Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

Issues in Divorce and Remarriage

December 31, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 141

Thought your divorce was hard on you and the children? I'm certain it was, although there are new research studies coming out that it's better on your children than having them remain with you in a high-conflict marriage. But the divorce and its consequences may be nothing compared to how hard the situation becomes when you remarry.

There are two major topics to deal with for the blended family, how to deal with your former spouse, and how to parent your own children.

The first issue that really must be addressed is how to deal with your former spouse as you're going ahead and building your own separate (but quite equal!) life. It is crucial that you set proper step-family boundaries. Realize that if you have not separated psychologically from your ex-spouse, you must find a friend or counselor to help you work through that issue. On your own, set limits on the number of phone calls, letters, and e-mails you and your former spouse exchange, even if s/he has not separated emotionally from you. And now is the time, even if you never accomplished it before, to give up the wish to receive approval and appreciation from your ex.

That does not mean you should cut your ex off completely. It's important to remember that studies have consistently shown that children who have contact with both parents on a regular basis adjust better than those who don't. So you might be playing the role of making sure that contact happens. Keep these thoughts in mind as you facilitate a relationship between your child and your ex-spouse:

The parent with whom the child lives most of the time is responsible for ensuring that the other parent has a fair opportunity to be with the children.

You should include the children's other parent in decisions involving them, including trips to Hawaii that impinge on previously agreed-upon visitation times, signing your child up for lessons that involve the other parent as a personal chauffeur, holiday vacations where your child is home all day with unstructured time, and working parents need a back-up plan.

In terms of coordination, if all the adults can talk together about the arrangements, that's the best scenario. If not, have the adults who can relate the most easily make the plans--and that might not be the biological parents.

Also, do not involve young children in conversations regarding plans with the other biological parent, or any decisions about visitation, but do encourage older children to have input about arrangements affecting them before you go ahead and make contact with the other household. Just allowing your (older) children to have a voice can make all the difference in the success of the blended family.

As you work out a system of sharing your child, recognize that no two households operate on the same rules. Set the ones you want for your home--but realize that you must allow your ex to set the rules for his/her own home.

Make it clear that families do things differently, not right or wrong, although occasionally adults may need to get together to discuss some rather unusual situation. One step-father and mother in my practice, for example, were able to convince the wife's ex-husband that their eight-year-old child should not, in fact, be going with them to X-rated movies, and I'd have to call that a victory. But how the children dress, what they eat, or what time they go to bed--within reason--must just be accepted as different between the households. "Daddy lets me stay up until 10:00" should hold no sway with you, and a simple, "9:00 is the bedtime we have in this household" is the only response necessary.

Note that sometimes young children sense the unhappiness of the parent with whom they stay most of the time and are reluctant to leave them. Just tell them--and make sure they believe it--that it's ok to go, and normalize the visits.

It's important to expect only general conversation from your children about their other household, and do not pry into details of their experiences there.

Sometimes children will, indeed, talk about their experiences with your ex-spouse. Sometimes they'll tell you all about the terrible things--or, instead, the wondrous happenings or things they see there, like steps-sister Fifi's matching pink luggage set. This can place them in a powerful position if they succeed in stirring up feelings for you. This kind of power in their hands doesn't work out well for anyone. Ignore and then, if needed, discourage this kind of behavior by your children.

Use common sense: If there is tension between you and your former spouse, talk about your issues when your children are not around. Children pick up on and internalize even the smallest bits of interpersonal difficulty.

If the two of you simply cannot talk productively, find a counselor to act as a facilitator, or even a referee, if necessary.

The second major issue that must be dealt with, as you combine families, is how to parent your own children when you remarry, no matter who else is in the house-adult or child.

Start by working to reduce your children's feelings of loss as they share you with your new partner--and perhaps other children. Work to do this by continuing to spend time alone with them. Note two things about time spent with your children:

First, your children will want as much exclusive time as you can give them--and, really, more. They may even see your special time as paving the way to return to single-parenthood, or even a reconciliation with your former spouse. Set limits, even though the kids will complain. If you make it clear that all the belly-aching in the world won't change the situation, the kids will--eventually--give up.

Second, the times you spend with your children don't need to be long in terms of minutes and hours. Just concentrating on them completely sometimes is all that's important.

After dealing with your children's feelings of loss, it's time to confront your own. Recognize a somewhat contradictory emotion within you: Because you had an exclusive relationship with your children, you may have mixed feelings about their forming relationships with your new spouse. This is okay, as long as you don't act these mixed feelings out.

Finally, if you are a remarried parent seeing your children much less than you would like, you may feel guilty and tempted to overcompensate on weekends. But realize three things:

First, it can upset your step-children when you plan only for your own kids.

Second, your spouse might also feel upset, underappreciated, and think that what your children want is all that matters to you.

Third, your children, as well as the rest of your step-family, may feel more relaxed and contented if you realize that being together is the most important element--more important than what excursion you plan or what toys you buy.

Finally, and despite all underage protests, you and your spouse do have permission to leave all of the children behind to do something important to the two of you. Modeling a loving relationship is one of the best gifts you can give your children and step-children.

Divorce and re-marriage are hard on you and the children, but if you deal expertly with your ex-spouse, and work hard to be appropriate in parenting your own children when you re-marry, you're off to a good start in your new marriage. You can overcome the mistakes and losses of your first marriage, and build a loving, safe place for you and your children in your second-and last!--go-round.

Candida Abrahamson has been a mediator, life coach and counselor since graduating with her PhD from Northwestern. She does family and couples therapy, grief and cancer counseling, and works on coaching clients with life management skills. In addition to hypnotherapy, she also mediates for families and businesses, as well as in cases of divorce, both in her native Chicago, and nation-wide, via the medium of the phone session. Find out more about Candida at, and read her ideas in-depth at

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:

Blended Family


Step Parenting


Re Marriage




Ex Spouse


Step Family


Former Spouse

Since time immemorial unscrupulous folk have existed. The world continues to see them and they would continue to exist to the end of the world. The best you could do is sensitizing yourself to detect

By: Zuneaoy l Home & Family > Crafts Supplies l December 11, 2012 lViews: 582

What does it take to find the best prices and greatest selection when searching for jewelry supplies? Because jewelry making has become such a popular hobby, there is no shortage of locations where

By: Zuneaoy l Home & Family > Crafts Hobbies l December 11, 2012 lViews: 250

You can purchase the same thing online for a much cheaper price. Now, granted, you may find that some beads and snake bracelets are just as expensive as at the store, but you will find that online

By: Zuneaoy l Home & Family > Crafts Supplies l December 07, 2012 lViews: 331

Arborist is simply called as the nature maker in the words of a poet. They really make your garden clean, healthy and tidy. When you are having tress at your place it is necessary to check them up or

By: noragwilt l Home & Family > Gardening l November 20, 2012 lViews: 313

To make sure you gain true protection, it is of paramount importance that these covers ought to be durable and strong. To make sure you gain true protection, it is of paramount importance that these

By: Simon Liva l Home & Family > Entertaining l November 16, 2012 lViews: 271

If you wish to throw a birthday celebration party, you should have a lot of money. A number of people think that if perhaps they cannot dedicate such a lot money for the celebration, it won’t

By: jhoel mojokuvic l Home & Family > Entertaining l November 12, 2012 lViews: 287

An All-State guard in high school, James Toney, was offered a basketball scholarship to play at Seton Hall. James struggled with drug addiction. In 1973, he was jailed for drug possession when his

By: Gerardo Campbelll Home & Family > Step Parentingl May 28, 2012 lViews: 288

If you love children and have a motherly generosity within you then you can choose foster care as an ideal career option for yourself. Children are the beautiful broods sent from the heaven who

By: Harvi Maxicl Home & Family > Step Parentingl May 24, 2012 lViews: 193

You were once a confident and competent woman, now your "new life" as a stepmother makes you doubt the good sense God gave you! If you are feeling a bit "abnormal" after entering stepmotherhood, you

By: KaRae' Carey, Ph.D. l Home & Family > Step Parentingl May 23, 2012 lViews: 183

Older folks like yours truly may remember the TV show, the Courtship of Eddie's Father. It starred Bill Bixby, before he was David Banner in The Incredible Hulk. It tells the story of a widower and

By: Joseph D'Eramol Home & Family > Step Parentingl May 05, 2012 lViews: 175

You and your wife may decide to add to your family with children of your own. While clearly a decision for the adults, it greatly involves your stepchildren. It will alter their lives almost as much

By: Joseph D'Eramol Home & Family > Step Parentingl May 05, 2012 lViews: 148

Rodney Dangerfield would frequently lament, "I get no respect" and he wasn't even a stepfather! Just like his biological counterpart, a stepfather may have to deal with negative behaviors like

By: Gerardo Campbelll Home & Family > Step Parentingl April 19, 2012 lViews: 205

Think about all those desirable traits you see in your partner as your relationship first blossoms. Now--be honest with yourself--could those very same traits look very different after a decade of

By: Candida Abrahamson Ph.D.l Relationships > Readinessl January 10, 2012 lViews: 190

Have a teenager? Finding the experience not, perhaps, unending simplicity and joy? You're not alone. Adolescents are searching for independence--and there are some ways to ease that transition for

By: Candida Abrahamson Ph.D.l Home & Family > Adolescent Carel December 28, 2011 lViews: 152