Several years into our marriage, Mike and I were blessed with two mutual children who are seven and nine years younger than Annika. Annika's dad also remarried and supplied three more half-siblings in Annika's life.
Annika went from being an only child with four devoted parents/step-parents , to having five half-siblings added into the mix over the course of a few short years. She had to adapt and adjust to many changes and this wasn't always easy. Annika is all grown up now and was greatly impacted by my decision to marry Mike. He grew in his role as a step-father and has positively influenced Annika's life in many ways.
Peaks and Valleys
Before forming a stepfamily, I had no personal experience with stepfamily dynamics (my parents have been married for 50+ years). I grew up watching the Brady Bunch, however our step-family journey has never resembled the Brady Bunch - not even close! Thankfully we were able to attend a stepfamily conference prior to our wedding and gained some insight into what was ahead. We began meeting with other stepfamilies to connect and continue to learn about specific dynamics that can impact adults and children as they navigate stepfamily life. All of this, as well as valued mentors and counselors, have helped us to manage and overcome the struggles we've faced:
- A contentious relationship with my ex-husband which led to three years of adversity in the family courts
- Years of supporting Annika as she struggled emotionally and reacted in defiant and destructive ways
- Relational and financial stressors that pressed in on us, bringing our marriage to the brink of divorce
- Recovering from our personal wounds of the past (mine include chemical dependency issues and loss)
A Passion for Purpose
Over the years we've come to realize that every stepfamily is unique, they are distinct and they are complex. The unfortunate reality is the step-couple divorce rate which is approximately double that of first marriages, creating more loss and heartache for adults and kids. And after living in a stepfamily for over fifteen years, this doesn't surprise me - making it work can be overwhelming. But there's good news too! Mike and I believe that we can all begin to change the cultural statistics of stepfamily divorce by learning new ways of living stepfamily life and putting that learning into purposeful action. Our passion is to encourage, educate and equip stepfamilies with understanding and practical skills to strengthen their marriage, nurture their kids and step-kids and create peace, loving bonds and stability in their home.
If you're ready to take the next step of investing in your stepfamily, we're ready to help. Please click below to connect with us and make a positive difference in your stepfamily!