Blended families can have a successful, strong marriage
While newlywed couples without children normally get to use their first months, or even years, of marriage to concentrate on their marriage, couples with children in a blended family are often too consumed with the demands of their kids to spend the time building their own relationship. Balancing your time and energy between the children and your new spouse can be difficult to pull off, but it is vital to the survival of your blended family.
The squeaky wheel in your blended family
It is perfectly understandable that a young child who has been through the throes of divorce and the remarriage of a parent may demand extra and undivided attention in the unfamiliar setting of a newly blended family. The child may feel abandoned or in competition with the new step parent as his or her bio parent devotes time and energy to the new spouse. Equally, your attention to the step siblings can also feel threatening, as you attempt to establish a loving and caring relationship with your step kids. It can be difficult to balance the desires of an unhappy child and the joys and obligations of new blended family relationships; all too often, the marriage relationship gets put on a back burner. Take the time you and your partner need to protect your marriage.
The affection monitors
Adolescents have much in common with youngsters it comes to feelings of competition or fears of abandonment. While they possess the ability to verbalize better than their younger siblings, they seldom have the ability to identify or understand their feelings, or to express feelings other than anger. It is important for newly-wed parents and step parents to understand that adolescence is a developmental stage where kids are sensitive to expressions of affection and sexuality, especially by their parents. Explicit displays of affection between you and your new spouse should be made in private.
Remarriage basics in your step family
It is disturbing to read that divorce rates among first marriages is being overtaken by rising divorce rates in remarriages, especially those with children from the first relationships. If you consider the additional stressors and challenges a remarriage entails, the numbers should not be surprising. However, the good news is that with adequate information and effective communication, you and your new spouse can beat the odds. Research shows that if you are to have a strong remarriage you should be working on, or have achieved, these important goals:
- Let the past go by separating emotionally from your first marriage. Comparing your present spouse, even in a positive way, does him or her a great disservice; appreciate your new relationship for what it is, rather than for what it is not.
- Build togetherness based on shared intimacy and a shared identity as blended family leaders and step parents, while at the same time allowing your partner the autonomy to discipline his or her own children and manage a co-parenting relationship with his or her ex-spouse.
- Establish a rich and pleasurable sexual relationship, and protect it from the intrusions of family obligations. Protect the privacy you need to nurture and enjoy your relationship.
- Develop a plan to manage the inevitable crises of blended family life. House rules that support mutual respect and consideration must extend into the marriage relationship; practice effective communication skills and give weight to your marital bond. Your marriage must be a safe place where both of you can express your differences, anger, and conflict.
- Nurture and comfort each other, make good and frequent use of humor and laughter, and work hard to keep the romance of falling in love alive.
Work on your marriage. Setting aside time and energy for your spouse is vital to the survival of your relationship and the survival of your blended family. Make spending quality time with each other a priority, either by going on regular dates or by taking trips without the children. The success of your blended family is too important, to all of you, to give your marriage less than your very best efforts. For more information, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center, or sign up for blended family coaching.