Second marriages are more likely to fail than first marriages. In fact, 67% of second marriages will end in divorce (source). 67%.
Let that sink in. It is kind of a depressing statistic, isn’t it?
Psychology Today (source) attributes the significant failure rate of second and subsequent marriage to many reasons. In many cases, the failure of a marriage is chalked up to experience and changing gender roles. If you have been married before, you are more likely to be aware of the blazing red flags that pop up when a marriage is in trouble. And as women grow more financially stable, and men become more able to manage households, less people are staying in marriages because they are dependent on the contributions of the other partner.
I Refuse to be Part of the 67%
When I got married, I made a commitment, not just to my partner, but to his child as well. I know that many second marriages fail because people rush to marry while they are still in the rebound stage, or because they have not healed from the wounds of their first marriages (source). When my husband and I tied the knot, we both went into the marriage feeling healed and ready to spend the rest of our lives together. We understood that because his daughter made us a stepfamily, we would need to know how to effectively stepcouple. That meant leaving the baggage created by his former marriage behind.
To make it work, we had to set some ground rules.
First, we knew that we would have to nurture our connection. We cannot bring 100% to our children if we are not giving 100% to us. For us, cultivating our connection means we do not miss opportunities to remember the little things that made us fall in love in the first place. Wake up texts at five in the morning? Check. Making date night a priority? Done. Taking at least fifteen minutes a day to be together, just the two of us, without kids, phones, TV, or being half asleep? Double check! Our connection is the key to making all the rest of it work.
Next, we made communication a priority. Not only do we have to communicate effectively with each other, but with our exes as well. Effective stepcoupling does not happen if we are not communicating well. Lack of communication means essential things are missed and hurt feelings are allowed to grow. As a blended family, we just can’t thrive in that kind of environment.
Effective communication makes co-parenting easier. Having an attitude of co-parenting means that everyone is an equal partner in the raising of the children. As a team, we all work together to create a loving, nurturing, safe environment for our children. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we know when it is time to step back and let another co-parent handle a specific issue. We stand as a united front so that our children are not getting mixed messages. Believe me when I say that it is not always easy to co-parent, but it is an essential part of being a successful stepcouple.
Finally, an effective stepcouple understands the value of clarification. In a co-parenting relationship, there could be as many as four adults involved in the parenting of the children. That means that many different perspectives are brought to the table. Using clarification enables us to see many sides of an issue or to examine things in a different light than we may have previously considered. It is important to take this opportunity to make sure that everyone is working together for the benefit of the children.
Effective stepcouples make their relationship work through commitment, determination, and a unified goal of raising happy, healthy children. This is best done if both people are aware of the challenges that face them as they build their lives together. Approaching those challenges together enables the stepcouple to not only survive those challenges but thrive in the face of them!
PS: Seeking additional guidance or support? Check out my list of the top stepparenting resources. They’re the best of the best, personally endorsed by me!