Marriage is an institution that can provide relief, companionship and peace. However, if not properly handled it can also be a source of tension and stress. All marriages will have difficulties, but blended families presents some unique challenges and is one of the largest causes for divorce. Here are a few tips that can help divorce proof your blended family marriage.
Nurture the Marital Relationship
In the beginning, it is natural the bond between parent and child will be stronger than the one between spouses. However, in order to resolve conflict and problem solve effectively this must be reversed over time. Work to make the bond between husband and wife at least as strong as the bond between parent and child. Avoid behaviors that aren’t in the best interest of your spouse and every member of the new family unit. These include making selfish demands, being disrespectful, acting independently, or being dishonest.
Nurture Parent-Child Relationships
Allow spouses and stepkids to develop a healthy relationship. This includes spending time together, but also respecting each other’s authority and wishes. Parents should be in agreement on child rearing issues so the children won’t think you will always “take their side” against their new stepparent. Whenever possible discuss child-rearing conflicts out of earshot from the children and then present a united solution. Make an effort to reassure the children that both parent and stepparent have the child’s best interests at heart and then act accordingly.
Despite the strength of any relationship, conflicts will happen. Be prepared for these conflicts ahead of time. Resolve to communicate calmly and come to agreement before taking action. If the conflict seems to be escalating, take a break and agree to come back to the problem later.
Seek Professional Help
Despite everyone’s best efforts, there may be times when we cannot solve problems or they have already become too drastic to repair on our own. Be able to recognize those times and seek outside help when needed. Whether that help is from a religious leader or in the form of marriage counseling Kalamazoo, a fresh set of eyes and ears can usually provide new perspective and aid in problem solving.
Blending a family presents challenges and conflicts that must be solved. Successful lifetime marriages must be built and enthusiastically worked for. By working together with a few key principles in mind, parents of a blended family can divorce proof their marriage and have a stronger home.
Marlena Stoddard writes on parenting and relationships. Originally from Senoia, GA, Marlena lives in Santa Rosa, CA with her husband and two children. Marlena grew up in a blended family, and saw firsthand the challenges of joining two different families with different cultures and backgrounds. For more on Marlena, you can follow her on Google+.