Face it; blended family success rates are struggling to keep up with the failure rates. Second marriages end in divorce at an even higher rate than first marriages do! The last thing you want for your blended family is another loss to pile on top of the one that already hurt you and your children. How can we avoid repeating the same disillusionment and pain? Faith, hope, and lots of hard work!

These tips may help you and your blended family partner keep from falling into those couple traps that lead to poor relationship dynamics.

Give your relationship the respect it deserves

Always keep the success of your marriage as the focus of your life together, so the relationship itself can grow and become stronger. If you think that shifting your main focus away from your spouse and onto the children will help the situation, you do everyone a disservice. Your strong relationship is the glue that keeps your blended family together! Work together in a conscious effort to build a relationship of mutual respect and understanding. Conflicts will certainly arise, but they do not have to be damaging. Have faith in your partner and know you can work it out.

Be safe

Create a communication safety zone to protect your relationship. This means that no matter what one person says in anger, you both agree that your marriage and your relationship will stay secure. If one of you is hesitant to speak their mind for fear of reaction or threats of divorce, your safety zone has been breached. Because no couple agrees on all things at all times, it is important to know you can state your mind without dire consequences or without wishing you had never spoken up!

Fight fair

The first rule of fair fighting is, of course, no physical violence – ever. The second rule is, fight only about the subject at hand, without dragging out other complaints, too. Keeping things as cool as possible is always a good goal, and throwing new and old issues around like darts is never cool. Never use a specific vulnerability against your partner. This means no allusions to hurtful past experiences, emotional or physical weaknesses, or personal fears. Never hurt your partner intentionally, no name-calling, no attacking, and no screaming. If scoring points in an everlasting battle over who is right and who is wrong becomes the usual mode of interaction, your relationship suffers, perhaps terminally.

Forget about the small stuff

Learn how to distinguish between big problems and little ones. In the category of big problems you will tend to see things like health, financial security, welfare of the children, fidelity, and such. Talk it over, and decide what is really important to you as a couple, important to you as step parents, and important to you as human beings. If you define what is really important, the rest of it all becomes small stuff. Life has stresses and strains, and so what? Fighting over the small stuff is a waste of time, and a waste of a caring relationship. For more information, visit The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.