Due to a remarkable and painful series of events, a Tennessee couple who had recently divorced were forced to cohabitate with their new spouses and children—both those who were already theirs as well as those who had been born as a result of their new relationships. How did all of this happen?
The first phase was the deterioration of the relationship between Katie Blackmer and her ex-husband Stephen Shepard. They joined the roughly 50% of marriages that end in divorce, so this is regrettably not all that unusual. The months that followed were not easy, but they managed to get through it and move on. After divorcing in January 2016, the two parents of children aged 5, 10, and 11 continued to co-parent their children. But tragedy struck 16 months later when Stephen and his brother were in a terrible vehicle accident that killed his brother and left Stephen needing round-the-clock care for months.
Despite being divorced, Katie stepped in to help Stephen and cared for their kids until she and her new husband, Ben Blackmer, welcomed him home after he was discharged from the hospital to their 2,500 square foot home in Christiana, which is 45 miles southeast of Nashville. Then, when he was well enough to take care of himself, he stayed instead of leaving. The high cost of real estate in the neighborhood and Katie’s declaration that her and Ben’s home was his home made the situation feel natural to him.
After he was discharged from the hospital, Katie told People, “We took him home to us. He needed full-time care for approximately a month and a half. After he recovered, (Stephen) realized that our house was his home. He therefore never left.
Stephen, though, continued to pursue a new love in spite of this. Suddenly, this chaotic tale had settled into a divorced couple living in the same home with their new beaus and, on top of that, six children as of August 2018. He quickly met Brandy, and the two hit it off.
Ben’s 19-year-old son and Brandy’s 7- and 9-year-old kids were the other three kids. Outsiders might anticipate this circumstance to be the definition of awkwardness, or at the very least incredibly tense and uneasy, but it hasn’t actually been that way. According to Katie, the unusually large extended family gets along nicely. We refer to ourselves as the “Blended 10!” Katie added with assurance “This is good for us”.
Katie claimed that the fact that Ben and Stephen were pals before the latter moved in also helped. What about the bills for the five-bedroom, two-story house? They divided it equally.
“Our home is constantly busy. Everyone is constantly playing, running around, and chasing one other. It’s noisy,” replied Katie. It’s a little like having a roommate from college, but it works. I was anxious, but everything simply came together and our family is fantastic.
Katie acknowledged that her way of life had drawn some criticism, but she was adamant that she wouldn’t swap places with anyone. “Our family and close friends are all supportive, as far as I can tell. We occasionally encounter individuals who ask, “Have y’all lost your minds? ” “From this point on, this is our strategy,” Katie added. It’s frantic and noisy. But I’m not sure what I would do if my house was silent right now!
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