Step families can be stressful at times
Managing a blended family household can be stressful, time-consuming, riddled with conflict, and ultimately not very conducive to marital bliss. The happiness boost which follows marriage generally lasts about two years, allowing newlyweds the opportunity to focus on each other, enjoying and getting to know each other very well. When your remarriage includes children from a previous relationship, that special time to relish being in love, doting on each other and celebrating your passion without outside interference, is denied you. What can you do? Work at it!
Failure not an option in your new step family
When people fall in love and decide to marry, the expectation is, rightfully so, that their happiness will last forever. Even the most cynical among us do not expect failure. However, with the divorce rate in the United States at half the first marriage rate, and even higher for blended family remarriages, the threat of collapse is high. When you bring children who have already experienced painful loss due to death or divorce into a step family setting, you owe it to them to do everything you can to beat the odds of a failed second marriage. Sadly, many second marriages wither and die from a lack of effort to keep the embers of love alive.
Helping love to grow in the blended family
Realistically, if lovers are ever to get anything done, it is a good thing that the flame of love does not last longer. The passion of new love inevitably cools, and needs to mature into a caring, supportive, and compassionate companionship that can sustain a long-lasting relationship. That is not to say that your passion should be left at the wayside! It, too, needs to be nurtured!
Keeping love alive
Feeling and enjoying the passion of new love is easy to get used to; consequently, if intimacy is lost, it is not only missed, the loss can be crippling to a relationship. When the realities of step family living interfere with your opportunities – or energy – to maintain intimacy, make it a priority to find the time and place to keep your love life exciting and satisfying. Establishing a regular date night may sound trite, but committing time devoted solely to each other is a well-proven means of maintaining your special relationship.
Building blocks of lasting love
There are proven measures to protect your intimacy, even in a blended family setting. It makes sense to avert the development of an unproductive relationship, because once dissatisfaction sets in, it can sometimes be difficult to regain your former level of contentment.
- Build companionship. Make time to be together and talk, truly listening to each other; express admiration and affection.
- Be appreciative. Count your blessings and resist taking your spouse for granted. Routinely remind yourself and your partner of what you appreciate about the person you are married to.
- Be spontaneous. Variety is stimulating and rewarding, so change how you and your partner do things together to keep your relationship fresh and meaningful. Try new activities, new places, new friends. Learn new skills together.
- Touch. A pat on the back, a squeeze of the hand, a hug, an arm around the shoulder and other non-sexual shows of affection on a daily basis can go a long way toward maintaining the warmth and tenderness you value.
- Transmit positive energy. Support the values, goals and dreams your partner holds dear, and greet his or her good news with interest and delight. In order to flourish, a relationship needs more positive emotions than negative ones. Happily married couples average five times the positive verbal and emotional expressions they do for negative expressions; very unhappy couples typically display ratios of less than one to one!
- Practice random acts of kindness. Ask yourself each morning what you can do today to make your partner’s life better. Even the simplest things, like a tender good morning smile, or being playful, can enhance marital happiness and remind your blended family partner that you care.
- Share your feelings of love. Tell your partner each and every day you love them.
The loving and mutually supportive relationship you and your blended family partner share is the cornerstone of your family. Without it, your happiness, and that of your children, is at risk. Make the effort to protect and nurture your love, your intimacy, and your passion!
If these efforts are not enough to keep your blended family from excessive conflict, contact us at The Blended and Step Family Resource Center for more help. We have coaching, telecourses, book and more to help your blended and step family become more strong and successful.