I do not have a PhD in physiology, though there have been so many times that I wished I could download such a degree for immediate use. But even a PhD in physiology does not have all of the answers we need to deal with a Stepfamily.
Like it or not, an Ex is a part of my family and probably yours as well. Here is the long and short of it all. You cannot control the behavior of anyone except yourself. And isn’t that hard enough? I know it is for me!
I am an Ex-wife, I have to engage with Doc’s Ex-wife, and I have to engage with my Ex-husband’s wife. When there is an Ex in the mix of family, there are usually issues that must be dealt with in your home.
Here is truth about my life and working with Ex’s, I have had to grow up more, dealing with a stepfamily, than with any situation I have ever encounter before in my life. It requires maturity that I simply do not have. It requires wisdom that I do not have to cope with the many and varied issues that exist in stepfamilies. It has taken someone much smarter than me to make this stepfamily functional. It takes prayer, it takes God; and it takes mental, emotional and physical discipline!
Mental discipline requires that I have a positive thought regarding others. I have to find positive things to say and think about the children and former spouse. If you can only make one change to yourself, then choose to change your thoughts. I promise you, this step alone will make a huge difference. Tell the former spouse something positive next time you are around her. Compliment her clothes, hair or maybe something you liked in her interaction with the children. Your comment must be real, and genuine. You may have to look hard, but do it! It is important that you give the compliment with no expectations. Do not look for her to be nicer, or to like you, or to be more cooperative. This is about you being an obedient child of God.
Emotional discipline is my greatest challenge of the three disciplines. It is so much easier to believe the bad about people than it is the good, isn’t it? And when we believe the bad, we respond with the corresponding emotion. That is why I said to watch your thoughts toward others because they can trigger unhealthy emotions. My emotions can be just under the top layer of my skin; and, one emotional bump and I am having an emotional nosebleed all over my husband.
Ladies, this kind of emotional outburst is not attractive to your man!
Allow your actions of love to be what others see and not an emotional nosebleed. Grab you thoughts captive, find a positive thought, keep your mouth closed, and reign in your emotions. Yes, this is easier typed than done.
Physical discipline is just as important as the previous two disciplines. Keep yourself in the best physical shape that you can. I’m not talking about getting in shape for a marathon, unless you are into that, but take walks, lift weights, and add a few pushups. If you are feeling confident in your appearance, it is easier to let go of self-conscious thoughts when you are interacting with the former spouse. Increasing your endurance with exercise is also beneficial in keeping up with the children, wisdom with the former spouse, better ability to sleep, and sexual energy for when you have time with you husband.
All of these disciplines need to begin with prayer. Prayer for the children, prayer for the former spouse, prayer for unity and peace in the family and pray for the former spouse’s finances to flourish, and for her to have good friends. Sister, you cannot accomplish this without help; and the only one who is able to help is our Father.
Ask our Father to strengthen you in all areas, because like it or not you are on the mission field, and it is part of you job to help feed and pray for God’s flock that He has placed in your care. This includes the former spouse.
Latest posts by Diane W. Bailey (see all)
- What God Can Do with A Shattered Heart - September 5, 2022
- When It Is Time to Bring Your Ship Ashore - January 2, 2018
- Art Of Hospitality – How to Love Others As Ourselves - November 27, 2017
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Diane, everything you said here sure hit home. Girl you hit it right on the nail.
Cyndi, I’m so thankful that what God is blessing in our lives can bless others. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. ~Di
Oh how we need God to walk us through this life… Blessed are the poor in spirit, for there’s is the Kingdom of Heaven! When we think we can traverse this land on our own without the Almighty’s leading and guiding, we are gravely mistaken and will falter and fall every time. Presenting ourselves to Him poor in spirit and recognizing our nothingness without Him not only stores up treasures in Heaven, but makes for a more peaceful, God-ordained life here on this earth. Beautifully written, Diane!
Marissa, you are always such an encouragement to me. Thank you.
Diane…this is a brilliant series…such GREAT advice! I am tucking it away as we enter foster care…especially about how to love a child whose whole ideal dream family has been shattered. Thank you for boldly tackling this HARD topic! So, so, so good!
Hey Lindsey! So glad to have you here! Thank you for your kind words, I am giving God all the glory for any wisdom. He has been, and still is, my teacher.
Hello Lindsey, it so nice to have you visit! Thank you for your kind words. Any wisdom you friend receives is from God. He has been, and still is, my teacher.
SO good, Di. Discipline isn’t easy, and it flat wore me out when my kids were home. Add all the exes to the mix, and holy cow!
Press on with this, you’re doing GREAT
Thank you Susan, You are my rock! Love you!
Absolutely, Diane, prayer must come before and along any relationship. Not sure how I function without it, but sometimes I foolishly give it a try. I can also relate to your comment about not having an emotional nosebleed–great visual! I appreciate the encouragement you give. God must be integral in our lives whether we have ex’s or not.
Amen, Juliesunne, Amen! Thank you for coming by and commenting. I too have foolishly tried to make it without prayer, mostly because I am so busy. There for awhile I would write “prayer” on my to do list!
I am so thankful I ran across your website. I am thoroughly enjoying your series on 30 Days to A Better Stepfamily. Even the title eludes positiveness. As you can probably figure, this caught my attention because I have a blended family. As a matter of fact, we also have two biological children and two step children. I birthed the two girls and my husband has the two boys. We have experienced great difficulty in this area but mainly with one strong willed child which is the youngest by the way and still at home. All the others are living on their own with their own children with the exception of my oldes daughter who just recently got married. But our two sons are also divorced with children and have and/or will be blending together as a stepfamily at some point. It’s funny when you were referring to emotional discipline and having an emotional nosebleed all over your husband. Well, this can also happen the other way around where the husband can have the emotional ouburst or nosebleed. My husband and I are constantly in turmoil about our youngest “adult” daughter and the fact that she still lives at home with no intention of leaving anytime in the near future. She is going to college but we all know that she is not giving it 100% as she should (and that is an eyesore for my husband). She refuses to get a part time job (which my husband also despises). We stopped providing for her in most ways but her natural father still enables her by supporting her and giving her money when she wants it so it is defeating for all of us. I agree that prayer is so important and is what has helped me to remain strong. My husband believes and attends church with me and he prays before each meal but that is about the extent of his time spent our God. He is always talking negatively about her and says phrases like, “she will never” and “I don’t ever see her changing”, etc. This makes me angry and I have asked not to say anything negatively anymore about her or to me. I just want more love and harmony within our family and for them to get along and be able to carry on a conversation and laught and cut up together. Is that asking to much? Can this ever happen? Everytime I think we are getting close to it, something happens to set them back again. But I know that with God all things are possible and that every day is a new day. I look forward to continuing reading your series.
Debra, I know it is difficult. I frequent have to remind myself to keep my behavior above reproach…and some days are easier than others! I hope your New Year bring greater joy in all of your relationships.