There is no way around it. The divorce rate for remarriages is 60 percent, compared to 50 percent for first marriages. The majority of which fall apart within two or three years of the wedding, leaving an estimated half-million children to cope with yet another split-up. Those statistics simply take my breath away. Even with these stunning statistics people still seem to think that building a stepfamily is just as easy, or should be anyway, as building a nuclear family.
Unfortunately, in new stepfamilies, many folks are in denial about the fact that stepfamilies just don’t and can’t work like a nuclear family. When problems arise, they decide to ignore them and go on as if those issues don’t exist; doing their best to avoid potential pitfalls that they feel will put strain on their remarriages. Why is this? Let’s face it, most couples remarry before they are emotionally ready. Some do it out of what I call the “rebound effect,” and others simply don’t want to be alone after divorce. Instead of giving themselves an ample amount of time after their divorce to heal mentally, physically (because divorce can take a physical toll) and emotionally, they choose to jump right from the frying pan and into the fire!
One saying that I love to refer to with my clients when we are discussing stepfamily issues they are and/or have been experiencing is this…”the best time to work out issues that you are experiencing is BEFORE you say I DO, not AFTER.” I say this because most issues within a stepfamily don’t just magically decide to present themselves after the wedding ceremony. More than likely, they are present before, during and after the couple says “I Do.”
Each spouse coming into a remarriage, and the children as well, are going to have different perspectives on how their roles should be perceived and how they should work going into it. As such, each individual is also going to have their own separate expectations as well. All of which can collide and cause chaos within the unit if not properly discussed and resolved ahead of time. Granted, you aren’t going to discuss every potential family issue that may arise but the obvious issues can be discussed and quite frankly should be. For example: discipline, structure, rules, respect, etc. Pre-marital counseling or coaching with an experienced stepfamily coach also can help a great deal in understanding the different dynamics that go into a stepfamily and also allows you to prepare yourself with the necessary skill set that it takes to have a satisfying stepfamily experience.
Remember, remarriages can be great marriages. However, with all of the complexities involved it can become hard to avoid the pitfalls that couples experience due to the stress of forging new relationships within the unit (i.e., stepchildren, ex-spouses, etc.). It actually can become overwhelming because we, as humans, tend to not learn from our prior mistakes and we repeat them. If we choose to first heal from the past, examine and unpack our “baggage” and take the lessons that we learned from our prior marriage and turn them into stepping stones for a new, healthy and meaningful relationship, we can then no longer worry about jumping from the frying pan to the fryer!
Lastly readers, it is a proven statistic that in remarriages that it sometimes takes more than 7 years for a stepfamily to really meld together. So, your real honeymoon period may not start for a long time. It is very hard to balance the needs and feelings of everyone at the same time, but I promise you, when you get to that honeymoon period, it will be well worth the wait!
Peace & Blessings,