In the Blended Introduction, I talked about creating and maintaining consistency in a blended family in order to help everyone in the family feel secure and loved. In Blended, Part I, I will talk about how to create that consistency.
My good friend Nikki Keirnes of Keirnes Law Firm (www.keirneslaw.com) posted a wonderful article on her Blog about setting goals. I know I have read dozens and dozens, if not more, articles on the importance of setting goals, how to set goals, how to achieve goals, etc. But this article was really good. In it, the author talks about writing down your goals and reading them aloud to yourself every single morning. What a great way to start the day.
I recommend that, in order to create that consistency that is necessary for blended families, you start by writing down your goals for the family. To start with, you can just focus on a few. And be sure to focus on the positive, not the negative. So, instead of saying: “I don’t want to feel left out of the family anymore,” say the following: “I want each and every one of us to feel included, loved, and supported in our home.” By reading these goals aloud every morning, it sets your intention for the day.
I took to posting my goals in common areas of the house. For instance, I received a decorative chalkboard for Christmas this year. On the chalkboard, I wrote my goals for the house. They were actually similar to the goal listed in the paragraph above. I said I wanted each of us to feel included, loved, and supported and for each of us to feel secure in our home and to be welcoming to others who visit our home. I wrote that the expectations of the household were to love one another, support and encourage one another, talk and listen to one another, and be inclusive of one another. By doing so, I displayed for everyone in the house what I intended for each of us in the house. In other words, I put my intentions on display.
This leads to me to an interesting point about intention. I have recently heard a lot about “the power of intention.” Listen carefully and you will hear a lot about it, too. The concept behind the power of intention is that we can create change in our lives by intending to do certain things. I think relationships are perfect examples of the power of intention. It is as simple as the following: if we intend to stay in a relationship with our significant other, we will act very differently than if we intend not to stay in a relationship with our significant other. We will think differently, we will plan differently, we will speak differently, we will act differently based simply upon what we intend to do. If you intend to stay with your significant other and create a happy blended family, you are on the first step to creating the consistency that is needed to support a blended family.
So let’s talk specifics about creating that consistency.
1. Write down your intentions for you and your family. That’s right — don’t forget about YOU. What do YOU want? How do you want and need to feel in order to be in a relationship and part of a family? Because trust me, if you are not getting what you want, eventually you will leave in order to find a place where you will get what you want. I have another brilliant friend (and attorney) named Rebecca Schack who describes relationships in the nicest way (check her out at http://www.meierschack.com). She says that every day in a long-term relationship requires little adjustments. And if it’s worth it to stay in the relationship, you make the adjustments. If it’s not worth it to stay in the relationship, you don’t make the adjustments. So you must ask yourself the question of what is “worth it” for me? What do I NEED in order to be in a relationship? Be brutally honest with yourself. In 10 years time, all the romance and newness of the relationship will have worn off, and all you will be left with is your needs, and the only question you will be asking yourself is whether they are being fulfilled.
2. Now that you have written down your intentions, talk to your significant other about your intentions. Be specific. Tell your spouse what you need and what you want. How do you feel when you are with your blended family? Happy? Anxious? Tired? Jealous? Left out? Confused? Tell your spouse how you feel — without blaming him/her — and tell him/her how your intentions will help you no longer feel this way. Communicate directly, respectfully, calmly, and succinctly.
3. Talk to your children/stepchildren about your intentions. Talk to them in a positive way. Tell them how you have been feeling, again, without blaming them or anyone else. Inspire them to want to ride the train toward your intentions. It is easy to yell at children for not cleaning up after themselves. But in a blended family, especially a newly formed blended family, this may cause discord. Instead, talk about why you want them to clean up after themselves. Tell them how good it feels to walk into a clean room and a clean house. Tell them how you get home from work and are frazzled and overwhelmed and how relaxed you are when you see open space on tables and dishes in dishwashers, etc. Talk to them about how you feel that your home is a sanctuary, a place where you go for relief from the real world, and how you get a warm feeling every time you think of everyone else taking care of your sanctuary by cleaning up after themselves. Praise then when they do it right! In turn, you will likely find yourself easing up a little, and they may work harder to meet you halfway. It is truly a win-win situation.
4. Be patient. Being satisfied in a blended family takes time. Some sources estimate it takes as long as four to seven years. Please don’t get discouraged. Things will get better. Learn to accept the things you cannot change, and learn the gift of inspiring others — you will learn you can move mountains. In Blended, Part II, I will talk about using positivity and inspiration can be game-changers for you.