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Amy Waterman
co-author of Save My Marriage Today!

 


Blending Mixed Families
By Andrew Rusbatch

There are plenty of step families and mixed marriages living across the world, and the definition of a family can now involve step-parents, step-brothers and sisters, and half-brothers and sisters. What we now call a family is quite different from definitions of 20 years ago, and with this comes some new issues for married couples.

Children from previous relationships are now a consideration for newly married couples, and parenting roles in some cases need to be redefined. Making the transition as a step-parent is not an easy one, and consideration of a range of different perspectives is necessary.

For the first time, one partner in the relationship may have an instant family, taking responsibility of not only a partner, but also a young family. It is important at this stage that intentions and expectations are discussed, and roles are defined and created within the family.

If you are having issues with your spouse and your children, it is useful to help your partner learn and understand about child development, especially if they have not had any parenting experience before. Don't assume that all people naturally become parents.

If it is your children that you are bringing into a new relationship, it is important that you make things as easy for your partner as possible. It is in everyone's best interests to make it as easy as possible.

Encourage your partner to talk about how they feel, encourage them to ask questions, and encourage them to experiment. It is okay to have imperfections. It's okay to have questions. It's okay to be scared. How you choose to deal with those issues determines whether this is going to be a relationship problem or not.

So what more can you do to make the transition a smooth one?

Plan a future for you and your family – have dreams about a nice future for your family and talk to your partner about these dreams. You could design a common goal for both you and your partner.

Compliment the family and your partner whenever you can. Children will feel more secure when they see their parents being appreciative of each other, and of them.

The step-parent doesn't have to replace a parent. It is important that children understand that their father or mother is not being replaced. Communicate how nice it can be for a child to have step-parents in addition to existing parents.

If both partners have children from previous relationships, it is important that all children are treated fairly. While it may not seem important to adults, it is important to children that one is not seen to be getting more than the other.

Don’t forget to have some time alone together. You may go on dates now and then to keep your relationship alive. Alone time may even involve going to bed half an hour earlier to talk and connect at the end of the day.

Step-parents should discuss their roles in discipline, and be unified in their approach. Children should be clear about the household rules, and be clear about the roles within the family.

Communicate your concerns. Open communication is essential in a marriage. Make sure you are communicating clearly so that you understand each other perfectly well. Through communication you could work on the areas of disagreement. This is essential for developing a stronger bond between the partners and the children.

You have to know that no marriage sails along without a ripple, and step-children have the opportunity to add a new dimension to your marriage. Blended families can be both challenging and highly rewarding, and with clear communication and good management it can strengthen the relationship you have with your spouse.

 


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Amy Waterman
co-author of Save My Marriage Today!

 


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