A step family paves the way for a fresh beginning in a family’s life…
A single parent can enjoy the support of another adult alongside them and their children another role model and possibly step-siblings.
Like every successful relationship, blending families requires:
The determination to succeed!
Along the path to happily ever after in a step family, there’s a number of obstacles couples must overcome. These include: navigating different parenting styles; helping stepparents feel satisfied in their new role; dealing with ex-partners and loyalty issues of feeling torn trying to keep your children and partner happy.
Unfortunately many couples don’t succeed; statistically well over 60% fail but that doesn’t have to be the case!
Here are three crucial mistakes causing step family breakup and how you can avoid them…
Mistake 1: Couples have unrealistic expectations
Don’t underestimate the impact your expectations have on the ultimate success or failure of your relationship. If you’re expecting everyone in your family to love each other in no time, or that your new partner will be a replacement parent for your child, or that you won’t experience conflict, you’re in for a rough road.
Blending is a journey, not an event. It’s about learning to accept, respect and care for each other. Researchers have identified stages that your family will progress through as you form bonds and build a sense of unity. By the final stage parents are clear on their role and solid relationships have formed. This takes on average seven years although it can be much faster if you are proactive and have realistic expectations.
Equip yourself with a thorough understanding of what is and isn’t possible in your new family
Focus on those things you have the power to change and accept those you can’t rather than fighting against unrealistic expectations.
Mistake 2: Couples escape conflict rather than exploring their way through it
Conflict and blending go hand in hand. It’s a normal part of the process as couples seek to combine different family histories and experiences. We the going gets tough, it can be tempting to retreat; go silent or avoid the issue with the hope it will go away. But not always. Others like to charge head on into battle and thrash the issue out.
While conflict is inevitable, combat is optional. The latter involves accusations and criticisms which escalate a situation rather than defuse it. Confronting a problem without the tools and strategies to resolve it, often only makes matters worse. The good news is, working through issues in a healthy manner increases understanding and brings about a deeper sense of intimacy in your relationship.
Seek to understand issues from your partner’s perspective; ask how it makes them feel
Listen without interrupting even when you think they are wrong
Tolerate disagreement with withdrawing or responding in a harsh way
Accept responsibility for your own contribution to the conflict
Form a system or planned approach to resolve issues; predetermine how you will work together when issues crop up.
Mistake 3: Couples stop nurturing their relationship
A strong couple relationship is vital for step families to succeed. This is foundation of your family and helps you cope with internal family pressure as well as those outside your family such as ex-partners. While your couple relationship brought your family together, it can be issues over the children that tear you apart. You see in a relationship prior to children, you’re focusing on how to be a good partner. When children are in the picture, you’re faced with learning about how each other chooses to parent and stepparent while juggling everyone’s needs, all at the same time!
Be intentional about meeting your partner’s needs; talk about what’s important to them.
Be kind to each other; it’s not just how you fight but how nice you are to each other when you’re not fighting that matters
Take time out as a couple to enjoy life and have fun together.
Couple who receive expert advice and support are better equipped to overcome common step family challenges and therefore more likely to succeed.
If you'd like the opportunity to talk your experience through with someone who understands, supports you and gives you direction and focus, I'm here to help. I'd love to be that person and journey with you. Why not book a coaching session. You'll find more details when you click here now.