Second Marriage Jitters

Second Marriage Jitters

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The Birds, the Bees, and Blended Families

Dear Dr. Weiss-Wisdom

My boyfriend and I are both divorced with children. We want to get married but we’re nervous about how to make it work. We both had terrible marriages the first go around. Now things will be even more challenging with the complication of blending our families. What are some things that we can do that will increase our odds for success?

Advertisement: If you ever need any help with fixing your marriage, I would suggest you take a look at this video (opens in a new tab):

The ultimate couples guide to a perfect marriage by Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

– Nervous to wed again

Dear Nervous,

Your concern is understandable. At least 60% of all second marriages end in divorce, so in my opinion, you both are well advised to look before you leap. The good news is that plenty of divorced people move on to have happy, successful marriages. Excellent research done over the last couple of decades has identified the key factors to what makes marriages succeed or fail. Generally successful couples:

• Identify problems early and tend to them;

• They learn to bring up problems gently and without blame;

• They accept influence from each other as equal partners;

• They set high standards for how they want to be treated before they marry;

• And they focus more on the bright side of the relationship and try to cultivate that.

It’s true that blending your families poses greater challenges than the average marriage. But, it also can offer even greater rewards. And by the way, couples that do pre-marital counseling are less likely to get divorced. Here are some cliff notes for creating healthy blended families followed with some reading recommendations.

? Make sure that you and your partner share the same basic values when it comes to parenting, money, and lifestyle. For an extreme example, if the prospective partner believes strongly in corporal punishment and you don’t, you’ll want to know that going in. Having a unified parenting approach with all the children in the family is an important ingredient in blended families.

? Start talking with your children about the idea of blending your families long before the marriage. Do lots of listening and include them in the wedding.

? Keep your expectations low. Most blended families take approximately two to seven years to integrate; spending quality time together, making memories and allowing bonding to happen naturally, is the best way to go. Try to pace the children giving them the time that they need to adjust to the new situation. It doesn’t usually work to push the children into creating relationships.

? Flexibility, tolerance, forgiveness, and openness are especially important in blended families.

? Strengthening and tending to your marriage is as important as any other aspect of your family if not more important. The marriage is the foundation of your family and it benefits everyone if it is strong and flourishing

Recommended Reading:

‘The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the World’s Foremost Relationship Expert’ by John M. Gottman

‘Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts’ by Lee and Leslie Parrot

‘Stepcoupling: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today’s Blended Family’ by Susan Wisdom (no relation ?) and Jennifer Green.

Diana Weiss-Wisdom, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist (psy#2476) in private practice. Her office is located on Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road, just off of Carmel Valley Road in Rancho Santa Fe.

(858) 259-0146 or drdianaweiss-wisdom.com

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