Blended families… they’re pretty common these days. 1/2 of marriages end in divorce and 1/3 of all American families live in a blended family. This is a family where there are step-parents/children/siblings.
With 1/3 of American families being a blended family unit, it shouldn’t be so shocking to find that there are challenges these families face. However, many people are surprised by these challenges. Some couples are just not prepared for what happens and feel blind-sided by it all. And, the unfortunate thing for most of the re-marriages is that 60 percent of them will end in divorce (again).
Therefore, in order to reduce the percentage of these couples divorcing, it’s important to look at the challenges that they face.
3 Significant Reasons Blended Families End Up In Divorce
1 – Children
The biggest reasons blended families fall apart are the children themselves. The parents get so wrapped up in themselves, they don’t notice how the children are handling the entire situation. It’s one thing to date a person with children (whether or not you have children yourself); but marriage, that’s a whole new ball game.
To kids, marriage means they have to “deal with” the new parent forever and it means that their biological parents won’t reunite. Often it isn’t until one of their parents get remarried that they truly believe that their parents breakup is forever. Also, dating doesn’t necessarily mean bringing the family under one roof; marriage does. And, that can be a difficult thing for the children. Children have a much harder time dealing with a parent’s marriage than parents give them credit for.
Talk to your children before you get married. Ask them how they feel about it, and what will happen after the marriage. Allow them to express their concerns and really listen to what they have to say. It’s not that you can’t get married without their blessing, but if they are somehow a part of bringing the new member into the family, they are more likely going to get along. Sometimes their requests may be impossible, but sometimes you would be surprised at how minimal their requests might be.
2 – Your Ex
One of the most often overlooked challenges is the ex. When you divorce, the last thing you want to deal with is your ex. If you have children with them, you need to deal with them, especially if you want the new marriage to survive. You have to “suck it up” and work with your ex to co-parent your children.
Co-parenting your children makes them feel secure and gives them stability in their lives. When you don’t have the help of your ex, it can put stress on the kids as well as the new marriage. It can also give the kids a way to put a wedge between you and your new spouse. If the kids complain enough, the ex will often get territorial and “protect” their kids against your new spouse. Reminding your ex that they may one day get remarried might help them to be more on board with creating a united front. Not to mention how harmful it is for kids to come to the understanding that they have power in your parenting.
3 – Finances
Financial baggage can be detrimental to a new relationship. You may not even realize you have financial baggage. However, if your previous relationship had financial problems, you may have them again in this one. You may not be able to trust your spouse because of baggage you have from your previous marriage. It can also happen when two established people come together.
If you are marrying someone else with kids, in order to successfully bring your families together, you must do one thing above all else – communicate with each other. Talk to your spouse and talk to the children so that everybody understands what’s about to happen, what family rules will change, and what rules will stay the same. If you must, seek outside professional assistance to help prepare for the changes that are soon to happen. A therapist can help you to prepare for the conversation with the kids, give you a heads up on issues that might arise, and help you build a solid structure so that you both can withstand that hardships of being a blended family.
If you are looking for a family therapist in Long Beach, Lakewood or the surrounding areas, please give me a call to ask me a question or to set up an appointment. I can work with you and your partner on increasing the chances your blended family will have a happily ever after.