Ron Deal, LMFT, LPC: Navigating Remarriage Challenges in Blended Families | All Together #37

In this episode, host Dina Sargeant is joined by Ron Deal, a licensed marriage and family therapist, bestselling author, and speaker

In this episode, Dina sits down with Ron Deal, a licensed therapist who specializes in helping families navigate the unique challenges of remarriage. Together, they delve into the common frustrations that arise in blended families, particularly when children from previous relationships are involved.

Meet Ron Deal

Since 1986, he has been the devoted husband of Nan. Together, they have raised three cherished children named Braden, Connor, and Brennan. He is a bestselling author, licensed marriage & family therapist, podcaster, and popular conference speaker. Ron conducts “laugh and learn” marriage and family seminars and provides professional training across the country and online. 

Ron has dedicated himself to exploring the intricacies of stepfamilies and blended families through his insightful writing. With nine books under his belt, he tackles topics ranging from preparing engaged couples for blending families to providing guidance on dating as a single parent. Ron is also collaborating with Dr. Terry Hargrave on a book that delves into emotional regulation and maturity.

Ron hosts an engaging podcast called “Family Life Blended,” where he invites experts to share their wisdom on various aspects of stepfamily living. His passion for supporting blended families extends to his role as the President of Smart Stepfamilies™ and the Director of Family LifeBlended®, a division of FamilyLife®.

About the episode

In this thought-provoking episode, Ron focuses on the challenges that arise within remarriage and blended families. With great empathy and understanding, he addresses the common frustrations experienced by families navigating the complexities of blended dynamics, particularly when children from previous relationships are involved. Ron sheds light on the emotional experiences that children may undergo, such as feelings of being replaced, loyalty conflicts, and competition for parental affection. These experiences can often lead to confusion about their own identity.

To illustrate the impact of remarriage, Ron employs the metaphor of an “earthquake.” He emphasizes the magnitude of loss, change, and challenges that accompany the blending of families. Ron advises a slow and gradual approach, likening it to the art of cooking in a crockpot rather than utilizing a blender.

During their conversation, Ron shares several key pieces of advice that can help families successfully navigate the remarriage journey. Here are some of the gems he imparts:

  • Take it slow: Ron suggests approaching the blending of families gradually, like a Crockpot, rather than rushing the process. It typically takes an average of 5-7 years for a blended family to feel truly cohesive.
  • Educate yourself: Ron advises becoming knowledgeable about blended family dynamics by reading, learning, and understanding how to navigate the unique challenges wisely.
  • Prepare for both good and hard times: Ron explains that remarriage brings a mix of positive and challenging experiences, including feelings of loss, change, confusion, and grief for everyone involved. 
  • Involve children respectfully: Ron recommends including children in discussions about dating and remarriage plans in a respectful manner. It’s important to listen to their concerns without necessarily seeking their approval.
  • Introduce partners gradually: When introducing children to new partners, Ron suggests doing it gradually and considering the child’s age and maturity. It’s advisable only if the relationship has the potential for a long-term commitment.
  • Respect different positions: Acknowledge the different positions within the blended family, such as the insider (biological parent) and the outsider (stepparent). This understanding impacts authority and relationships within the family.
  • Seek professional help: Ron suggests seeking blended family education and counseling to navigate the complex dynamics over the long term and promote peaceful relationships within the family.
  • Maintain hope: Ron encourages keeping hope that, with time, understanding, and effort, a blended family can become a source of great blessing.

In conclusion

The podcast shares valuable insights from expert Ron Deal about the challenges of remarriage and blended families. Ron emphasizes the need to go slow, lower expectations, include children respectfully, and develop a shared understanding over time. By prioritizing education, communication, patience, and wisdom, blended families can navigate challenges and become a source of blessing. 

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