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Published April 08, 2012, 11:30 PM

Critical mistakes to avoid in blending a new family

According to the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, 50 percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second and 74 percent of third marriages end in divorce.

By: Jeff Herring and Maritza Parra, McClatchy-Tribune, INFORUM

According to the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, 50 percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second and 74 percent of third marriages end in divorce. As we’ve been blending our family, we were surprised that though there are blended or stepfamilies everywhere, there are very few institutions that lend support or give importance to this type of family.

Here are the top three mistakes we see people make when trying to blend a new family and what to do instead.

• Not setting boundaries for your new family. When we got married and moved into Jeff’s home, his ex-wife came over one day unannounced. She simply opened the door and let herself into our home. This is just one small example of the lack of boundaries in their relationship.Many times the new person in an old family dynamic needs to be aware of the boundaries within the old family. That way, you and your new spouse can set new expectations before events occur.

What to do instead: Be sure to talk about different scenarios before they occur.

• Keeping your children as the center of your life. We know we may get a lot of pushback on this one. If you want to have a successful marriage, you and your partner must be in the center, not your children. After divorce, you may have made your children the center of your life and given in on all kinds of things out of guilt. This is not the time to give into guilt or manipulation.

What to do instead: Make your new marriage the center. You have a new opportunity to create a life with a real partner. You don’t want to fight with each other; now you should be fighting for each other.

• Going it alone. When you decide to become a blended family, you’ll have all kind of fantasies of how wonderful it will be. And if you do it right, there will be wonderful times ahead, but let us warn you that it will not be easy. Be sure that even if everyone gets along while you’re dating, once you decide to marry, issues will come up.

What to do instead: As you know you’ll be blending your family, find a source of support. There are different websites with great strategies and advice. We found http://BlendedFamilyAdvice.com after we were married and it really helped our new marriage.

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