Tips for Blending Families

You’ve healed, met the love of your life and are hopeful this time around they are “the one”. Now what? You have kids from your previous relationship and are excited to blend your family with your new love’s family. From the surface this seems like an easy task, but soon you are greeted with challenges. Below you’ll find a few tips on how to help make blending families a bit easier to navigate.

Building a Solid Relationship Foundation

The work for blending families starts well before children are introduced to your new partner. Establishing a firm foundation with your partner, built on great communication and trust is vital. This will also enhance relationship satisfaction. Prior to blending your family, ensure that you and your partner have established healthy communication habits, such as checking in with each other regularly to see how each is feeling about the relationship and any personal challenges you may be facing. Relationship stability will help build a solid foundation for blended family stability. Committing to continuous relationship development while also committing to putting in the work required to create a new family assists couples in navigating this new family dynamic.

James Bray, the author of the book Stepfamilies, emphasized that at the heart of every well-functioning blended family is a stable and happy marriage. This was anchored by research by The Gottman Institute. They found that the strength of a couple’s relationship ultimately determines the family’s success.

Communication and Conflict

Conflict is inevitable in relationships. The way a couple chooses to navigate conflict can help strengthen the foundation of a relationship or weaken the foundation. Making the choice to actively listen to understand your partner’s perspective versus becoming defensive will help strengthen the relationship foundation. Challenging topics may arise while blending families.

Criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling are four of the most destructive relationship behaviors. Gottman warns couples to be mindful and not engage in these behaviors, also known as The Four Horsemen. When conflict arises, using “I” statements as a way to communicate how you are feeling can be useful in staying respectful while also communicating your needs to your partner. “I” statements are also helpful when used as a way to accept responsibility for one’s actions. Lastly, utilizing empathy and compassion are also great ways to navigate conflict.

Patience and Realistic Expectations

Establishing a blended family will take effort, time and patience. Couples should work together to discuss goals for their new family. It is important to remain flexible and display patience while children adjust to the new changes. Couples who remain open and honest while tackling sensitive topics such as children dynamics, exes, and finances aid in establishing a firm foundation for their new family to blossom.

Staying connected to your partner by keeping the lines of communication open and offering a lot of grace is instrumental when establishing a new family. Making the choice to parent together and be united when it comes to family rules and discipline will help provide the children with consistency needed to eventually find comfort within the new family. Blending families can be challenging, but with intentionality new families can build a strong bond and establish lasting traditions.

If you are ready to seek help from a counselor, please reach out. You can call us at 832-352-1600 or contact us through our website at txharmonycounseling.com/contact-us.

We are here to help!

Mycael Parks

Mycael Parks

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