Articles for Married Couples

Everything listed under: remarriage

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    Building a Brilliantly Blended Family

    Any couple involved in a remarriage can tell you there are definitely some complicating factors. 

    Extended family is even more extended. There are typically at least three people involved in parenting decisions, if not more. Visitation with the other parent involves consulting more schedules, and co-parenting is often complicated. 

    Here are some blended family facts from Pew research and others:

    • 42% of adults (102 million) have a steprelationship, and when you add the 11.6 million stepchildren in the U.S. (16% of all kids), an estimated 113.6 million Americans have stepkin.
    • 52% of married/cohabiting couples with at least one living parent (or parent-in-law) and at least one adult child have a stepkin relationship.
    • 52% of “sandwich” generation couples have at least one stepparent or stepchild. 
    • The percentage is even higher for younger households, with 62% of married/cohabiting couples under age 55 having at least one stepkin relationship in the three generations.
    • 4 in 10 new marriages involve remarriage.

    In many instances, children find themselves trying to navigate two worlds, attempting to understand why they have to follow different sets of rules at each house. Sometimes parents talk badly about the other parent in front of their children. It can very quickly become confusing and complicated for the children.

    “Parents have to remember and accept the fact that while they can end a marriage to someone, they will never stop being parents,” said Ron Deal, speaker and author of The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family

    “While you may be relieved to be out of the marriage, your children have been in a transitional crisis. How well they recover from that crisis has a lot to do with you. The key to successful co-parenting is separating the dissolution of your marriage from the parental responsibilities that remain.”

    Deal says that children can successfully adjust to the ending of their parents’ marriage and can fare reasonably well if: 

    • the parents are able to bring their marital relationship to an end without excessive conflict;
    • children are not put into the middle of whatever conflicts exist; and
    • there is a commitment from parents to cooperate regarding the children’s material, physical, educational and emotional welfare.

    “I do realize that many ex-spouses have great difficulty cooperating about anything, let alone the nurture and discipline of their children,” Deal said. “That does not absolve you of the responsibility to try. Your children deserve your best effort.”

    Although blending two families together comes with plenty of challenges, Deal wants to give stepfamilies the keys to unlocking some of the most difficult struggles they face. That’s why he’s coming to Chattanooga this month.

    At Building a Brilliantly Blended Family on January 26 from 9 a.m. to noon, Deal will answer some of the most common questions stepfamilies have, such as:

    • Should we develop new family traditions together? 
    • Are my boundaries and influence different as a stepparent?
    • How do I make sure no one feels left out or unheard?
    • What about dealing with ex-spouses? Are there dos and don’ts?
    • Sometimes, our “blended family” feels awkward. Will it ever feel normal?
    • Our marriage often takes a backseat to figuring out the stepparent dynamic. How can we stay connected?

    Your blended family can benefit from hearing Deal, no matter what season you find yourself in. If you want to develop a game plan to build connection and intimacy at home while keeping your marriage strong, start by registering now!

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    10 Tips to Help Blended Families

    Remarrying with children often creates a complex dynamic. Expectations may not be clear and people aren’t sure how to behave. Ex-spouses and their new spouse impact what happens in your household. Is it any surprise that all of this creates stress and conflict in relationships?

    “Most couples enter into remarriage with a tremendous amount of expectation and hope,” says Ron Deal, author of The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family. “They are filled with hope, expecting positive things and are well-intentioned, yet in most instances, they are naïve about the trip they are about to take.”

    Believe it or not, transitioning into a stepfamily requires some prep work. If you are embarking on this journey, Deal's recommendations can help you out.

    • Nurture your marriage and learn to communicate well. According to a study of more than 50,000 stepfamily couples, maintaining fun in marriage is the number five predictor of a high-quality stepcouple relationship. Good communication and conflict resolution skills were the number two and three predictors of successful remarriages.
    • Keep perspective. This is new for everyone, so expect to feel lost. Seek understanding and don’t force people to blend, because it takes time. It may even take years for your family to really unite, but it's better than causing a lot of frustration by moving too quickly. Be patient with the process and have a “slow-cooker” mentality.
    • Talk with others. Before you begin, you might want to educate yourself about stepfamily living. Also, ask other stepfamilies about their experiences and the things that caught them by surprise. Find out how they handled the early days.
    • Help the kids. When appropriate, encourage biological parents to consistently spend one-on-one time with each child. Since this is also foreign territory for children, prepare them to expect a variety of feelings and encourage them to talk about it. Discuss what to call one another (e.g., stepdad or “George”) and decide how to introduce one another in public. Understand that kids may have different names/terms for stepfamily members depending on who’s in the room. For example, they may call a stepfather “Daddy” unless their biological dad is physically present until relationships stabilize. Don’t pressure kids to use labels that make you comfortable; try to follow their lead.
    • Traditions matter. For sure, keep some old ones (for the kids), but also create a new one in your first year. If you want to help form the missing family identity in your home, put intentional thought and effort into creating that new family tradition. Traditions tell us who we are and where we belong.
    • Be a team. It's helpful if parents and stepparents can seek consensus in household rules and how to cooperate. Have lots of parenting meetings. In the first year, it's a great idea for stepparents to focus on building relationships with the children. Be sure to move at their pace, not yours.
    • Anticipate bumps in the road. Stepfamily life can be challenging, so don’t expect perfection. Try not to overreact.
    • Keep your visitation schedule predictable. Give children continued access to the other home. Forcing kids to lose time with the other household will inadvertently invite kids to resent your relationship. Stepparents need to communicate a “no threat” message to the other biological parent. They need to know that you understand your role as a new person in their life who will never try to replace them. This message helps the other parent not to feel intimidated by your involvement with their children. Hopefully, it will also increase their openness to your role as stepparent.
    • Stay connected. Try to maintain old friendships and social connections. If necessary, reconnect to church and a family of faith. Find a mentor to help you through your first year or join a group where you can find tools and encouragement.
    • Take the Couple Checkup. The checkup provides an accurate view of your relationship and gives suggestions for strengthening your marriage. It not only tells you where you are and helps you decide where you want to go, but it gives you directions to get there. You can access the Couple Checkup and other resources at Smart Step Families.


    For more insight on parenting, download our E-book "10 Tips for Blended Families". Download Here