Remarriage And Blending Your Family Into One

Written by Karli Steenkamp

Finding a second chance on love is a dream come true. However it can turn into a nightmare before your honeymoon starts, especially if children are involved. Blended families can be complex. A blended family is when one adult has a child from a previous relationship or both. It can be a challenge to get everyone to get along, but many couples have found the right balance to make it a success. It will take patience and endurance. You and your partner need to take a few things into consideration on how to make this work and to support one another. There are many things to think about and to keep in mind. 

Challenges of Blended families: 

  • Living arrangements
    The living arrangements will be one of the biggest obstacles you and your partner will have to overcome. Whether you have children that stay with you permanently or only certain times of the week, this will take some consideration. The children will either move into a new house or have their house invaded by other people. This occurrence has an enormous impact on their lives. For years they have had their own way of doing things, their own rules and routines and they know that this most likely will change as well as their position in the family. They might now suddenly be the oldest or youngest or even that feared middle child. 

There are a few ways to make this transition a little smoother. Ensure that each family member has their special space. This will make them feel like they belong; it doesn’t matter if they are there 7 days a week or one. Embrace everyone’s differences. Come up with about two – more than that can be overwhelming – rules together as a family, by getting everyone’s input. 

Set clear expectations about how you both expect them to behave.  

  • Getting to know one another better 

Everyone met each other and knows each other by the time you move in together. But moving in means it is a permanent arrangement and there can be a few conflicting emotions from the children’s side. To try and make the transition a little easier, set up a family tradition that everyone enjoys, like a board game or movie night. This is fun and will help everyone relax. Make sure each child feels loved and valued.

It can help to spend quality time alone with your partner’s child, without your own children. Children might feel like you are trying to replace the parent not living with you. It is important that you tell that child that you will never replace that parent as they also play a special role in their lives and you want a complete different role in their life. They might even feel guilty if they like or love you or even if they don’t. They will need reassurance through these phases and you and your partner will need patience as the children works through these emotions.   

Supporting each other 

The divorce rate amongst remarriage couples is higher than the normal divorce rate. Many couples expect things to settle quickly and give up too soon when it gets hard. However this is not an easy road, but both of you need to support one another. It is important that neither of you ever bad mouth the ex-partner(s) before the children as this will cause them to pick sides.   

As the ‘other’ parent it is important that you first build a strong relationship with the child of your partner before you try and discipline them. Leave the disciplining to the biological parent, but support your partner so that the children can see both of you are on the same side. It can even help to speak to the ex-partner and explain that you regard his or her special role in the child’s life and don’t want to replace them. 

You and your partner needs time apart from all the madness now and then to regroup and rekindle the love flame. A good balance between being there for the children and each other is much need.  

Through this process of blending your families into one and making a new special family, you need to be realistic about your expectations and know that there is no short-cut. Look after each other as a couple, otherwise all the drama was for nothing. These new relationships will take time; it can take a couple of years for everyone to settle into their role in the family. If you and your partner feel that no tactics are working it might be necessary to seek professional help from a therapist.

Australia Counselling can provide details of a therapist best suited for your needs. Stepfamilies Australia also has a few resources worth looking at. Let the relationships take its natural course. There is no easy way and can be a rocky road but it will be all worth it in the end. 

Reference: 

Stepfamily: Lisa & John Zeleznikow
Australia Counselling: Blended Families – The challenges with stepfamilies
AIPC Article Library
Parent line
The West: How blended families can work