I was talking to a group of 3 women (all blended family wives), including myself, over the weekend about who to put first – your spouse or your children. Two of these women felt as if their children would come first, no matter what.
“I bought this house, paid my bills and took care of my kids before he came along and if anybody is ever going to leave, it’s going to be him,” they proclaimed!
These women were honest about their feelings and admitted that they might be wrong, but still said they would choose their children over their spouse in a heartbeat. Although these feelings are completely natural in a newly formed (10 years or less) blended family, I have NEVER seen or heard of a successful blended family operating in this manner. Not to mention that if your mate ever asked you to put your kids out (unless they are fully grown and therefore should be out of the house anyway), then it probably means that you chose the wrong mate.
The reality is blended families don’t fail – (re) marriages do!!! If blended families don’t learn to make their marriage a priority, then they are headed for divorce number two and that’s far more damaging to your children, then agreeing with your spouse that they should be cleaning up after themselves or agreeing with your spouse that no your ex-wife shouldn’t be allowed to wreak havoc on your marriage.
I’ve heard many people, mostly women, say that he has to take care of his kid and I have to take care of mine, but a family can’t operate in that manner. When you decide to marry or remarry someone with kids, then you can longer adopt that separatist view because what’s best for his kid might hurt yours and vice versa. You have to begin to think of his kids as your kids and your kids as his kids and do what’s best for them collectively, not individually. You simply cannot have a sense of family and togetherness if everyone is out for self. IT WILL NOT WORK!
I also believe it all directly correlates to changing your perspective on what it means to choose your spouse over your children (Maybe phrasing it as such automatically puts people on the defensive, so let’s change it to choosing your family first). It’s important to remember that you are not married to your children. You’re married to your spouse and therefore, you have to make decisions with him or her, never undermining his or her authority because it might hurt your child’s feelings or it isn’t the way you’ve always done it, when you know your way has been wrong. Don’t think of it as an act of betrayal because you are putting your marriage first. Think of it as a benefit to your children because now they have two parents in the house that are always considering their needs above their own. Let me explain, if you have chosen the right spouse, then when you put each other first, you are automatically going to consider the needs of each others’ children because that’s what parents naturally do. So, you are going to be thinking about his kids, he is going to do the same for yours and TOGETHER you’re going to think about what’s best for your FAMILY. When you do it in the reverse and focus on only YOUR children; you are going to be thinking about YOUR children, he is going to be thinking about HIS children and the last two people you are going to consider are EACH OTHER! Do you see how backwards that is?? A traditional marriage never works if both parties are selfish and it is no different in a remarriage and blended family.
Choosing the right spouse. If your husband won’t spend anytime with your kids, but he wasn’t taking care of his own before he met you, you probably chose the wrong mate. If your husband spends more time with his friends than he does with his family, you probably chose the wrong mate. If your mate is just an all around butt hole, then you probably chose the wrong mate and your co-parenting relationship, marriage and blended family probably won’t survive. Be advised that these are “I should not have married you in the first place” issues, not blended family issues. You cannot marry an immature person who wants to stay out all night or is very selfish to begin with and expect your blended family to work. Navigating through the world of the blended family is hard enough as it is. You have to start with two like-minded people are ready for marriage, commitment and family!
So, when you have chosen the right mate and decide to remarry, remember the correct order in order to guard against possible divorce. Your marriage and therefore your blended family, won’t survive if you consider each other last. Work together to create rules of the household (co-parenting policy) and to create a new norm for your new family instead of relying on what you’ve always done.