I’ve shared with you before how our family is going through a big change. After nearly 5 years of living apart because of my Beloved’s military career and custody arrangements with my ex-husband, we are finally all under the same roof! This has been a HUGE cause for celebration, but it has also been a time of transition and learning how to blend as a family.
At times the growing pains have been downright painful.
When I became a single mom, I had to fight to develop independence. I am not naturally independent or gritty, but as I protected my three little cubs, this mama bear had to dig deep to heal and find a strength I didn’t know I had. The learning continued as Joe and I married and the boys and I were not able to be with him in his military travels. Living alone, going through months of deployments, along with basically having to conduct my day-to-day life as a single mom meant that for the last six years I have been the boss. I’ve made the decisions. I’ve made the feverish middle of the night ER trips alone. I have fixed the leaky pipe and mowed the yard. I did it all.
One day shortly after my Beloved finished his military career and was able to finally move home, I was rushing around the house and stressed to the MAX. You know how it is… Wash the dishes, move over the laundry, let the dogs outside, fold the laundry, let the dogs back in, step on a LEGO, wash the shampoo out of a little guy’s hair, check if the big boy’s room is clean, vacuum the stairs, check the homework papers. Joe kept asking me how he could help, but I just brushed him aside and said I was fine. I would take care of everything.
He gently took my the shoulders. “Honey, please let me help you. You don’t have to do it alone anymore. I am here. And I want to help.”
I looked up into the blue eyes which were radiating safety and unconditional love, and my walls began to crumble. That’s when the tears fell. The weight of the world was being lifted off my shoulders.
I really didn’t have to do it all on my own.
I don’t have to do it all on my own anymore.
This isn’t the only area where I’ve failed. It has been a big transition for everyone in our family, and I want us to continue to grow together. I want our home to filled with love, teamwork, commitment, and respect for one another… and I need help. That’s when I decided to call in the experts. I approached several of my friends who have also been through remarriage and the blending of their families. I asked them for their tips for a newlywed couple like us, and their encouraging advice has been such a gift to me. I know that we are not the only family who is on this journey of blending right now – so I wanted to share what I am learning with YOU!
While there are so many things on my heart right now, I thought that first off I would share with you 10 books that have helped us over the years to begin laying the foundation for our marriage and our family. We worked so hard over the last five years to build a strong bond with each other and with our children, and we couldn’t have done it without this list!
These are the TOP TEN BOOKS ON MARRIAGE AND FAMILY that we read to help us get to where we are today:
The Remarriage Checkup, by Ron L. Deal and David H. Olson – This is one of the first books that we read when we were planning to get married. It was an excellent help as we laid the groundwork for our relationship and future family! It’s on my list to re-read and refresh my memory now as we are finally getting to live together!
Saving Your Second Marriage Before it Starts, by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott – This was another wonderful book that we read “together” while my Beloved was deployed. We would separately read one chapter each day, then we would write to each other or talk about it what we learned whenever we could squeak in a phone call. I read this again once he moved home, and it was a wonderful reminder of the things we learned a few years ago!
For Couples Only, by Shauni and Jeff Feldhahn – Another one of our long-distance deployment reads, we really enjoyed talking about the things we were learning about communication in this book!
The Smart Stepdad, by Ron L. Deal – This is a book that my Beloved read while we were preparing for our new family. I haven’t read it myself, but I think I will at least flip through it now that Joe moved home and it’s sitting on our bookshelf. I’d love to see what he learned and how I can encourage and support him in this transition. I’ll go into this more soon, but whatever he learned was awesome!
Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – We are actually rereading this book together RIGHT NOW! It really is helping to smooth over the rough bumps that we have encountered during our transition so far!
Sheet Music, by Dr. Kevin Leman – This was a fun read that dealt with cultivating marital intimacy. We read it out loud on a road trip (without the kids). *wink*
The Smart Step-Family: Seven steps to a Healthy Family, by Ron L. Deal – We went to a Successful Stepfamilies conference where we learned about this book. A-mazing. And I’ll be rereading it again soon.
Cracking the Communication Code, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – Are you sensing a pattern here? Communication is big! Big! HUGE! Sometimes I can’t understand why he thinks the way he does, and I’m POSITIVE that he’s thought that about me *wink* and this is a great book on breaking down the differences in how men and women communicate.
The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman – You can’t go wrong with this classic. Discover the different ways that you and your spouse give/receive love, and learn how you can keep their LOVE TANKS full! (This comes highly recommended by several of my blended family friends too!)
Living in a Stepfamily Without Getting Stepped On, by Dr. Kevin Leman – Dr. Leman is one of my favorite marriage and family authors. His practical advice and humorous commentary make it easy to fly through his books. I just put this book on hold for myself at the library again. I need the reminder, and it’s just that good.
I asked a few friends who have already traveled this road and blended their families to share their suggestions of books to read while blending families, and they gave me their awesome recommendations. I put these on hold for myself at the library, and I can’t wait to dive in!
Are there other books that have helped you in your own marriage and family? What would you add to the list? I’d just LOVE to see your recommendations!
Have you been through a remarriage journey of your own? If so, I would be thrilled to hear from you!
And lastly, do you know of someone who is also walking through a time of blending and transitioning? If so, would you send them a link to this post? It’s my heart’s desire to send encouragement their way as we walk this road together!
Until next time,
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