Blended Family Blues!
My wife and I married four months ago and are trying very hard to blend two households. She has two daughters from her first marriage and I have a daughter from my first marriage. My wife has full custody of her children and I have a shared parenting agreement with my ex-wife. Needless to say our house has been crazy dealing with the children and our exes. My wife and her ex do not get along well and he has issues with me helping to raise his daughters. My ex and I get along pretty well and that seems to infuriate my wife. She doesn’t like us talking or dealing with each other outside of her presence. It seems like she wants me to hate my ex-wife like she hates her ex-husband. I am not sure what to do about this. I love my wife; I love my daughter and my stepdaughters and don’t want this to negatively affect the children. My ex-wife and I have just learned to get along for the sake of our daughter. I just wish that we could all get along like Will Smith and his blended family.
Can’t we All Just Get Along
Dear Get Along:
Managing relationships within a blended family can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be! While everyone may not be Will and Jada Smith, I think there are some common courtesy rules that can help set the tone for these new relationships. First and foremost, recognize the importance of the children and their need to have quality, loving relationships with both of their natural parents whenever possible, regardless of whom is married to whom. This means no bad mouthing parents or having what should be “closed-door discussions” in their presence. Second, respect is a must. Your ex-spouses must respect your new union. You and your wife have to have respect for each other and try to maintain decent relationships with your exes for the sake of the children, but these relationships should not be allowed to affect your union. I think your wife should be glad that you and your ex can get along, especially since she knows the stress of her own relationship with her ex. But as a woman and a new wife, I can understand how this might feel a little threatening. You must remain mindful of your wife’s feelings as well and help her to be comfortable with the relationship with your ex, which brings me to my final common courtesy rule, there must be boundaries. While you can maintain a relationship with your ex, there must be boundaries to that relationship that take into consideration your wife and her feelings. This goes for her ex as well. He cannot try to dictate your relationship with your wife and their children or what goes on in your household. It would be nice if the four of you could sit down and establish some boundaries together, but if that is not possible, you and your wife need to be on the same page at all times.
I have coached several individuals dealing with blended family situations and I too have a blended family, so parenting advice and step parenting advice is close to my heart! I know first-hand that these relationships, like any other relationship, require lots of love, work, patience, and understanding. There must also be open and honest communication.
Tamara Hartley is Your Advice Guru and author of REAL Advice from REAL Experience: Advice, Tips and Strategies for Your Life, Relationships, and Career. She uses her personal life experiences and lessons learned to give others a different perspective and help them make critical decisions in their life, relationships and careers. She is also a personal success coach and works with individuals to find balance, make moves, and live their dreams. Email questions to advice@YourAdviceGuru.com. Follow Tamara on Twitter @DrTamaraHartley. Learn more about her coaching programs at www.YourPersonalSuccessCoach.com.