Why My Spouse Comes First In My Second Marriage

As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we spotlight a different stepfamily to learn how they've worked to bring their two families together. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we'll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life!

After 11 years of marriage, Kristie Carpenter can say with confidence that she and her husband, Dan, have survived the toughest years of the blended family process.

Yes, her word of choice is "survive." The mom of four admits that bringing two sets of kids together was not easy. Today, she eschews the word stepfamily -- a decade and four grandkids later, they feel just like family.

Below, Kristie, who blogs at The Blended Family Mom, shares more of their story.

Hey Kristie. Please introduce us to your family.
The Carpenter blended family includes me and my husband Dan and four children. Dan has two: Emily, 31 and Eric, 28 and I have two: Jasa, 26 and Hugh, 23. We have four grandkids now, too! We've been married for nearly 11 years.

Photo courtesy of Kristie Carpenter

What were some of the biggest challenges when the kids were growing up?
One of the biggest challenges in our blended family early on was my husband and I learning to prioritize each other in the marriage. The husband and wife are the foundation of the home; without that strong foundation, the family unit will crumble. What we saw in our family was that as Dan and I drew closer to each other –- and decided to make each other the priority -– the children saw this and it helped them draw closer as well. The other challenge we faced was figuring out how to parent each other’s children. We learned, through a process we call preventive parenting, that it was possible to set boundaries from the outset, recognize potential problems before they happened and give the other parent disciplinary choices in the midst of everything.

What's the best thing about being part of a blended family?
The best thing about being part of a blended family is the privilege we both had to bring a sense of stability to our children’s lives and show them what a “good times and bad, till death do us part” marriage could look like. It is also knowing that you have a wide support system. And around the holidays and special occasions, the joys of our family gatherings are incomparable.

What makes you proudest of your family?
We are so proud of our children as they carry on our desire for strong marriages and strong families. We have a daughter and son-in-law who lead a life group ministry in their home every week. Our other daughter and son-in-law have embarked on leading marriage studies in their home. Our youngest son is just trying to follow all the information the rest of us are giving him on dating!

How did you deal with stress in your household?
The best way we dealt with stress in our household was through family meetings. We did our best to confront situations head-on and allow our children to talk and work with us through resolution. There were some difficult times but through prayer and being as open and honest in our daily lives as possible, we’ve had some pretty good success.

What advice do you have for other blended families who are having problems?
For those families that are struggling to find peace, we would first suggest to you the act of humility; so many times we demand respect for our positions, when what actually is needed is to step back and take a look at the entire situation with compassion and an understanding of where each family member is coming from. I would also suggest that you have the patience of Job. Believe me, this “beautiful blended family” is going to take time. Don’t think you can figure this out in your first years of marriage and blending. Wake up every day with the determination to hang tough and be diligent; the results are priceless.

Kristie Carpenter
Jasa, Emily, Kristie, Dan, Eric and Hugh. The two littles are Dan’s granddaughter, Kirstin (Emily’s oldest daughter) and David, a friend’s son.
Kristie Carpenter
Emily and Kristie at Emily and Justin’s home in Arizona
Hugh and Dan during a break from skiing at Steamboat Springs, CO

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