Fifty percent of all families are blended families—a marriage where one or both spouses bring children from a previous marriage or relationship.
Blended families can be incredible. I know many, many successful marriages that began this way. After all, there are a lot of great blended families in the Bible. Even Jesus came from a blended family. But they also include particular dynamics that are present from day one. These can be very challenging.
One of the most significant issues is unresolved feelings toward a past partner.
Blended families begin after a past relationship has ended. It could have been a marriage, a sexual relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a live-in lover. Regardless of the relationship, break-ups are never easy.
Sex creates a powerful bond between two people. Our society trivializes sex, but the Bible tells us there is a joining of souls when a couple becomes “one flesh.” Sex connects two people in a deep, powerful way. When you sever that relationship, it’s never a clean break. A part of that person comes with you.
Studies tell us that fifty percent of married people who get divorced still harbor feelings for their ex-spouse ten years later. Think about that. A full decade after a relationship ends, half the people still experience powerful feelings toward their ex.
Sometimes those feelings are good. Sometimes they are bad. Either kind can be problematic to a new marriage and a blended family.
Sometimes we look back on relationships and idealize the good things. For instance, a new relationship may be going well, but the first time we encounter a difficulty, we start remembering the good parts of our past relationship. We long for the way it was.
The devil torments us by reminding us of the high points in our past. That’s because he does not want us to remember the reason the relationship ended. In these cases, we have to deal with these feelings. We need to thank God for the good memories and then move on. Rather than long for them, we have to let them go.
Other times we may look back on past relationships and feel bitterness and anger. Maybe we were hurt deeply by that break-up. Or maybe the devil is perverting or poisoning our memories. Regardless of what happened, many people enter a new relationship burdened with anger about the old relationship.
They focus on the bad things. When this happens, the new spouse bears the brunt of the pain. This happened early in my marriage. I had emotional scars from my past and an angry, arrogant disposition. Karen got the worst of it.
Unforgiveness is an invisible umbilical cord that connects us to our past, and it was feeding me bitterness. I had to sever it for the sake of my marriage.
I had to learn to take captive the painful thoughts from my past. With God’s help, I took the steps toward forgiving those who had hurt me.
In a blended family, good and bad feelings from past relationships can be unhealthy. For your new marriage to thrive, you need to let old feelings go.
Thank God for the good in your past. Ask Him to help you forgive the bad in your past. And then determine to live in the present.
Learn more in the MarriageToday program:
Blending Families: Prior Relationships