Remarriage and Blended Families: 5 Keys to Success

Posted by in communication skills in dating, dating after divorce, love after 40 | 0 comments

remarriageHenry Gornbein is a specialist in all aspects of family law, author of the Spousal Chapter of Michigan Family Law, and host of the award winning cable tv show, Practical Law. He is a frequent blogger, including for the Huffington Post, and a guest on Divorce Source Radio with the Ask Henry Segment. He is a partner in Lippitt O’Keefe Gornbein in Birmingham, Michigan, and the author of “Divorce Demystified, Everything You Need To Know Before You File For Divorce”. I’ve loosely transcribed highlights of our radio interview about second marriages and how to make blended families work. 

Remarriage and Blended Families: 5 Keys to Success


What’s the biggest issue about entering into a new relationship post-divorce?

Before you enter in a new relationship, ask yourself if you have recovered from your divorce or prior relationship. If you haven’t, I think you’re doomed to failure. Also, if you date someone who’s newly divorced/widowed and hasn’t worked through their issues, is he/she willing to focus on you and not the problems of the last relationship?

Life is not simple and we all have baggage. Are you just shifting baggage from one relationship to the next? Or are you ready to move on? 

Why are second marriages more difficult than first marriages?

There are usually no children, debts, problems in a first marriage. In second marriages, you have baggage; children, property divided, debts. Are you receiving enough child support or paying too much? The problems are bigger, so you need to talk them out and work them through.

Why are your children such a potential problem in remarriage?

You want a perfect blended family, but don’t rush your children into the relationship. Children generally don’t like stepparents or step siblings and are very good at sabotaging relationships. When dating, don’t introduce your children to the “flavor of the month”. Give your kids a chance to first be comfortable with you as a single parent. Make your children feel you love them and also have enough love to share with your future spouse.

There will always be issues in a new relationship. You may disagree with how your new spouse deals with his/her children. If there are issues, write them down and go through them with one another. Women often want to make people over. Or men say, “I’d like you to have a tummy tuck.” Run away as fast as you can. Accept people for who they are (or don’t marry them).

What rights do stepparents have?

You and your new spouse should talk step-parenting issues through as to what your role will be with each other’s kids. Legally, stepparents have no rights with stepchildren. But you also can’t “let the inmates run the asylum”. Don’t undermine each other; try and discuss how you’re going to handle these issues.  Don’t hover over your kids and celebrate mediocrity. Let your children fly and experience failure. That’s what builds self-esteem.

To listen to the entire episode, please click here.


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