Blended Families- Problems and Challenges

Author: Brenda Pace, Author of "Journey of a Military Wife"

Photo by U.S. Navy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

March 8, 2018

The configuration of a blended family varies as do the challenges

When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (Genesis 30:1–2)

In-law problems were not the only problems Jacob encountered in marriage. Now he had not only one wife, but two—two sisters who brought their own baggage into the complicated relationship. No, this is not an episode of Sister-Wives, but the ancient day equivalent of a blended family.

The Pew Research Center reports that there are more blended families today than in any other time in history. Nearly half of young people ages 18 to 29 have a stepsibling.1 Cru Military believes the number of blended families in the military far exceeds the ratio in the general population.2 Blending a family is a challenge, and military life adds additional factors to that challenge. Cru’s Ron Deal says that the average stepfamily needs five to seven years to develop a family identity. Military families may see this timeframe extended due to the absence of a parent through deployment, training, or operations tempo. Deal suggests a new blended military family “step down” their expectations and be patient as they adjust to the new situation.3

The configuration of a blended family varies as do the challenges. The old “Brady Bunch” scenario is not the norm for such families. Before the new family settles in together the common state of affairs includes power struggles, boundary testing, and guilt. In the case of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah, the situation brought jealousy and drama. Rachel and Leah worked against each other in their effort to be the favored wife. Their competition for social standing through bearing children brought disgrace to Jacob and planted seeds of tribalism that would be evident through their children.4

Yet, through all the deception, drama, competition, jealousy, and blame, God worked his plan. Theologian Walter Brueggemann describes the scene: “… two competitive sisters, a husband caught between them, and an exploitive father-in-law are not the most likely data for narratives of faith.”5 Indeed. Yet God did use these fallen and fallible people. God blessed this blended family with twelve sons through whom God fulfilled his promise to Abraham to establish a great nation from his heirs.

Respond

You may be a member of a blended family. If so, what have been your unique challenges to adjust to military life? Consider a blended military family you know. How can you bless them today?

Prayer for the Journey

Lord, I pray your blessings on the family I just identified, and all blended military families. You know the unique challenges they face. Help them as they navigate their way to becoming a united and strong family unit. Amen.

If you are dealing with this issue, you do not need to face the challenge alone. Jesus has conquered every challenge so you can move from your present situation to a life of overcoming hope. Invite him to lead you in your journey. He will forgive, comfort, and heal you.

There are warriors who know what you are going through and can give you guidance. Please click one of the buttons below and allow one of them to connect with you. Your connection and correspondence with with them is completely confidential.

1 Jens Manuel Krogstad, “5 Facts about the Modern American Family,” www.pewresearch.org, April 30, 2014. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/30/5-facts-about-the-modern-american-family/ accessed May 20, 2015.
2 “Tools for Ministering to Military Stepfamilies,” www.militaryreadyfamily.org http://militaryreadyfamily.org/ministering-to-stepfamilies.html, accessed May 20, 2015.
3 “Blended Families and the Military,” www.militaryreadyfamily.org http://militaryreadyfamily.org/blended-families.html accessed May 20, 2015.
4 Waltke, 415.
5 Walter Brueggemann, Genesis (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1982), 253.