It’s finally here!!!
Did you read our post on Single Parenting At Midlife?
If you haven’t, click the link below to read it.
This week, we bring you “Blending Unusual Fruits”
Creating a smoothly blended family at midlife is like trying to make a smoothie from several fruits, nuts and spices. This is never an easy task and it requires cutting, crushing, scraping and grinding of all these fruits and nuts to form a roughly smooth drink.
Many people who have attempted blending families at midlife have experienced a wide range of very dynamic and unnamable emotions that they never thought of or events that they did not see coming. Many have suggested that up to 70% of blended marriages end in separation within the first 5 years in the western world, while in Africa the statistics are a bit more complex because of the traditional approaches and non-documented entry into the relationships and exit periods.
Family Blending at midlife requires a strong personal decision, information, wisdom, re-education, information, and counselling for all possible blendies at all levels. You need to understand the dynamics of bringing yourself, another person, and children from different parents. There are highly predictable points of conflict that can be anticipated and discussed before the blending attempt.
Let’s look at a few of them:
The longer you stay single after the end of the first marriage, the more complex adjusting becomes based on your new space and deep level of independence and lifestyle.
Have you healed and moved-on from the divorce or death of your spouse?
Have you thought through and really decided to re-engage? Are your heart, body and soul ready to move on?
Have your children healed? Have they forgiven you and your spouse for the unimaginable social situation and pressure you to put them through?
Have you had a deep and open conversation with your children? Do the children have enough preparation and understanding of step-parents and are they ready?
Where will you live? Who will move? When you move, how will you deal with turf protection, whose house/whose room is this and why are you in my space? How will you blend the space lifestyle?
Are you ready to deal with mild and severe jealousy across the family lines?
How will you deal with the new rules of managing children and reward styles? How to deal with the culture shock and transition periods that might take a long time?
Who comes first, your child(ren), the new spouse or the other children?
Are you ready to become a mini-wife/husband or mini-mother/father?
Have you identified your prejudices, the sources of these biases and how to deal with the ideas and become more open to new thoughts?
Do you have the heart to love another person’s child? Can you deal with the outcome of the other person’s parenting style?
Can you deal with the rejection from the children and the outright emotional, near-physical and verbal aggression?
Are you ready to deal with the blended children’s rivalry and conflict?
How do you handle the combined emotional responsibilities and the crisscross love sharing?
How to deal with step family members that have not healed, adjusted or are overprotective of you because of your previous situation?
The point is not to discourage you but to prepare you for the voyage ahead and the type of challenges you have never experienced. The pushing of your mind, body, and emotions to new limits while remaining strong and stable to continue your journey and fulfil your planned vision.
It is the opportunity to have a series of conversations with your partner and highlight these issues, seek opinions, observe reactions, and try to point decisions or form new ideologies about parents - parenting - family life, and living together.
You cannot afford to underestimate the person you have concretely become over the years, the structure and routines you have built and mindset or life ideology that drives your person and essence. All these are about to change based on your decision to attempt family blending.
How can you increase the chances of success of your proposed blendies;
Deal with the questions - Is blending for me? - can I deal with this?
Get educated about family blending, research your situation and your partner's situation very closely, and determine if things can become smooth.
Have a deep and open discussion with your partner on areas such as; parenting style, rewards, home care, extended family, finances, school quality, holiday, foods, drinks, lifestyle, family events, faith, ex-wife/husbands, and technology.
Attempt dry runs, have events where both families will meet and engage a few times and as partners review the events and get feedback from your children.
Step beyond your emotions into the realities of your situations. Your proposed marriage is now between you and several other people, so it is not just about love and emotions - it is more about operations, schedules, people’s preferences and reactions to new circumstances.
Plan for a 3-year well structured and managed transition period to get the blendies smooth and working together. It's time to create a strategy for transiting smoothly through the woods.
Review your decision with your partner and maybe try another approach.
Are you in a similar situation and you need to talk to someone?
Let’s talk about your planned blending.
Dealing with “Rough Blendies” - watch out for another post