MARRIAGE AND BLENDING FAMILIES
Marriages come in all shapes and sizes, couples marrying for the first time with no children, couples with his or her children, couples who are marrying for the second time or more with or without children in various stages of their lives, The marital status at the time of the marriage can represent issues as well, such as widowed or divorced.
Blending families together can present a multitude of challenges. Blended family is the politically correct name for step families. Children may resent the new marriage, stepparent and or the step siblings. Room to merge both families can at times present difficulties. Emotional issues must be addresses as well.
When a person thinks of marriage it seems so easy. Just get a marriage license, get married, and live happily ever after. WRONG! There are many things to consider when planning to marry. Even though a person may be sexually attracted to another, this is not enough to base a long-term relationship. Marriage is the merging of two people (sometimes a whole bunch of people). Many things must be taken into account; for example compatibility, likes, dislikes, families, personality, disposition, even little things like which side of the bed one sleeps. It these items are not clearly identified before marriage, the relationship may not succeed.
FINDING A HUSBAND OVER 40
It used to be difficult for older women to find a husband. Now with so many divorces and health issues it is seems to be easier to find a husband for a woman who is over 40.
Itâ€™s easier to be killed by a terrorist than to get married over the age of 40. (From the movie â€œSleepless in Seattleâ€ )
This is a cynical way (or cruel) way of telling a woman that it is extremely unlikely that an unmarried woman can find a husband after age 40. (Http://www.eslnotes.com/movies/html/sleepless-in-seattle.html)
PRAGMATIC MARRIAGE VERSUS ROMANTIC MARRIAGE
In some cultures, pragmatic (arranged) marriages are a tradition. The parents or public officials arrange marriages for young women when they reach puberty. Often the men are much older than the women in the pragmatic marriages. In other cultures, people are allowed to choose their own spouse. They are allowed to look for a romantic relationship.
Those who believe in romantic marriage will often criticize pragmatic marriage, considering it is oppressive, inhuman, or immoral. Defenders of pragmatic marriage disagree, often pointing to cultures where the success rate of pragmatic marriages is seen to be high, and holding that nearly all couples learn to love and care for each other very deeply. (Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/marriage)
There are two main ways to marry; in a civil ceremony or a religious ceremony that also meets the civil and religious requirements. In the United States both can be done at the same time. â€œ In countries such as France, Germany and Russia, it is necessary to be married by the state before having a religious ceremony.â€ (Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/marriage)
Some people marry in a civil ceremony because they have no religious affiliation or they do not qualify to be married in the church. Other people marry in religious ceremony which is not considered legal by the state government. Some of the reasons for marrying in the eyes of God only are: â€œhomosexual couples, some sects of Mormonism which recognize polygamy, retired couples that would lose pension benefits if legally married,â€ (Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/marriage)
When couples are young and marrying for the first time there is usually a large wedding and then a reception for the newly married couple. The bride and groomâ€™s parents pay for the appropriate expenses of the wedding and celebration that follows. When marrying for the second time traditionally couples only had a small ceremony with family and close friends. In the last few years with so many people divorcing, etiquette has changed. It is now considered that the wedding day belongs to the couple and they should do whatever they would like. Many people that are remarrying are now having large weddings and receptions. Differences are that the couple themselves are paying for the wedding and reception instead of the bride and groomâ€™s parents; and that children from previous relationships are usually included in the wedding celebration if they choose participate. For example, the daughters might be the maid of honor and brideâ€™s maids and a son might walk his mother down the aisle or be his fatherâ€™s best man.
With so many second or additional marriages come additional challenges. The blending of two families into one family is not an easy task and may not happen. It is difficult enough for two people to marry, but to add children from previous relationships into the marriage in some cases makes the marriage and blending of families almost impossible.
To a child who does not belong to one, step family may suggest Cinderellaâ€™s family or the Brady Bunch. Actually, neither situation tells the whole story. In a blended or step family, one or both partners have been married before. Each has lost a spouse through divorce or death. One or both of them have children from their previous marriage. They have fallen in love and decided to remarry. They form a new step family that includes children from one or both of their first households. (www.helpguide.org/mental/blend_families_stepfamilies.htm)
Decisions should be made in advance regarding finances, parenting styles, where the blended family will live, and who will be in charge of what duties. It is not just a couple marrying, but a whole family being blended. The couple/parents need to present a united front on these issues. It must be decided if they will maintain separate bank accounts or one joint account. If separate accounts, who will pay for which expenses. Who and how will the children be parented? Will they reside in one of the existing residences or will they choose to move into a completely new home?
The marrying couple as well as the children may bring emotional baggage into the family and the relationships that are forming. Usually in divorce, the children are subject to hearing and or being part of the reasons for the divorce. When a parent dies of cancer or some other illness the children are there during the process of dying. In either situation, the adults as well as the children are affected.
Children have no choice in the matter of a divorce or death, nor do they have a choice in the events that follow. This powerlessness interferes with their confidence and sense of security. Children, like adults, need to feel they have choice and control in their lives. (Http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/family/nf223.htm)
No matter the age, whether the children are young or adult age, they need to feel like they have some control in their lives. They should have input on decisions that effect them, with the parents having the final decision.
LOYALTY AND GUILT
It can be confusing for children to identify with the step family that is being formed because they may feel they are being disloyal to the biological parent. The childrenâ€™s identities comes from their parents. It is difficult to bond with a stepparent when the children have feelings of guilt. Outside influences from extended family and others can be either helpful or a major hindrance. In the case of death, it is very difficult for the deceased spouseâ€™s family to see the widowed spouse remarry. At times they can cause problems by trying to turn the children away from the widowed spouse. For the children it adds to the confusion and feelings of being disloyal to the deceased parent. On the other hand, extended family can help bond a blended family by pointing out the good points and attributes of having a stepparent or step siblings.
COMMUNICATION AND UNDERSTANDING
The two most important keys to any successful marriage and blended family are communication and understanding. An open line of communication is essential to know the wants and needs of a spouse and step children as well as them knowing your wants and needs.
Children of any age are afraid of unknown changes. Afraid that their parent will not love them as much, or that they will get less time and attention from their parent. There is a story of a teenager that thought after her father divorced that she would have more time with him. He remarried a month after the divorce. She was devastated. She got less time with him after he remarried than she did when he was married to her mother.
Children need to know where they fit in. Additionally, they need to know that they are loved, wanted and needed in the family.
Adults need to let children know they understand how upsetting it is to have to deal with so many changes. They need to acknowledge and accept their childrenâ€™s feelings. Try to view the situation through the eyes of the child. (Http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/family/nf223.htm)
If you are lucky or blessed enough to find a wonderful person to share your life with you; you will be able to put together a step family which is also known as a blended family. The ingredients are love, patience, understanding and time. Remember: â€œDonâ€™t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you will become.â€ (http://www.troubledwith.com/stellent/groups/public//@fotf_troubledwith/documents/arcticles/twi_024465.cfm?channel=Relationships&topic=blended%20Families)
Sleepless in Seattle, Retrieved September 12, 2005 from
Marriage, Retrieved September 10, 2005 from
Blended Families / Stepfamilies, Retrieved September 10, 2005 from
Supporting Stepfamilies: What Do The Children Feel?, Retrieved September 10, 2005 from
Blended Families Your New Family, Retrieved September 10, 2005 from