A picture is worth a thousand words, but the picture you see is not the life the Chavez family has always lived. They attest to the fact that blending a family has been one of the most challenging aspects of their marriage.
When Jose met Carina, she already had 3 children from a past relationship. Two years younger than Carina and childless, Jose knew he wanted to give this a try if she would let him. Six years and two kids later, they have faced unexpected trials that have made them question their marriage, parenting, and their faith, but the Chavezs’ agree that if it were easy, they would question whether it was worth it; but because the hard times have made them stronger and wiser, their family is worth all the sweat and tears they’ve endured.
Here is their story:
Carina admits that she has been struggling since age 14 when she became pregnant with her first child. Dropped out of high school without a clue about raising a child, Carina stayed home to care for her son while her boyfriend, at the time, worked to help her out sometimes. At home depressed, not sure what direction she wanted to go in and no one to guide her, Carina became pregnant again at 18 and then again at 21.
“I was very young, no one telling me to do anything different than what I was doing,” shared Carina. “By the time I was close to having my daughter, child number three, I’d been through so much that I was finally getting tired.”
Shortly after giving birth to her first baby girl, Carina decided that if things didn’t change really fast, she was going to have to make some drastic decisions. After her daughter turned 6 months, Carina took a leap and started a new life.
“When I left that house, I never looked back,” said Carina. “I got a job and started supporting my family the best I could on my own.”
It was in that moment Carina realized that the struggle of being a single parent with no support system, was going to be tough.
Working several jobs to make ends meet, paying childcare so she could work, spending very little time with her children, battling depression and low self-esteem, Carina felt like she was drowning.
Stressed and wanting to bring her head above water to take a deep breath, Carina took some time to herself and joined a friend for a night out.
“It was one year after leaving a rough relationship, I met Jose,” explained Carina. “We were at a gathering and a mutual friend introduced us.”
Doubtful, listening to her family try to discourage her from starting a relationship with Jose, Carina needed to find out if this could really work out for her.
“I had to take a chance,” said Carina. “To this day, I thank God every day for bringing Jose into our lives.”
After dating three years, the couple married and added two more kids to their equation very quickly, but the blending wasn’t as easy a process as they’d hoped it would be.
“My oldest son, 10 at the time and baby girl, 2, had a very difficult time warming up to Jose,” shares Carina. “My son was very defensive due to watching some abuse go on in the house when his father was there and my baby girl was just confused. My son wouldn’t even call Jose dad.”
Carina shared how she didn’t know how to make the family mesh. Dysfunction was always a part of her life and had become her norm. She began to question herself as a parent, a wife, and a woman, and Jose just wanted Carina to know that he was willing to do anything to show her he loved her.
“I was confused, felt unworthy, I had to make this work. I couldn’t let my kids down again,” said Carina. “Each time I began to feel like that, my husband kept loving and reassuring me that he wasn’t going to give up on us.”
Carina is certain about one thing in her marriage, ‘No matter how hard it gets, we will always stick together,” shared Carina.
The Chavez family have gone through tremendous loss both emotionally and financially. They believe had they not trusted in God, being a blended and winning family would not be within their reach. They both agree they still have a LONG way to go, but it’s possible. How do they know that?
Carina and Jose both say it together, “All things are possible with God!”