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Good Fences Make Great Neighbors: Boundaries After Remarriage

After a divorce with children, your landscape begins to become much more complex with each passing year. Cohabitations, remarriages, additional children, stepchildren, and possible additional divorces can create layers of elaborate relationships. This added complexity brings along the need for additional boundaries. As in any situation, good boundaries are a foundation in a healthy family. While enacting good boundaries in a nuclear family may come as second nature, boundaries after divorce and remarriage can become more difficult to manage.

There can be an increase in complicated relationships and interactions after divorced spouses begin to move on and establish new families. This increase in family complexity requires stronger boundaries and greater boundary maintenance. With each new layer that is added, boundaries must be redefined. What once worked initially after the separation or divorce, is likely no longer going to be sufficient years down the road.

Ron Hammon and Paul Cheney; Remarriage and Stepfamilies.

These newly formed families, relationships and changed interactions after divorce do often cause boundary issues. The issues may surface due to unresolved anger, guilt, resentment or a hesitation to move forward in a new direction. The need to redefined boundaries is due to the fact that each family unit now has a new focus and agenda. The heart of each new home is dependent on the stability and direction that the adults create. Creating boundaries to reduce outside forces from interfering or causing conflict is a necessity for the individual family units. With additional complexities or areas of involvement, such as with multiple ex-partners or legal difficulties, having clear and concise boundaries provides greater emotional stability for everyone in the home.

Typically newly enacted boundaries can cause issues for the simple fact that change can be difficult. If previous habits were years in the making, changes to the status quo may be initially challenged. Identifying those potential challenges and planning for them ahead of time can help with the transition period.

Creating boundaries for your family after your divorce or remarriage is not easy, but it is a necessity for everyone involved. The first step is identifying your needs and the level of detachment or cooperation that works best for you. Remember that this is an ongoing process and not something that can be changed overnight. As with all relationships, there will be cycles of ups and downs, but persistence is the key to creating healthy and stable interactions.

Reference: Ron Hammon and Paul Cheney, Remarriage and Stepfamilies.

Good Fences Make Great Neighbors: Boundaries After Remarriage

Amy Bellows, PhD

Amy Bellows holds a PhD in Psychology and has had the opportunity to work in various settings including leading adolescent group therapy sessions, working with victims of sexual assault, helping woman inmates adjust to post-prison life, conducting parenting education classes and assisting with drug and alcohol dependency treatment plans. The unique challenges and opportunities that come along with being a part of a step-family is a special interest of hers. Amy is currently working in the corporate environment with a interest in group dynamics and change management. You can find her on her website, or on Twitter @AmyBellowsPhD.

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APA Reference
Bellows, A. (2015). Good Fences Make Great Neighbors: Boundaries After Remarriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Dec 2015
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