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The Vishers are experts in helping stepfamilies come together. They suggest that remarried couples should:
1) nurture the couple relationship so that the new marriage will survive and thrive
2) find person space and time to relax and unwind from the challenges of a stepfamily
3) nurture family relationships by spending time with each of the new family members
4) maintain a close parent-child relationship
5) focus on the stepparent-stepchild relationship
6) build family trust
7) stengthen stepfamily ties through a family discussion every week or two
8) work at keeping the bridges open to the children's other household so that co-parenting can work smoothly
Before remarrying many individuals are a little hesitant to remarry and rightly so. It is important that individuals look at the potential red flags of the person they are considering marrying. Unfortunately, too many people remarry a second time without getting a clear understanding of who are they are marrying. Therefore, I suggest that before remarriage individuals take a second look at the person they are marrying. For example, how does your potential spouse deal with stress, your children, his/her family. It is important to take time and explore how he/she treats others under pressure or stress.
Many step-parents worry about what their role should be with new step-children. Most professionals agree that the most important role that step-parents can take is the role of a friend. Step-parents who are placed in the role of decision maker for step-children early in the new marriage are being placed in a risky place. Be a friend first and let the biological parent do the disciplining. This isn't a secret it is just plain smart.
Putting two families together takes a big effort from everyone involved. It is not easy to blend two families together, but it can be done. Here are a few ideas for helping you put your family together. First, prior to marriage or soon after marriage take time on a regular basis to discuss potential problems. Second, spend some time together as a whole family (this helps create new stories). Third, establish family rules such as in this family we don't talk bad about each other, we support and lift each other up. Fourth, on a regular basis evaluate and re-evaluate what is working and what isn't working. Let everyone discuss what their feeling and thinking. Fifth, each child should have some individual time with their biological parent.
Blending a family together takes a big effort, nevertheless, it can be very rewarding to everyone involved as all family members will learn how to resolve differences.
Many remarriages start off busy. Putting two homes into one, or joining one family with another. Such events make it difficult to really enjoy the new union that has been formed. Therefore, I suggest to all newlyweds that you take time for each other. It is helpful if you plan time for each other. Then you must make sure that you carry out your plans. It is in the first few months that you will establish patterns that will last throughout your marriage.
Too many times in our society people divorce and remarry only to find that their second spouse is much like their first spouse. Fortunately, some people have learned what signs to look so they can prevent remarrying a prototype of their first spouse. What are the signs to look for in someone who won't be a good spouse? First, watch for controlling statements or actions. Second, listen to your instincts. Third, observe your potential partner in lots of settings rather than just a few (observe how he/she is around your family, his/her family, around your friends). Fourth, become friends before you take your relationship to a deep intimate level.
In order to function effectively a step-family must have and maintain the following characteristics.
1st) They must be commited to each other and be willing to make the effort necessary to create change. Many people in their second marriage have said, "if I would have worked this hard in my first marriage we would have never divorced".
2nd) Everyone in a remarriage needs to feel a sense of unity, a feeling of closeness, and they need to feel like they are part of the new family.
3rd) Effective communication and problem solving is essential skill in new families. This requires extra time and effort in trying to understand each others needs.
4th) It is essential for clear boundaries to be established. Newly remarried couples need to establish rules and roles. This includes who does the parenting of the children. What is the step-parents role. These boundaries should be discussed early and often.