Making Your Remarriage Work: Steps for Success

As my husband, Randy, and I celebrate a 15-year milestone in our marriage this week, I’ve been reflecting on how we’ve managed to stay married during some difficult years. So, for the next few posts, I want to highlight steps for success in a remarriage.

In their book, The Remarriage Checkup, Ron Deal and Dr. David Olson talk about the challenges of remarriage. “It is worthy to note that 88 percent of remarriage couples expect to have difficulties with stepfamily issues, but expecting difficulties and knowing how to manage them are two different things. Our clinical experience shows that despite an awareness that stepfamily issues will prove problematic for their marriage, most couples don’t fully anticipate the magnitude of the stressors they will face and often are not equipped to deal with it.”

Success in remarriage takes intentional steps toward healthy choices. The first and most important step that Randy and I took was committing to a united walk in our faith as we married and blended our familiesWe were from different denominations of faith that were similar in beliefs, but different in rituals. So, during our dating years, Randy and I committed to a spiritual journey together that included raising our children in a Christ-filled home. We then began church shopping until we found a church we could worship in as a family. We joined the church before we married. I’ll never forget the pastor stumbling over his words as he introduced our families to the congregation, trying to avoid the subject of divorce as we stood with our four children!

If I’m not willing to surrender to a Christ-filled life, I assume the position of having all the answers. Remarriage and stepfamily life is complicated. If I rely on my own understanding, I fail. However, when I rely on guidance from the Lord and His Word, I have greater success in  my relationships. I also need God’s love and mercy daily as I relate to others in my stepfamily, particularly during difficult periods.

Without our faith, I firmly believe Randy and I would not have survived 15 years of blended family life. But as we lean on the Lord for strength,wisdom, and perseverance, we find hope to continue on our journey.

What do you think? Do you consider your faith an important part of success in your remarriage?

Related posts:

Looking for Hope on Your Stepfamily Journey?

Nurture Your Marriage

Healthy Stepparenting: Walk with God Daily

Stepfamily Finances: Making it Work

If you live in a stepfamily, it’s likely that money’s tight. Supporting several kids while recovering from life as a single parent takes a toll. If you’re recently divorced, you feel the financial strain of separating your assets and starting over.

When you remarry, it’s not unusual to have conflicting ideas on how to handle your money. You must decide as a couple how to manage the income and expenses together. Do you keep it in two separate pots, divide up the bills, and pay accordingly; or do you trust your new partner in his money handling abilities and put the money in a shared pot?

There’s not a single correct answer to that question. It can work both ways or a combination of both. But here are a few ideas  to help make the choice that’s right for you.

1.  Listen to each other’s opinion on his/her choice of handling the money and why he/she  feels that way. If there were secrets surrounding finances in a previous relationship, it’s natural that your spouse will want some separation at first. If money was mishandled previously, it will also affect one’s choice.

2. Consider the financial history of each spouse and the present condition of your financial position. If  there’s only one income coming in, it’s natural to pool the money into one pot. However, with two incomes and separate payments needed for child support, insurance premiums, or other expenses related to a biological child, you might choose to keep some money separate.

3. Define goals for your family together and how you want to accomplish those goals. If there is considerable debt with one spouse upon marriage, you  may choose to pool your income and work together to pay off the debt. You also want to consider the message you’re sending to your children on how you manage your money and what you want to teach them concerning finances.

4. Recognize the importance of flexibility in managing your money. Don’t get hung up on insisting you must manage your money a certain way because you’ve always done it that way. If you start with separate accounts but decide you want to pool your resources together after a few years, give it a whirl. If it doesn’t work, try a different way.

5. Be fair with one another. Each spouse should have access to some disposable income for discretionary needs without incurring a barrage of questions. It’s also important that the wife and husband both have credit established in their own name.

My husband and I have primarily shared our pool of income and expenses since we married. We have been successful at managing our money together (although with five children, there’s never enough!) We communicate frequently about how our money is spent and each has an equal voice in prioritizing our income and spending needs.

When my stepchildren lost their mother and we were receiving social security benefits for them, we kept that money separate to pay for private school expenses and other costs related directly to them. It was understood that the money allocated from her loss would be spent only for them.

Stepfamily finances can create additional conflict in a marriage. Learning how to make it work takes time and is different for every marriage. But with good communication and flexibility with one another, it can be managed successfully.

How do you manage your finances? Is it working?

Related posts:

Nurture Your Marriage 

Setting Goals and Your Stepfamily

Intentionally Nurturing Your Marriage

Setting Goals and Your Stepfamily

I love a new year. It’s a great time to consider changes we want to make, successes we’ve had and challenges we’ve dealt with.

Goal setting plays an important role in making changes or setting new priorities for our family relationships. If we want positive action to take place, we need to be intentional in setting goals toward changes we desire.

Goal setting can start small and develop further when change begins to occur. It’s helpful to start with areas that need the most attention in your family and form goals surrounding the most urgent needs. Some goals may need everyday attention while other goals require sporadic but concentrated involvement.

Goals change as stepfamilies grow and mature. When our children were younger our goals focused more on forming strong relationships with each other and creating unity in our family. We also focused on keeping the lines of communication open between all parties involved in the parenting process. As our children have grown older, our goals now center more individually, focusing on specific needs of each child. There is less communication with others in the parenting process and we are comfortable with and thankful for the unity achieved in our family.

The two girls pictured above are my stepdaughter, Adrianne(24), and daughter, Jamie (19). Ten years ago the two girls could hardly stay in the same room together for over an hour without an argument. Today they easily enjoy each other’s company while shopping together, playing games together, and exchanging constant conversation about boyfriends, school, work, or life in general. Years ago it would have been easy to quit trying for a friendly relationship to ever form between the two of them. But we never gave up on our goal of unity within our family relationships.

Goal setting allows us to identify our strengths and weaknesses in our family and work toward desired changes. It also allows us to affirm ourselves for setting goals and reaching them.

It’s a brand new year with 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes.
Our goals this year will be reached only if we take time to set them first.