Creating a strong and solid marriage is an absolute necessity when dealing with the challenges of a remarriage and blended family. You need to be able to protect and nurture your relationship on a daily basis due to additional obstacles that can cause stress, anxiety and conflict.
Here are some common issues that remarried couples face and ways to work together to overcome them.
When you move into a new relationship and marriage, it can be very easy to bring in old habits such as withdrawing during conflict, defensiveness, or other negative conflict resolution methods. In a perfect world, when individuals divorce they will spend time taking a deep look into the role they played in the relationship’s demise. They will address what needs to be addressed, work through negative emotions and grow into a stronger, healthier adult. This does not always happen and bad habits or patterns they used to follow may resurface when they get into stressful situations. If you are finding that you are falling into familiar routines in your new relationship, it may be necessary to re-evaluate your divorce healing and take the time to work through any lingering feelings or concerns. Counseling, self-help books and couples sessions can be a great way to learn new communication methods and conflict resolution skills. Simply ignoring a trait or negative coping mechanism will not bring the resolution you need. It takes a lot of hard work to look at yourself, see the flaws in your actions or thinking, and change them.
Concerns with in-laws arise in all marriages, but with remarriages there is sometimes an added layer of complexity. Depending on the length of the previous marriage and how amicable the divorce was, in-laws may feel both a sadness over the divorce and a happiness for the new marriage. If a relationship still exists between the ex-spouse and the extended family, there can be concerns of loyalty as well. This is a problem that you may not be able to do much to resolve. With time, the relationships may improve significantly and if there are positive lines of communication, a talk with your in-laws about their concerns and your feelings can be a good approach. With these types of issues it’s important to recognize divorce as a sort of death for many people and at times certain individuals may take longer to grieve the change. If in-laws are causing conflict in your marriage, it’s important to protect your relationship by establishing healthy boundaries.
The area of finances may be especially difficult when children are present. Balancing the needs of different children can be challenging when there are other households involved. It’s important to come up with a plan and to discuss financial matters as a couple. Identifying a budget or spending limits ahead of time for each child can help to reduce conflict when larger expense items pop up. It also will help you to identify a way to ensure each child receives equal opportunities and coverage of expenses. If you are struggling with the finance aspect of your blended family, seeking the help of a financial adviser is recommended.
Depending on the situation, your newly blended family may have children from a previous relationship, joint children, or a mix of both. Understanding how to fulfill the needs of all of your kids, enforcing standard rules, and dealing with conflict can take a toll on your marriage. It’s important to identify the marriage as the primary relationship in the household with the realization that it is the base for the family. Identify standard rules, expectations and consequences for all of the children and work to keep them as consistent as possible. Support one another with the children and work to show a united front. Understand that there will be varying degrees of interaction and closeness between the different relationships.
The key to challenges you face in your role within your blended family is working as a team with your spouse. Open communication is important and it’s necessary to have plans in place for areas of conflict that may arise. If you are struggling with a reoccurring argument or working through conflict, couples therapy is an important next step. In fact, I would recommend couples therapy for all remarriages even if things are going well. Having a safe place to talk through disagreements and to work on bad habits will help you tremendously in the years ahead.