Let’s be honest, marriage is work. And if you’re striving for a great marriage it requires intentionality. While marriage has its own unique set of challenges, the complexities that accompany that of a blended family can heighten the experience times ten. If you want your blended family to thrive these 5 Tips will give your marriage the tools to do just that!
All families consist of hierarchies, make sure your marriage plays a leading role in your blended family dynamic. Unlike most biological families, blended families consist of children at the start of the relationship. Take this as an opportunity to build a strong foundation, after all a strong family is built on a strong marriage and not built around children. Now let’s get back to that word intentional, being intentional is an integral part of building a strong marriage. Meeting one another’s needs and supporting each other is equally essential. Blended families are the result of dissolved relationships, make this an opportunity to show your children a healthy and successful marriage.
Have a united front. Whether this applies to the children or the other biological parent, take the “It’s us against the world approach.” Feeling supported by your spouse is critical as you navigate the obstacles of being in a blended family. Kids, however, tend to take the divide and conquer approach. The truth is, real people have real differences. You and your spouse aren’t the same person, you don’t share the same thoughts or perspective. Instead of aiming for perfection, aim for communication and cooperation, the ultimate united front. If you and your spouse present as a team it will significantly impact the environment your children will grow up in. Together, set the tone of your home, set boundaries, and goals.
…a strong family is built on a strong marriage and not built around children.
3. Set Boundaries.
This looks different for every blended family. In setting your boundaries, be sure to consider the specific needs of your blended family, this will ensure some level of success. Boundaries will help give your blended family a clear understanding of what the expectations are. Boundaries are not only for children, also consider the boundaries you want to set for yourself (i.e. discipline, financial responsibility). Setting boundaries with your spouse, the children, as well as for the biological parent outside of the relationship, allows for everyone to be on the same page (this isn’t always possible, but ideal). While we cannot control others, we can most certainly set the expectation.
Where is the love? This is a question I never want my children to ask. Being openly affectionate with your spouse may be uncomfortable as a stepparent, but this display of affection helps create a sense of security. Ever heard the saying actions speak louder than words? I’m not saying to openly grope your spouse in front of your stepchildren, however I do encourage loving affection. Children seeing that their parent is in a happy, loving relationship is likely to help them in the bonding process with their stepparent (after processing the dissolve of their parent’s relationship). While the effects of affection may not have an initial impact on the children it will most definitely score some major brownie points with your spouse. I mean who doesn’t like to be loved on?!
Whether you’re entering your blended family as the stepparent or the biological parent, take the time to listen and hear your spouse. First, start by trusting your spouse’s heart. If you felt confident enough in your spouse to make the serious commitment of marriage hopefully you trust they have good intentions for your marriage and family. Many conflicts can arise when blending a family, be sure to have regular and scheduled “check ins” to discuss issues as they arise. For the stepparent, you may feel that your spouse is overprotective of their children. If you aren’t careful to not take this personally you may feel isolated and as though your spouse and their children are conspiring against you. For the biological parent, you may feel that your spouse is especially sensitive and making mountains out of mole hills. Talk through the challenges. Communication wins when we begin to feel like our spouse just doesn’t get it. Remember, patience and understanding are a requisite for a peaceful and loving marriage.
Do you have any tips for blended family marriages to thrive? Drop them in the comments below.