If you and your spouse were previously married and then divorced, and your remarriage includes children from those relationships, the odds are against your blended family. In the United States, divorce rates are around 45 percent for first marriages, which is frightening enough; the divorce rate for a blended family is over 60 percent, rising to over 70 percent for third marriage blended families.
Invest in your relationship
How can you avoid being one of the statistics? First of all, recognize that relationships take effort. It is easy to take your partner, the one you promised to love and to cherish, for granted. You love this person and know they love you, but sometimes forget your promise to cherish. As time together passes, you fail to notice and appreciate things that were once special. You forget to take time to do the little things he or she loved for you to do. You stop having sex as often, or even let it become a routine event. You stop being grateful for every day you have together. Given the added stressors of blended family life, making sure your relationship gets the care it deserves is vital.
Communication is key in a step family
While there are many different reasons relationships fail, a lack of communication is sure to make them worse. The problem with blended family relationships is that one or both partners may feel as if they have been there, heard that, done that before, and with disastrous results. With so much on the line, it is a good idea to review good communication skills and make a commitment to use them for the betterment of your relationship.
Blended families need to talk about money
Conflicts over money management are a common complaint. Do not allow money matters be a problem Even if you keep separate bank accounts, keep a common household budget, and work at it together. If one or both of you pay or receive child support payments, keep the other informed and in the loop when changes occur or problems arise. Above all, do not keep secrets.
Talk to your spouse about annoyances
If your spouse habitually does something that annoys you, speak up. Annoyances, when pushed aside, have a tendency to build up until they reach a critical mass and erupt in a negative way. Make time to talk, even about small things, so that when you discuss important matters you do not have to first slog through or tiptoe around them. Do not allow fear of conflict over difficult subjects keep you from talking.
Talk about parenting and co-parenting issues
If you think your step kids are behaving in ways you do not support, talk it over with your partner. If your step kids speak disrespectfully to you or otherwise break house rules, speak up. Speak up to them, immediately; speak up to your spouse and ask him or her to underscore your insistence on respectful treatment.
Talk about everything
If you do not tell your spouse how you feel, you cannot expect him or her to know, understand, or care. Do not hesitate to talk about issues with either of the ex-spouses, former families-in-law, or any other subjects you think might cause confrontation. When you and your spouse practice confrontation that is not hurtful or aggressive, problems are quickly solved.
Successful communication in your step family
Before approaching your partner to discuss a tricky issue, take time to put your thoughts into words that neither attack nor place blame. Describe how a situation makes you feel rather than detailing what your partner is doing wrong. Be sure to give your partner time to listen and to respond. If your spouse feels uncomfortable talking about feelings, itmay help to read about differences between men and women, especially as they relate to communication. If you and your spouse have difficulty talking things over, try not to take it personally, and do what you can to understand his or her point of view. Look at your timing; is there a convenient or peaceful time during the day to bring up difficult issues? Ask for a specific, short commitment of time. Even the most reluctant talkers are more apt to agree to a difficult talk if they know it has a time limit.
Effective communication between the managing partners of a blended family is vital not only to the success of the blended family, it is vital to the success of their relationship. Working together, you and your spouse can manage your blended family and your marriage.