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Maintaining Your Blended Family Marriage

Did you know that the divorce rate among second marriages is higher than that among first marriages? One would assume that if a person has a second chance, he or she would be sure not to mess it up. However, there are some  second marriages that breakdown under financial strain; second marriages that are torn apart by children; and second marriages that never had a chance to begin with. Then, there are those that actually do survive and eventually thrive despite the chaotic world of the blended family.  These couples work through their communication issues in order to create a marriage that is more solid than their first.

In order for your second marriage to work I believe it’s essential to consider what went wrong in your first. Many times divorcees will get on their “high horse” by insisting that their marital problems were soley their ex’s fault. However, there is hardly a divorce where fault falls exclusively on one person. Because far more challenges will present themselves in your second marriage (children, unresolved feelings, bitter ex’s, etc.), it is necessary to examine your own mistakes in the past so that you are less likely to repeat them in the future.

Nurturing Your Second Marriage

It is so very important to nurture your second marriage!!! Often times remarried couples make themselves the LAST priority by putting the problems with their respective children, exes, finances…first. Remarried couples need to spend time nurturing and building their relationship together just as any “traditional” marriage, without children, would. Schedule date nights together, and take vacations without the children, sometimes. Take every moment that you can to remember and remind each other of why you fell in love in the first place. Remember, that when the children are grown and gone, and there are no more exes to fight with, you will be left with each other. You can not grow old with your children or problems with your former spouse. As such, you shouldn’t spend ALL of your time in these areas. Of course, you have to raise, love and nurture your children. And, you have to work on resolving your issues with your former spouse so that you can co-parent effectively. But, these areas can’t take priority over your marriage. Any good marriage needs to be nurtured and loved if it’s expected to survive. Besides, taking these actions will only benefit your children because you will be building a strong, stable, loving environment in the process.

My husband and I made the mistake of putting everything before our marriage, and honestly, it almost FAILED!! At several points in our relationship we were both ready to throw in the towel. The stress of both of our children not immediately adjusting (this is a unrealistic expectation that most remarried couples have) along with dealing with the exes, almost tore our marriage apart. All of our communication, and I mean literally ALL of it, centered around the kids, his ex or my ex. Naturally, it just wasn’t good for our relationship. We didn’t put as much effort or time into our relationship as we did those other things, and it showed. We realized this one day on a rare occasion when both of our children were gone. Not only did we not know what to do with ourselves, but we began talking about…problems with the children and/or the exes. It wasn’t until my husband said, “We spend way too much time talking about our problems, let’s talk about something else.” The only problem was that we literally did not know what else to talk about. At that point, we had our light bulb moment…ding, ding, ding…WE HAD BEEN SERIOUSLY NEGLECTING OUR MARRIAGE AND THAT’S WHY WE HAD BEEN HAVING SO MANY PROBLEMS, duh!! From then on, we decided to rediscover why we fell in the love in the first place. We scheduled date nights together, even if the kids were in the house. They were not allowed to bother us during our special time. We created a standing rule that we would only talk about our problems with the exes and children if absolutely necessary. We decided that WE are the king and queen of our household, and we would ALWAYS respect each other as such; even when it came to our respective exes. Once we set this foundation our communication issues were a lot smaller than they really were.

Finances

Second time newlyweds often bring their own financial resources and obligations into their second marriages; making finances a touchy subject in second marriages. Ideally, it is always best if the couple combines everything together instead of creating the definitive boundaries of yours, mine and ours. Once you do that, you begin to see everything as yours, mine and ours; your children vs. my children; your money vs. my money; I’ll pay for this for my children vs. you pay for this for your children, and we’ll pay for this for our children. As you can see, it becomes way too complicated. As such, it is always best if you view your newly made family as a whole instead of in parts. Having said that, when it comes to each child’s respective child support; that money should be earmarked for that child, alone. For example, we do not use M’s child support money on K. M’s child support money is for taking care of his needs. Just like M never uses K’s child support money. But, the money that my husband and I make is for taking care of everybody in our household. So, when we go on vacation I don’t only pay for my child and my husband only pays for his. It is the same when we go out to dinner or buy Christmas gifts, etc.

It is important to remember that whenever one marries or remarries he or she does so in entirety, not in parts. As such, whenever possible, the remarried couple should view themselves and their family as a single unit instead of divided. It should never be a yours, mine and ours…just ours; our marriage, our children, our money, our family.


The stepmother generally has the most challenging role within the blended family. We are expected to bear most of the responsibility of running the household, yet receive less respect. Ex-wives must know that we are the ones who take care of their children when they are in our home. They so graciously allow us to feed them; take care of them when they are sick; and tuck them in at bed time. Yet, we can’t discipline them or follow our own house rules because we must follow theirs.

Often times it’s a no win situation for stepmothers. At one point in my own blended family when I saw things were getting way to tense between the ex-wife and I; I tried to take a backseat, thereby lessening the interaction with my stepson. But, when I did so, I was seen as cold and insensitive. So, then I tried to take an active role and be the good mom that I am to my biological son. It didn’t feel natural taking a backseat (where my stepson was concerned) as a parent. But, when I did that, I was seen by the ex-wife as trying to replace her. Like I said, you can’t win so why try? I finally had to realize that I just couldn’t be the one to please and/or fix everyone.

Furthermore, some ex-wives are simply not going to change. Some times I believe ex-wives want to think that second wives are horrible people as an excuse to continue bickering. I think it’s easier for them to believe that their ex-husband married an ax murderer because it makes her look like the damsel in distress. So, second wives/stepmothers need to stop trying be the only one that keeps the family together and husbands need to step up and lend more support. SW’s don’t try to create a home that is more pleasing to your stepchildren and/or their mother so that they will accept you. Instead, you and your husband need to decide upon a way to run your household in a manner that you both see as fit and the children and ex-wife are the one’s that need to adjust, not the other way around. From experience, I know that this is a difficult challenge because not only will you and the ex-wife have different views about parenting, but you and your husband may have different views as well. However, you must always, always, always realize that you and your husband are the individuals who took vows before God. Therefore it is most important that you two agree! Everyone in the blended family will not agree on everything, especially parenting, but you must focus on the two people that count and that’s you and your husband. Neither of you need to spend time trying to get the ex-wife to see it your way because this takes time away from you and your husband achieving consensus.

My hat goes off to second wives and stepmothers because they certainly aren’t given enough credit; face many battles with all members of the blended family; are blamed for everything and bear most of the responsibility of running the household. But, there is hope! Be sure to check out my blended family co-parenting tips post that should help bring some order to your blended family.

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