Carol Shwanda chronicles her blended family's lives and experiences offering hope, guidance, wisdom, inspiration and humor to anyone who is in or about to enter into a blended family.
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Must Reads for Today’s Successful Blended Families
Blended Family Survival
Yesterday I wrote about how I was coping about my pending empty nest. It’s hardly an empty house when you consider that I still have two kids living at home and most people I know with kids have only two to begin with, but you have to factor in my perspective. It was a whirlwind these past 6 years and Paul and I are still in amazement that we not only tackled the blended family challenge, but that we survived and flourished. This is a staggering accomplishment in light of the odds stacked against blended families. The divorce rate in first marriages is 50 percent and in second marriages it is close to 67 percent.
I wish I could say that I had a magic formula for how to successfully blend five kids, four cats, three dogs, two fish and a bird, but I don’t. I just followed my instincts. I went with my gut.
The first step was in marrying the right guy. This is how I know. Last week Cheryl, Paul’s youngest child, had some friends over after school to work on a physics project, a homemade catapult. I watched through the window of the house as Paul busied himself in his workshop sawing wood for the kids and applauding as the device successfully launched a ping pong through the air. His enthusiasm and delight in helping the children reaffirmed my reason for marrying him. He’s a family guy.
Secondly, we always make time for each other. This is often almost impossible to do when you have a house full of kids and their friends running around creating demands on your time and attention. Even if it is just a short bike ride down to the beach to see the ocean, we always set aside time that is just for us.
Lastly, but not least, we truly value, cherish and adore each other. We support and nurture our lives together. For instance, I make Paul breakfast every morning. I don’t have to. He’s certainly capable of doing it himself, but I want to. He, in turn, always responds favorably and willingly to all of my “honey do” requests, like making my SeaweedArt presses. (So nice to be married to a handy guy.)
The most important lesson we both learned was to stick together. I once read somewhere that one can endure anything if you know that it will end. So true. I now know from experience that the teen years do not last forever. Children can grow up to be empathetic adults and before you know it, they are out in the world and on their own.
My final words of encouragement to struggling blended families members is: Don’t worry so much. This, too, shall pass.