When Two Become Ten
by Ray and Debbie Alsdorf
Before becoming the modern-day Brady Bunch, we had high hopes. We hoped that our new family would be the answer to our future and the new lifeline to our happiness. We never stopped to think about the loose ends and fragmented pieces that make up a new family merged by a remarriage. We were two completely different families with different backgrounds, different traditions, different likes and dislikes. We had different rules, different habits, and even different dinner menus! In the blush of a new relationship, many questions went unexplored until we were forced to face them when this new family hit a wall.
You know you’re in a blended family when you hit that invisible wall and find yourself related to people you don’t know, referring to children that you didn’t give birth to as “your” children, and spending energy making financial ends stretch to meet growing obligations. You know you’re in a blended family when your time is no longer your own, and you’re dancing around calendar dates to make everyone happy. And you know you’re in a blended family when you feel like a stranger in your own home, don’t know how to play by the rules anymore—because they keep changing—and feel criticized and confused more than appreciated and understood. Sometimes it seems like the reality of being in a stepfamily is being stepped on!
This book is for couples like us who have hit a wall or think they are heading toward one. Or for couples like us who have felt stepped on by the pain of this new life and dare to hope that God is in the serious business of fresh starts, renewed hope, and restored lives.
Our reality has led us to hope in a power bigger than ourselves, because on the flip side of the pain, we have experienced God’s grace, love, and forgiveness at work—and over twenty years we have indeed become a blend of two sets of different people committed to trusting God to work His idea of family into our lives. With the mistakes we have made and the hope that God can redeem our mistakes, we are committed to encouraging others in blended families and have worked with many couples over the past several years.
Couples who are trying to navigate their new lives have asked us many questions—lots of why and what if questions like:
Why didn’t someone tell us it would be this hard? What do I do if my kids have a deadbeat dad? What if I, as a man, feel like a stranger in my own home? Why can’t his ex-wife just move on and leave us alone? Why can’t her ex-husband work together with us to make things better for the children? Why is discipline such an issue? Who is supposed to do it now—the “real” parent or the stepparent? The man? Or the woman? What if I (the stepmother) can’t work with an overcontrolling ex-wife and biological mother? Why does the other parent insist on overindulging his or her children? What if the rules are different in the other house? What if you run out of money after paying all the court-ordered obligations? What if the children reject me? As a stepparent, what is my role? Will we ever truly be a family?
We are not stepfamily experts, but we have the experience of walking the streets of life in blended-family shoes. Ours are a different size and style than yours, but they are the same brand: stepfamily, bonus family, blended family—whatever you want to call it… We are not going to give you quick fixes, but hopefully we will cause you to think, to learn, and most importantly to trust God’s redeeming grace as you endure trials that can turn into triumphs.
This article was excerpted from Beyond the Brady Bunch, © 2010 by Ray & Debbie Alsdorf. Published by David C. Cook, www.davidccook.com. Used by permission. All rights reserved.