We all have them. In first marriages when you add children after the marriage, it’s natural to work out your roles, who does what and when. But it’s a different story in blended families where you have two separate households that may have been operating quite differently from one another. What are your expectations for the new household? You each have them and you better talk about them.
The man may want a mom for his kids and he may expect her to do all of the cooking, cleaning and taxiing. The woman may want a man to increase her standard of living and be a great dad for her kids, loving them as much as she does. We dream of the big day and expect things will be a certain way once we say our “I do’s”. But are our expectations realistic? Are my and my partner’s expectations even close?
I’m going to ask some questions for you to consider before you get re-married. If you are already married, consider these questions as they may reveal an area you need to focus on in your relationship. The problem may be that your expectations are miles apart.
- What household jobs belong to whom?
- Who is going to pick up the kids and cart them around?
- Who is going to cook dinner?
- Who will take care of the finances?
- Are we going to combine our money or keep it separate?
- Who pays for what?
- How much will we spend on the kids for Christmas and birthdays? This can become a problem if one of you likes to go all out and the other wants to keep it simple.
- Do we have the same parenting styles? This area can make or break a re-marriage.
- What time should the kids go to bed? One spouse may love to put the kids to bed early but the other lets them stay up late. These little things may seem insignificant but are important to consider and come to an agreement on before the marriage. These are the things that can cause resentment and fights.
- What about when your spouse has a problem with your child, how are you two, as a couple, going to handle it? If you don’t have an agreement, you may end up feeling torn between your children and spouse.
- What are your individual expectations for the kids?
- And are those expectations different from what they are used to? If they are drastically different, you may unknowingly be creating resentment in your child toward your new spouse. If your spouse likes the kids in bed earlier than you do and you compromise on a new bedtime for the kids, it might be wise to let them enjoy some quiet time in their room before lights are required out so they don’t resent the new bedtime.
- Do you expect your partner to make you happy or is that your responsibility? If you are not happy before the marriage, you probably won’t be happy after the marriage.
- How is your communication? Can you discuss issues rationally and come up with a solution? If you expect communication problems to dissolve after you marry, I can pretty much guarantee that they won’t. But obviously, this area can be worked on and improved but it’s easier to do so before the marriage.
I have actually had couples decide to put off the wedding for a period of time, after examining their expectations together, until they could come to an agreeable solution for both parties. Better to work on them before the marriage than after.
If you or someone you know is considering re-marriage with kids, I would recommend pre-marital coaching to examine these areas. I would consider it an honor to work with you so that your re-marriage will get off to a great start.