Second, third, and more marriages are part of life in this country. Alesha Thomas of Business Innovators Magazine shows us the statistics and the challenge:
According to the American Psychological Association, 40%–50% of all first marriages in the United States end in divorce. The rate of divorce in remarriages is even higher, at approximately 75%. Experts predict that this growing trend will result in the “blended family” becoming the predominant family structure in the United States.
How does this trend affect families?
This type of family structure comes with a unique set of challenges that traditional marriage counseling and training may not address.
As blended families increase in number, we can see that the children from each past marriage go on to have a major impact on a new marriage.
Whether the “children” are adults, teenagers, children, or much younger, they all cause challenges and add a new flavor to a marriage.
If they will not accept their mom or dad’s new spouse, that situation dramatically increases the odds that a new marriage may not survive.
The blended family system is complicated
But today many marriages have children from more than one father and mother. The resulting family system is indeed complicated.
Shocking? The facts are in. I’ve been in a blended family and have learned four key ways to navigate the challenges for a hopeful outcome.
Here are tips for parents and step-parents with reinvented solutions
1. Accept the challenge
You married for love, and now you have some new opportunities to love your spouse’s offspring. Keep your focus in the present. Keep the reasons why you married, out in front of you as a daily reminder of why you said: “I do.”
Remember why you chose this special person to live happily ever after. It is easy to lose sight of the big picture and get tangled up in the small stuff, most of which you cannot change.
2. Realize that the children are a part of your partner
You married the children’s father or mother, and the same DNA is in your new spouse’s children.
Each of the children has redeeming qualities. Find those qualities and focus on them.
That task may not be easy, but “easy” is not always the best road to follow.
If there have been several marriages and children from several spouses, the situation may be more complicated. But the idea is much the same. Your task is to accept the things you cannot change.
Simply realize that the children are a part of your partner (a whole person). You cannot control this part.
3. Be a team player
Children always do better when there is cooperation, flexibility, openness, and respect in their lives.
Keep the issues about your spouse’s ex and the new step-children to yourself.
4. Be open to seeing a new way
Remember that we are all different, and the family you are joining may have done things a certain way in the past that continues to influence both your spouse and the children.
Be open to seeing a new way and learning about others’ personality styles, conflict resolution approaches, and methods of bonding. Knowledge is the key to understanding.
We cannot understand without the facts. It is okay to be inquisitive and ask questions about the way things were, so you can get a perspective on the way things might have to be in the present.
5. Be goal-oriented
Make it happen. Don’t just talk—walk the walk. Get out there and be proactive. Try new ways, always with love, and if these ways fail—look for other options.
These tips are not magic.
But I can assure you, as a marriage counselor, wife, mother, and step-mother, that trying these tips will make things better. Yes, there are painful situations that go way beyond these small tips, but this is a beginning.
What do you have to lose by implementing this plan right now?
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Barbara Peters