5 Ways To Keep The Peace In Your Blended Family
Copyright (c) 2010 Lucille Uttermohlen
We have all heard the old saw that if you marry your bride, you are marrying her whole family. For a divorced person, the axiom should be if you marry a new man or woman, you are marrying their children as well. After all, there will be visitation and child support to consider if the kids are young, and family occasions and events to tackle if they are already grown. Either way, the adjustment can be stressful and difficult.
There are things you can do to try to ease the tension. They aren’t always easy, but they could pay off in the long run. Here are 5 suggestions:
1. Introduce yourself to the ex-spouse. Try to meet in a comfortable environment and talk openly about your situation. You don’t have to justify your attachment to your new lover. You should, however listen patiently to what the first spouse has to say. You will appear much less threatening if you take the position early on that you don’t see your relationship with your new lover as a bad judgment against his ex.
2. Don’t try to rush his kids into your lives together. They are struggling with the fact that their parents are not going to get back together. This may not be as true for children whose parents have been apart for a long time. But, if they are newly separated, the kids may not have adjusted, and your presence may seem like an intrusion, and a distraction from their hopes to reunite their mother and father. Even good intentions won’t make you an automatic member of their family circle. You will have better luck winning their trust if you give them time to adjust to you gradually.
If you take it slowly and give them time to adjust, they will be more likely to accept your presence. In fact, with a little space, the kids of the previous marriage may even be able to see you as a positive addition to their family circle.
3. Stay out of family fights. If the kids are angry with each other, try not to take sides. Even if it is obvious who is right and who isn’t, you will only make an enemy if you choose between them. Siblings will likely forgive each other eventually. However, the one who received your disapproval will remember you in a negative light even when the original controversy is forgotten.
4. Treat your lover’s ex with courtesy and respect, no matter how hostile you feel. Your lover may have told you what a jerk he is, or how rude and unreasonable she can be, and it may be true. However, throwing gasoline on the fire isn’t going to lessen the stress. Bear in mind, you have only heard your lover’s side of the story. Unless she is a saint, it isn’t likely to be the whole truth. Even if it is, and the ex is a louse, making your feelings obvious isn’t going to make things easier for you, your lover, or his kids. Develop a cordial working relationship with the ex, and you are bound to make interactions between everyone in the family a lot easier.
5. If your lover’s kids are small, help her obey the court’s order. Don’t encourage her to withhold visitation or skip paying child support. Treat his obligations to his ex as a business debt that has to be managed. It wouldn’t do you any good to call your credit card company up and tell the person who answers how the company is bleeding you dry. It won’t help if you remind your partner’s ex how much her kids are costing you, or that they act like little ungrateful brats when they visit.
Divorce is not over once the decree is entered. A judge can rule on the parties’ legal issues, but he can not make friends out of enemies, or mature adults from childish ones. A new person is stuck with the situation as she finds it, and there is very little she can do to change things. She can, however, make things less tense if she moves slowly and doesn’t let her own feelings interfere with her involvement in the family’s new dynamics.
Lucille Uttermohlen Do you have a legal question? Are you looking for an answer to an important relationship concern? Ask The Law Lady. For a prompt answer, write to firstname.lastname@example.org Or read about legal and relationship issues at http://www.couple-or-not.com