029: Becoming a Smart Step Family

Podcast Guest: Ron Deal

029: Becoming a Smart Step Family

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In this Episode

On today’s episode of the stronger marriage connection, Dr. Dave and Dr. Liz sit down with author and expert on blended families, Ron L. Deal, to bring you the leading
research, tips and tools about how to create successful step family relationships. If you aren avigating remarriage and/or blending a family unit, join the conversation and learn what may help you on your journey!

0:03 – Introduction: Who is Ron Deal?
2:35 – How common are step families and step relationships in the US today?
4:15 – A new phenomenon: first time married couples forming blended families
6:57 – Unique difficulties that step families often experience
8:44 – When parenting struggles negatively affect the marital relationship
10:07 – The Fear Factor - how it plants seeds of guardedness and negativity
13:04 – Self mastery & controlling our negative emotions
16:55 – What separates unhappy remarriages from happy remarriages?
18:20 – The different ways jealousy comes up in blended families
20:24 – “Choose the pain” to understand what is going on with you
22:02 – Dating is not very predictive of the realities of remarriage & step families
24:01 – What is the focus of Ron Deal’s book Smart Stepfamily Marriage: Keys to Success in Blended Families?
26:00 – Your remarriage is the first and last motivator for your family to become a family
29:14 – Step parents - allow the child to dictate the pace at which they open up you
31:38 – The biggest mistake a parent can make when he or she is dating
33:00 – You can’t become a mature partner, parent or friend without humility
36:31 – Ron Deal’s takeaway: the journey of being a blended family may not be what you expected or hoped, but it is not without promise
38:04 – Liz’s takeaway: persistence! Step families have a higher divorce rate because of the difficulties, so it takes persistence
38:48 – Dave’s takeaway: don’t let parenting struggles become struggles for the couple relationship

About Ron Deal

Ron L. Deal is one of the most widely read and viewed experts on blended families in the country. He is the director of FamilyLife Blended® for FamilyLife®, founder of Smart
Stepfamilies™, and the author and consulting editor of the Smart Stepfamily Series of books including the bestselling Building Love Together in Blended Families: The 5 Love Languages® and Becoming Stepfamily Smart (with Dr. Gary Chapman), The Smart Stepfamily: 7 Steps to a Healthy Family, and Preparing to Blend. Ron is a licensed marriage and family therapist, popular conference speaker, and host of the FamilyLife Blended podcast. He and his wife, Nan, have three sons and live in Little Rock, Arkansas. Learn more at FamilyLife.com/blended.

Ron Deal Links:

Insights and Invites


Ron: Humble people who can make changes over time will deepen trust and intimacy in their relationship.
Dave: The process of family blending takes patience and time and understanding and love and kindness. Like an extra double dose of all of that.
Liz: All couples have struggles, but remarriages and stepfamilies have some unique struggles and challenges.


● If you are a dating parent, engage your kids in "what if" conversations. You could ask, “what if dad started dating again?” or “this guy has kids of his own, how would you feel if mom were to date him?”. This will help you make better decisions about when and where to introduce your kids to the person you’re dating.
● Practice chasing the pain, as Ron Deal mentioned. Next time you are triggered by something your partner does, ask yourself “what is this telling me?” or “what is going on
inside me and is there a better way for me to handle this feeling than I have in the past?”. Don't let the past invade your present.
● Visit smartstepfamilies.com to discover more resources about step families and remarriage. Then share the website and what you learned with people you know who
are in stepfamily relationships and would benefit from Ron Deal’s work.

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