3 Lies I Believed About Blended Family Life — and You Probably Do Too.
Have you ever believed something — something you were absolutely sure of — only to find out later that it wasn't really the truth? It's tough to admit when we've been duped by a lie. We feel silly or even violated.
Everyone believes a lie at some point. You might be believing some lies about stepfamily life right now. Here's the problem: when we're duped by lies, we make decisions and take actions that back up that lie. Then we end up stuck. I know because I've lived it. It's a part of my story and the story of many step-couples I've met along my journey.
Kim and I have seen countless couples radically improve their stepfamily experience. They started by simply exchanging the lies they believed for the truth. You can do the same!
Here's three common lies step-couples often believe that keep them stuck:
Lie #1: Our stepfamily will 'blend' quickly and easily!
I grew up watching The Brady Bunch. What a great "blended family", right?
But did you ever notice that if you removed show's opening jingle, you probably would never even realize they were a stepfamily! (If you don't know what I'm talking about, go stream any random episode and you'll get it.)
Step-couples today get sucked into what I call The Brady Bunch Delusion. They head into stepfamily life with high expectations, wearing rose colored glasses. They look forward to lots of hugs, laughter and bliss — without needing to work for it.
Real life in a stepfamily isn't like that.
Here's the truth: Stepfamily life takes work…but it's worth it!
I grew up in difficult stepfamily dynamics and now I've been a step-dad for over 16 years. I know first-hand that stepfamily life takes work. Relationships can be challenging in any family and in stepfamilies that's magnified. Relational alliances, diverse family histories and varying degrees of mistrust all combine to wreak havoc in daily stepfamily life.
When step-couples stay stuck in this lie, they either try to ignore the challenges and sweep important issues under the rug. Or they get locked into battle each time an unexpected and unwelcome conflict crops up. But when they accept the reality that it takes work, they get unstuck and start moving forward.
Don't get sucked into this lie and don't stay stuck in disappointment when things don't go well. If you do, you might end up believing Lie #2…
Lie #2: We'll just gut it out until the kids grow up!
Sometimes step-couples shift from Lie #1 into Lie #2 — others just start here. Have you ever thought anything like: "Stepfamily life is supposed to be difficult…right? We'll just have to cope with it for a few more years.
I've heard these kinds of phrases from plenty of step-couples. They believe that stepfamily life is destined to be a mix of various daily miseries and there's nothing that can be done about it. If you've ever been blinded by this lie, then you're probably focused more on coping than on changing.
Here's the truth: You can genuinely enjoy your stepfamily now — not just survive it.
When you stay locked in survival mode because of this lie, you miss the opportunity to thrive. You'll stay focused on what needs to be endured today — just to make it to tomorrow.
Research shows that step-couples who decide to move past this lie get better results. They start their journey toward thriving by becoming more aware of hidden challenges. They decide not to settle and instead get determined to influence those challenges rather than simply cope with them.
The most successful step-couples shift their focus from coping to changing. They refuse to accept that stepfamily life is destined to be miserable. Instead, they actively look for changes they can influence that will make life better — today!
Lie #3: There's NO way we can influence our unique challenges!
I can't count how many different blended family stories we've heard over the years. Every story has a unique twist that causes step-couples to fall for Lie #3. They slip into believing that their stepfamily dynamics are so unique and complex that they'll have to "go it alone" and just take each day as it comes.
The problem here is they become "expert react-ers". They're reacting every day to whatever the immediate issues are and exhausting themselves in the process. After a while, when the tensions really heat up, "expert react-ers" become "exploding reactors"! Someone in the stepfamily hits a tension threshold and BOOM! — tension turns into conflict.
When step-couples pause long enough think about it, they realize that they're living the same story over and over. Their blender isn't whipping up a yummy stepfamily smoothie…it's keeping them stuck in an endless cycle of tension-explosion — tension-explosion — tension-explosion.
Here's the truth: There are strategies and tools that can help every stepfamily regardless of how unique their dynamics.
You may be surprised to discover how many commonalities stepfamilies have. Research clearly shows that stepfamilies armed with effective strategies and tools can get out of the swirling blender. The most successful step-couples start by getting clear on the common issues blended families face. Then they learn to apply those strategies with confidence.
The result of breaking free from this lie is more connection. "Expert react-ers" become "expert responders". They learn ways to respond to the tensions of stepfamily life confidently with a plan rather than simply reacting to the challenges in the moment.
Embrace the Truth
Don't let these common lies (or any others) rob you of genuinely enjoying your blended family any longer. Instead, embrace the truth.
You will face challenges, but you don't simply have to cope with them. You can learn and implement a new plan today that will help you lead your stepfamily with clarity and confidence and ultimately bring greater connection!
QUESTION: Which of these lies have you fallen for…or what other lies have you encountered? Leave a comment below…