Why your husband doesn’t get it!

Do you sometimes get really frustrated with your husband when he doesn’t see the need to tackle a project quickly?  Do you get exasperated when he doesn’t seem to have a clue how you feel or why you feel the way you do?  Well, here’s a news bulletin.  He doesn’t understand how you think and feel because he’s not a woman!  In Genesis 1:27, we are reminded that God created two distinctly different kinds of people…. “male and female he created them.”  Your man doesn’t think or emote like you because God created him to be different than you!

Men don’t generally sense an urgency to get the kid’s schedule figured out or the house vacuumed.  But you do.  Men don’t usually like to sit and talk about their concerns regarding the children or their job.  You might need to do that, but men generally check out by entering the “nothing box” in their head!

I guess what I’m saying is…don’t be surprised that your husband doesn’t seem to understand you.  He won’t understand you all the time because you’re a woman and he is not. This makes it all the more important for you to have good female friendships.  Make it a point to spend some time with other women, in person or on the phone, at least twice a week.  You need someone to understand and validate your thoughts, fears, hopes, and frustrations.  (Just one caution though.  Don’t bad-mouth your husband in the process.)

How to strengthen family bonds

One way to bond with your husband (and your children) is to share fun, wacky, or unique times together.  When we laugh together, we bond.  When we share a silly or wacky moment together with others, then we bond.  When we share a unique adventure or event, we bond.  Sharing those fun moments brings a smile to our face….and that smile is very healing for relationships!  In fact, the Bible says in Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”

To obtain this good “medicine” for your marriage and your family, you need to be intentional.  Get out your calendar and make a note at least every other month to plan a special, wacky, or unique event!  Let me give you some examples of things our family has done together. 

We have all dressed up in our PJs and gone to Dairy Queen for ice cream.  We have hosted costume theme parties where the entire family gets dressed up and comes together for dinner.  We have had dinner with a “lights out” theme, where we could use no appliances for cooking and we had to eat by candlelight.  We did a caveman dinner where all the food had to be eaten without utensils, even pork ‘n beans!!  Be creative.  Be silly.  Laugh.  You will bond and create warm memories.

Prompting empathy from husband

Are you often really disappointed in your husband because he doesn’t seem to have a lot of empathy in your times of stress or sadness?  Do you find yourself longing for him to comfort you during times of discouragement or heartbreak, but he doesn’t seem to notice your distress or understand what you need?  Well, join the club! 

For most of my marriage to Raul, I found myself getting repeatedly frustrated that he didn’t comfort me when I needed comfort or even seem to notice that I needed empathy!  Then one day about 2 years ago, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me and say, “He doesn’t know what you need unless you spell it out to him.”  What?!  I remember thinking that if I have to tell him exactly what I need in those moments of despair or frustration, then his attempt to comfort wouldn’t be meaningful.  You might think the same thing.  However, I was wrong.

When I finally spelled out to my husband EXACTLY what I needed in moments of heartbreak, discouragement, or stress, he followed through.  He actually thanked me for TELLING him what I needed.  And guess what?  Even though I told him what I needed, it was still very comforting when he did what I instructed him to do.  Just in case you’re wondering what I asked him to do.  I said “Come up to me and wrap me in your arms and hold me tight.  Then pat my back gently 3 times and say ‘I can understand how that would make you feel and it’s going to be okay’.”  It was amazing!  I was comforted!

Husbands are not mind-readers!  If you need something, tell them!  Otherwise, your husband will sense that he’s failing you but be unsure of what to do.  Explaining exactly what you need is actually an act of compassion toward your husband.  This reminds me of the verse in Colossians 3:12  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

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