Unmet expectations lead to blended family marital struggles
Having been married before does not provide much help in knowing what to expect in your blended family remarriage. To prepare for the challenges of a remarriage, many couples attend pre-marital counseling, read books and online articles about step parenting, and seek advice from friends and family. Most people who contemplate remarriage recognize that their new relationship will have its share of issues, and they appreciate that relationships need commitment and effort. Nevertheless, new marital struggles can often be attributed to unmet expectations that one or both partners carry into their remarriage.
Plain facts about blended family remarriages
One important aspect of remarriage, blended family or not, is the unspoken pressure to have a relationship that works. Couples sometimes worry about how successful their relationship appears to friends and family, which makes it difficult to ask for help if they pretend things are going more smoothly than they actually are. Step parents try to feel instant love for their step children, and bio parents worry if their kids and new spouse do not get along. Also, extended step family members often greet new spouses and their children with suspicion. Online there is a wealth of blended family advice that addresses these common issues, and many sources of quotes about blended families that can help and inspire you.
Putting the old baggage down in your step family
Often, blended family couples bring old habits along with them to their new step family. It can be easy to make assumptions about motives and overreact to disagreements when you have lost sight of who you are talking to. When people carry old baggage into a new relationship, they often argue on auto-pilot, subjecting their new partners to responses actually meant for someone else! It helps to regularly take stock of how your new partnership differs from the old.
Fair does not mean 50-50, and it hardly ever happens, anyway
Splitting everything equally may sound like fairness, but 50-50 almost never happens in a blended family. Usually, one blended family partner bears the brunt of marital, familial and financial responsibilities. A step mother may be the primary caretaker of her step child. A step father may carry the majority of household expenses, including those incurred by his step child. This type of give and take happens in most step family marriages; blended family life tends to be organic in nature, constantly adjusting to the needs of the family as it grows.
Couples may share parenting but seldom get equal recognition
The step parent who helps his or her step child with homework, attends extracurricular activities, and makes it a point to be there when their step child needs them, seldom gets acknowledgement for their efforts. Step parents rarely get the thanks they deserve. Be supportive of your spouse, and make sure they know you appreciate all they do.
Dealing with the ex-spouse of your partner
While there are many remarried couples who get along with their exes, there are just as many who make things difficult. Step parents often find themselves the objects of jealous and vicious scrutiny, scapegoats for the divorce, or for kid problems; sometimes, step parents are seen as a solution for child support issues. These stresses can be emotionally draining, and a step parent under attack from an ex-spouse needs emotional support from their spouse or from an outside source. Support groups, marriage counseling, step parenting training courses, and a sympathetic lawyer are all good resources.
A wedding can change everything
When you and their bio parent were just dating, perhaps your step kids enjoyed having you around like they would a family friend. Once you married, however, you were treated like an outsider who stands between them and their happiness. Your step children may feel they have to compete for attention; they may be upset because your marriage puts an end to hope their birth parents will get back together; they may simply be unhappy and confused at their feelings. It is important to realize their behavior is not a reflection on you as a person, but that they may still be grieving.
Simply put, the truth about blended family marriages is that they are all different, but similar, and all about hope for the future. You can do this! Seek blended family advice from The Blended and Step Family Resource Center. You and your blended family partner are not alone.