Extended Family Life

imagesIn the midst of doing life together, there will undoubtedly be changes, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, fears, strained communication, or unreasonable expectations at times. That’s just how relationships are. But hopefully those times will be few, and with good communication between you and your spouse, they don’t have to affect your relationship negatively.

You and your in-laws will probably deal with a few communication issues, now or in the future. You may even experience some stress as they adjust to your family, or they may have negative attitudes about how you live.

They may even have disagreements about your beliefs, family traditions, childrearing methods, and more. They may have expectations about holidays, family gatherings, blending family issues, or taking responsibility for aging parents. But these all can be navigated successfully if you work together, first as a couple, and then as a family. Instead of fearing the challenges that may come, instead, embrace them as ways to learn more about your in-laws and opportunities to love them for who they are.

There will also be unexpected changes that come up. Just six months after they married, Karl’s aging parents got sick and found that they could no longer physically care for Karl’s disabled brother who had cerebral palsy. So after much discussion and prayer, Tina and Karl took him in to live with them. Talk about challenges to a new marriage and to a blending family!

The reality is that attitude is everything, and Tina tackled this challenge with the right attitude. “I’ve been pushing wheelchairs since I married Karl,” Tina says with a smile. “Though it’s not what I expected, it is what God allowed.”

When it came to extended family relationships and the life circumstances that arose, Tina chose to have a genuine positive attitude. In so doing, she became a successful and vital part of Karl’s family. She also set a fine example for all to emulate.

Karl loved her for it. The extended family respected her, and her daughter Jennie learned how give, serve, and share. It was a win-win for all of them.

What unexpected changes have come your way as you navigated life with extended family? I’d love to know!

 Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.



Revealing Yourself

couple-talking8-saidaonlineutahmarriageusueduCommunication is the lifeblood of any relationship; it will affect every aspect of your marriage. It can help you inform, explain, influence, and build intimacy with one another.

Good personal communication is the act of revealing yourself—your past experiences, present feelings, and future dreams. It’s sharing your fears, needs, and desires carefully and honestly. Communicating well is also about setting boundaries, confronting problems, admitting when you’re wrong, and extending grace to each other.

“Honesty is paramount,” Ben says. “Authenticity—being who we really are no matter what—is critical. I experienced the lack of it in my first marriage, and I didn’t want that again. I’m so glad that Jennifer is the same person whether she’s speaking at a conference or sitting on the front porch with me. And I want her to know who I am. I believe that real love is knowing someone with all their faults and loving them still.”

When Adam and Eve sinned, they broke the communication they had with their Creator and caused isolation from Him. They covered up and hid; they were dishonest and ashamed. God never intended that, and He knew that a life of dishonesty and hiding would be painful and counterproductive. That’s why God delights in His people overcoming negative communication patterns and learning to communicate in healthy and loving ways.

“Be proactive in revealing who you really are,” Ben says. “Learn to be authentic in every area of your life. Allow your mate know you completely and get to know him or her completely, too. And when you’re communicating about something, let your mate know what your thought process is, not just the decision you made. Let her see how you got there so she can understand how you think and how you make decisions.”

How have you learned to reveal yourself to your mate? We’d love to know.

Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.



Rekindling Awareness

couple1There are times when we all fail, when we make mistakes, or when one of us has a need that the other either doesn’t know how to meet or isn’t responsible to meet. We should realize that only God can meet some of our needs. And when we understand that perfect love and unconditional acceptance can only be found by having a relationship with Him, we find balance in our lives.

On their fifth anniversary, Rick and Linda went camping to celebrate. But they also decided that it was time for a marriage tune-up. “We had been so busy with life,” Linda says, “that all of a sudden, I realized that there was an ache in my heart. There were things we needed to talk about, but there didn’t seem to be the right opportunity. So months went by and I forgot about those things, or I stuffed them away. And we never quite found the time to have a good, healthy discussion. This time away gave us the chance to intentionally stop, reevaluate our relationship, and take the time to tune up our marriage. We spent five hours talking about our needs, and it was great!”

“We simply had to rekindle our awareness of each other’s needs,” Rick says, “and then we had to be willing to figure out how to meet those needs. People often go along in their marriage, and they get lazy. We forget to be deliberate about serving each other and keeping our marriage healthy.”

“We were sliding into complacency,” Linda says. “Often, it’s simply being considerate of the other’s feelings. If the wife has a concern or fear, for example, the husband should try to alleviate those concerns, and visa versa. And it’s so important not to assume the other just knows what your need is.”

“A person can get irritated when he or she doesn’t get a need met,” Rick adds. “But sometimes it’s because that person hasn’t told his or her spouse what that need is! We can’t expect to read each other’s minds.”

“Sometimes I hesitate to tell Rick about a need, because I think it might spoil the moment,” Linda says. “It doesn’t feel as romantic to tell him I need romance. Especially since I think he should already know this. But then, if he doesn’t meet that need, I get disappointed and resentful and frustrated. I know that’s not fair to him.”

As Rick and Linda attest, unmet needs do cause conflict, frustration, and misunderstandings in a relationship. But learning how to rekindle awareness, keep short accounts, stay on top of things, and alleviate those misunderstandings can sure help.

Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.



Expectations: On Valentine’s Day and Beyond

images-4Valentine’s Day is a time where expectations often run high, especially for women. But when you don’t understand what is expected, lots of conflict, stress, and frustration can arise. What’s really important to each of you spiritually, physically, educationally, financially, emotionally, and sexually?

Dale and I spent a lot of time discussing these kinds of expectations before we remarried. Because we’d been hurt in the past and had been single for so long, we knew that our previous experiences could affect us greatly if we didn’t understand each other well. Knowing our faults and foibles helped us both adjust more easily to the relational mishaps that would come our way.

When you study each other’s priorities and preferences, you’ll be better informed when it comes to understanding each other’s expectations. Though you won’t get all the answers to every area of life, as you explore the area of expectations, you will soon realize how comfortable or uncomfortable you might be with the other person’s expectations.

How does your future mate feel about playful banter, jokes, or surprises? Dale makes me laugh everyday with his witty quips and comebacks. But because of my past experiences, surprises and sarcasm don’t always sit well with me. Surprising each other is one of those tricky expectations that sometimes doesn’t work out the way you hope, as our friend, Hannah, also realized.

“Our last Valentine’s Day didn’t work out quite right,” Hannah shares with us. “I took all the kids and got some things to decorate Tim’s office, but he wasn’t too impressed.”

Tim says, “I was in my work zone, and it got complicated. Because of the office policies, Hannah couldn’t bring the kids up to my office, and I didn’t have time to deal with it all, so it didn’t go well. She wasn’t too happy when I got home.”

“But we celebrated Valentine’s the next night,” Hannah says. “It turned out well, but there will always be misunderstandings and expectations that get in the way. You just have to work it out!”

What Valentine’s Day foibles have you experienced in the past? It’d be fun to know.

Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.



New Year’s Resolutions?

530403_10200399356853300_1298173049_nMy favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future’.”

As I look back on 2012, I see how God had some wonderful plans for me.

  • I became a Grandma for a second time, went to South Africa to see my wonderful family, and enjoyed the blessings of being with them.
  • Our first book, Countdown for Couples, was released as an e-book and will be released in Spanish next month.
  • Our second book, The ReMarriage Adventure, hit the shelves in September and is selling well.
  • I had wonderful opportunities to write for several magazines, edit a marvelous book, serve new writers and seasoned editors as a publishing consultant, speak at conventions and retreats, and so much more.
  • Though I had some health issues, none were cancer or life threatening.
  • My mom turned 90, so we celebrated her with a huge party and week together.
  • My husband got help for his back in the form of a neuro-stimulator.
  • I’m working on my third book and love the journey of writing.
  • And I grew closer to God, family, and friends throughout the year.

Yes, there are a few unanswered questions, physical challenges, family stresses, and such, but I know that He’s got all that figured out too. His plans are good, and they are for my best. His plans for you are good, too!

As I look ahead to 2013, I do have plans, resolutions, hopes, and dreams. And as I align them with God’s plans for me—to grow closer to Him and to love and serve others—they will succeed.

What are my New Year’s Resolutions? More…Peace. Love. Integrity. Joy. Kindness. Patience. Goodness. Wisdom. These are the resolutions that really matter for eternity. So this year, I’m going to let God set my resolutions.

What about you? What are your resolutions for the New Year? I’d love to know.

Susan is co-author of The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.


The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I am interrupting the regularly scheduled blog to participate in a “blog tour”. So guess what? You’ll get two blogs today. Enjoy!

This “tour” is similar to a chain letter (gasp!) for those who like to know more about the behind-the-scenes details of a book. Julie Carobini answered questions about her book last week, and today it’s my turn.

I hope you enjoy this little holiday distraction. And next week? Four of my writer friends will share about their books on Wednesday, December 17th. (I’ll provide you links.)

Here’s the scoop:

What is/was the working title of your book?

We originally titled our book, Countdown for Second-Marriage Couples, but that left out those who have been married more than twice. So the editorial team suggested The ReMarriage Adventure, and we loved it!

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Our first book, Countdown for Couples, focused on first marriages. But because the failure rate for remarriage is even nearly 75 percent, our goal in writing this book was to help lower that rate significantly by preparing couples for the adventure of remarriage.

What genre does your book fall under?

Non-fiction: Marriage

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Remarrying couples are looking for real answers to help them build successful marriages that last a lifetime. This easy-to-use premarital guide will help individuals, couples, pastors, counselors, small groups, or premarital classes prepare for the adventure of remarriage. (Oops, that was two.)

Will your book be self-published, traditionally published, or represented by an agency?

The ReMarriage Adventure was published by Tyndale and Focus on the Family, just like our first book, Countdown for Couples.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Dale and I had so much fun that it only took about three months to get it done.

What other books would you compare this book to within your genre?

I’m honored that Ron Deal endorsed The ReMarriage Adventure, because it’s sort of a companion to his The Smart Stepfamily. While Ron’s book focuses on the kids, our book is primarily about the remarriage relationship. So between the two, any remarrying couple would find a wealth of information to get their blending family off to a great start.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

One of the reasons our first marriages failed is that we didn’t have a premarital guide to help us prepare. That inspired us to write our first book, Countdown for Couples, and now our second book, The ReMarriage Adventure. Both of these are, in essence, premarital counseling in a book!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The true value of reading The ReMarriage Adventure, is that it’s a roadmap for success. It combines spiritual principles and practical strategies to empower couples to succeed in their remarriage. We concentrate on making a remarriage really strong because marriage is the foundation of the family, and your family can only be as strong and healthy as your relationship as a couple!

Thanks for reading! Next Wednesday, please visit the following writer friends who will share the inside scoop about their own books. Feel free to hop over there now, but don’t worry, I’ll remind you again next week. Thanks!

Mitch Temple

Brandi Boddie

Jackie M Johnson

Brandy Bruce