Marriage Anchor 7: What is best for your marriage will be best for your family, in-laws, church, work, and community.

Wed, Jul 7, 2010

Articles At A Glance

Trying to blend two families is like putting rocks and a wet towel in a blender, turning it on, and expecting God to create a delicious smoothie. Barbara had three kids and I had four! The kid’s ages ranged from 10 to 17. We were sort of the Brady Bunch on steroids! My first wife had passed away from cancer and Barbara’s first husband divorced her for other women. Now all nine of us were being brought together. At times, everything seemed peaceful. Other times, it seemed like a three ring circus. Still other times, we thought we were fighting in the Civil War! The Grunseth’s versus the Benson’s, “Us” verses “Them”.

This turf mentality, very common in blending families, can also occur in traditional, intact families. Sometimes this battle of the blending family involves well meaning, yet intrusive, over controlling, in-laws trying to heavily influence the way you should be raising your children. Inflicting guilt upon you for not going to their home for holidays as frequently as you go to “the other grandparents” is common. Your in-laws may demand action or require explanations for the decisions you make that affect their lives.

1st Anchor 7 Principle: You don’t need to give anyone an explanation for
                           the decisions you make.

If you and your mate have discussed and prayed about what your plans are for the holidays, lovingly and graciously inform your extended families. If any of them demands an explanation, they never respected your decision in the first place.
It takes humble, gracious guts to set this Anchor! The in-laws will not like this at first. Some may try to punish or emotionally hook you and make you feel guilty. Do not give in to this self-focused tactic. If they are going to have a relationship with you, they will learn to respect you and the integrity of your marriage and family minus explanations.
Beware! A common and serious problem in younger couples is when the husband’s parents wield powerful influence over him. What happens is his young wife feels insecure and not protected. She feels she is in competition for love and loyalty with her husband’s parents. The parents begin to subtly marginalize her. She gradually begins to experience being cherished less and less by her husband. He is also frustrated and torn. He loves his wife but he does not wish to displease or hurt his parents. He is in the middle of a tug of war battle between loyalty toward his parents and love for his wife.
Many marriages break up over this dangerous threat to marital unity and oneness. In this case, the husband must take action. He must defend his beloved wife, cherish her, and most likely he will have to respectfully confront his parents. For me, this was the hardest thing I had to do while I was in my late 20’s. My emotional pain was crushing me. I was torn and in the middle.
I learned from Scripture and Bible study groups that when I got married to my first wife, I became one flesh with her. I was not one flesh with parents or children or my brother. God had called me to humble myself and rise up to the occasion and protect and cherish my wife. If I had not done this, my first marriage probably would not have made it. Genesis 2:22-24 says it loud and clear:

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,  "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called 'woman’,  for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” 

For those of you who have ex-mates, if you are remarried, not only are you not one flesh with your ex, but that in a firm and respectful way, you must make it absolutely clear to any and all that you are only and totally one flesh with your new mate! Your new marriage will almost assuredly be tested. Stand firm on these truths. Men, your wives’ greatest need is to experience being safe and cherished. Ladies, your husbands’ greatest need is to experience respect and affirmation. Do not let your past threaten your present and thus your future!
2nd Anchor 7 Principle: Never let your children get in between you and
               your mate.

If you have pre-adolescent children and teenagers under your roof, they can become masters of pitting one parent against the other. Some will become very adept at knowing when, where, and how to push just the right buttons in you. If you do not have this Anchor strongly set in place, contention, rage, chaos, and depression will surface in family members. Left unchecked, these emotionally manipulative kids will drive a wedge in between you and your mate.
Because the husband and wife are not absolutely unified as a singularly, loving and consistent team, some of the more contentious children will end up causing great pain and isolation in their parent’s marriage. This usually is not their intent because they simply want what they want so they test the boundaries set for them. This is quite normal. Allowing these wonderful kids to pit one parent against the other is divisive and destructive.
Going against your mate and giving in to your demanding or contending adolescent will severely hurt your marriage solidarity. It will also communicate to your kids you really do not love or respect them or each other. Using the sports analogy, your kids need to know that you and your mate where the same team jersey!
We recommend letting your teen know that you understand their request and that you and your husband / wife will go to your room together and privately discuss the request and pray about it. After, some sort of unity is attained, you will come back to your teen and let them know what your unified decision is…and that it is final. If discipline is needed, let your teen know you and your husband / wife will pray at bed time together. In the morning, “after the silt settles”, you will let them know what your unified decision is. They probably won’t like this, but in the long run two things will occur:
  •   They will experience being loved and respected.
  •    They will be secure knowing their mom and dad will never break up.

Decide that as long as both you and your mate have breath and a heart beat that no matter what, you will pass all decisions through the question-filter of “Is this best for our marriage?”

“Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Matthew 19:6 NLT

“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1a

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