Remarriage is for grownups
Remarriage in your blended family can be tough
There is a reason marriage is restricted to grown-ups, and blended family remarriages are an excellent example of why this is true. Married life is hard work under almost any circumstance. And when you factor in issues with kids and step kids, ex-spouses, step sibling conflicts, and trying to keep visitation schedules on track, it is a wonder we manage to put any effort at all into our blended family couple relationships. It is important, however, to develop and sustain our bond, because the greatest asset your blended family can have is a strong relationship between its founding members. It takes real discipline, commitment, and a determined approach for many blended family partners to schedule regular date nights.
Dating in your blended family
Dating can be tough, and for single parents, making the time to date is just one of the problems. When you and your partner first began your relationship, however, you did manage to find time to go out on dates, spend quality time together and get to know each other. The mere fact that your blended family is now living together under one roof does not mean you can put dating on the back burner. As a matter of fact, one of the most important things you can do for your relationship is to have weekly date nights. No matter how busy you are during the week, how many kids and step kids you have together, or how much you hated dating when you were single, there is no excuse for not taking an evening out of the week to reconnect with your partner.
Step couples need time together
Even in the heady first months of their remarriage, when blended family newlyweds spend time together, they often discuss – or argue – about step parenting issues, problems with ex-spouses, and other step-family challenges. Constantly slogging through step family problems can lead to resentment and feelings of isolation, and can have a negative impact on a new intimate relationship. Successful blended family couples work hard to prevent their partnership from becoming all about the kids instead of about what brought them together in the first place; their love for each other and enjoyment of being together. The couple relationship is the glue of the blended family, and deserves attention so that the union is strong enough to make it through the ups and downs of step family life. The payoff of regular dating is not only a happier relationship for you and your blended family spouse, but it is also a good way to show your kids what it takes to have a successful relationship.
Dating is an important message
Set a specific time each week for the two of you to share together. If you can, schedule date nights for when your kids are with their other parents, but get a sitter if you have to. A set time keeps you both focused on your relationship, and reminds you both that spending time with each other is important. It also sends a great message to the kids about your adult relationship as parents. You love your kids and you also love your spouse; the relationship hierarchy in your blended family gives the adult relationship first priority. This powerful message helps support the blended family philosophy that a loving, caring and mutually respectful relationship is the foundation for family success.
Reconnect with your romance
Focus on each other. When you were falling in love, you talked about everything, taking time to learn about each other. Being married does not mean there are no more things to learn or appreciate about each other. Get caught up on what happened during the week. Use date night to remind yourself and your partner what you love and cherish about each other. Share a movie, concert, dinner, take a walk; when you get home, make love. When you are emotionally and physically connected to your partner, life is more enjoyable and problems seem easier to deal with.
On your date night, never talk about issues with the kids, your ex-spouses, or rehash unresolved problems at home. This is not to say you should never talk about those things, just that date night is neither the time nor place. Discussing ongoing conflicts will immediately kill the mood and are a big reason many blended family couples avoid date night. Date night can only work if it is focused on romance, fun, good talk, and connection.
Filed under: Blended and step family