Marrying … with Children

How do we build a healthy blended family?

I have two children and I'm about to marry a man who also has two children. I'm concerned about blending our families. Any advice?

You're facing a challenge, but you can be successful. Creating a strong blended family actually involves principles similar to those used to create a strong marriage—mutual respect and consideration.

When two people marry, they bring together their differences to forge a common life. Likewise, a blended family brings together many people and their differences to create a common family life. This process involves both loss and gain. What you and your fiancé had in your previous marriages is gone. But the good news is, you're on the brink of creating a brand-new marriage, family, and home.

Making something new requires an interest in and respect for what's important to each member of your blended family. It may help you to ask each family member (even the youngest one) what he or she would like to see as part of this new family.

Remember, you and your husband will also have to be deliberate about building your marriage. It's easy to hit the ground running because of all the children involved, but don't let your marriage take a back seat. Make sure you spend some couple-only time so you can work together as a team. If you don't, your stress will keep you functioning independently, and you'll end up having two separate families living under the same roof.

Why not read some books on blended families and parenting with your husband? That way, you can begin to formulate how you want your family to look and how you want to work together. Respect each other's needs and hopes, and consider how your choices will impact the others. If you do this, you'll build a healthy family and model good relationships for your children.

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