When you and your spouse decided to marry and build a blended family together, you left behind the memory of your separation and divorce, and of your previous marriage and family unit. Or did you? When we think of marriage, and about family, what naturally comes to mind is whatever experience of marriage and family we have had.After a divorce, we hope that our remarriage will look and feel different in every way. We have great expectations, about the remarriage and about how well and how easily our blended family will come together.
Expectations of the remarriage
Whatever our previous experiences with marriage, we bring expectations that our new relationship with our spouses and in our new blended family will be more successful than our past relationships. We hope that our remarriage will prove to be better, of course, more loving, more caring, more fun. And the children will certainly be much better off, and much happier now that we are both happier. Beware! This is not an automatic outcome!
Looking ahead is better than looking back
If your previous partner was not appreciative of all the things you did around the house, do you expect your new spouse to be the same, or different? Do you expect to have to remind them about the same things, explain the same feeling and issues; do you anticipate arguments and skepticism over the same subjects? Over expectations can be disappointing, but under expectations can be much more damaging. Try to see your new partner as new.
Sharing expectations by communicating
Chances are pretty good that you did not marry a mind-reader. If you want your spouse to know something important about you, something that matters, you have to say it out loud. Especially in a remarriage, we sometimes expect our new spouses already know we prefer serious greeting cards, or that we would rather eat dirt than visit for more than an hour with Aunt Harriet when it is a good day to be outside. It is really unfair for us to feel disappointed or misunderstood if our partner does not know we even have an issue with a certain situation!
And here’s a tip: Do not hint! Mind readers can use hints to probe your innermost thoughts, maybe, but we have already established that your mate is not a mind reader! Try this type of communication: “It’s such a beautiful day I’d really like to spend some time in the yard. Can we try to keep it a little short at Harriet’s today?” Or “Don’t feel you have to give me a gift for every occasion, I’d really be happy with a card that says you love me. I am a sucker for touchy-freely cards.”
As hard as you are working on managing your blended family, remember that the blended family cannot thrive if the central relationship, the parental relationship, is not thriving. Be sure to take the time to celebrate being the strong couple that you and your step family need and deserve. Choosing to focus on your own primary relationship is not choosing your spouse over your kids. It is choosing to build a base upon which you can grow as parents and step parents, for the benefit of the entire blended family. Talk it over. Communicate.