After your divorce is final, you may be ready to move on and enter a new relationship. Because divorce has become so common, blending families is no longer a rare occurrence, it is a societal norm. However, many resources for divorced people fail to address complicated issues that arise when parents remarry. So, how can you prepare for a new life with a new partner?
Take your time
First and foremost, consider taking your time. Those who are too quick to enter into a new relationship may cause more stress to their family and themselves than is necessary. A divorce is a loss and you will need time to grieve the loss, as do your children.
Relations with your ex-spouse and that between your new partner and children may initially proceed smoothly, but could hit a rough patch if you decide to take the relationship to a more serious level. This may involve moving in together or getting married to your new significant other. Being sensitive to the impact of any major change is an important step for healing.
Emotional vs. practical considerations
If you are currently in a relationship and you plan to remarry, there are a number of practical and emotional considerations you should address. Parenting roles may need to be adjusted as you develop the new relationship. if both of you have come into the relationship with children, you will need to consider how to appropriately blend the families.
Step-parenting can be tough, and it can get messy when partners fail to communicate their expectations. Who will be responsible for discipline? How will the household rules change as the family is redefined? Will each child have their own room, even if some of the children are only there every other weekend?
Children’s emotions and developmental stage
Due to a child’s emotional development, forming a blended family may be easier for couples with younger children. Children 10 years of age and younger are typically more accepting of new family members. Research has shown that remarriage is typically the most challenging for young adolescents aged 10-14 years. Be sensitive to the needs of your children no matter their age and allow them to be heard.
Some children may experience feelings of jealousy about the new partner and your relationship with the step children. It is important to spend time with the kids one on one, and discuss the new dynamic. This allows for you to open the door for questions and discussion of their feelings about the change.