THAT THING ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
When love has gone terribly wrong and divorce leaves people alone, the desire to be in a new relationship is compelling. After all, people love to fall in love, love to get engaged, and love to put on a wedding, but the building of a strong marriage after the wedding is a completely different challenge. Chronically high divorce rates in first, second, and third marriages reveal the difficulty of this task. Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.
Create a blueprint for what each of you wants in the marriage. Like any successful venture, marriage requires a plan. This is difficult since most of us know more about what we don’t want, than what we do want. Remarriage and combining families is tantamount to merging two corporations. To put it mildly, there is much confusion at the beginning. This is no time to be quiet about what you feel. Couples get into trouble when they stop talking to each other about the daily problems they need to solve together.
Relationships do not exist in isolation. Couples fall in love when for a moment they are alone and everything clicks. But each of us comes with family members who will continue to play a strong role in our lives. Ex-spouses, parents, children and even grandchildren may come with the package. Relatives who are not even alive or present may be unseen driving forces that come with remarriages. Get to know this family that you will be marrying. While divorce legally ends a marriage, family ties are forever.
Be careful not to displace each other. When re-coupling, there is a great temptation to divvy up the family roles without reviewing how that’s working. For various reasons, biological parents sometimes relinquish authority over the kids to new step-parents. In spite of good intentions, this rarely works out well because children need direct access to their biological parents. Efforts to achieve healthy and respectful bonds take time and trust. Biological parents who want to please both their children and their new mates have a tough juggling act that will require a great deal of flexibility from all parties.
Relationships need rules and constitutional amendments. Regular “family meetings” between spouses give couples a forum for discussing the progress of their merger. The merging of families affects all areas of life. Good or bad, all changes in the family cause a great deal of chaos before achieving a new healthier reorganization. I recommend that couples keep a special notebook in which to identify various family problems, solutions, and progress in the effort to achieve the goals in their “marriage blueprint”. Have regular “meetings” to evaluate how things are going. Without these efforts, it is all too easy to find yourself facing another divorce.
People remarry for many different reasons. While being single is often lonely and overwhelming, it is wise to be very selective when dating and getting to know prospective partners. Take time to find someone who shares your concept of teamwork. Wait for someone who values you and wants to co-create a healthy life together. You deserve the best and those who love you will appreciate your patience!