Love is in the air and many people are planning remarriage ceremonies this summer. When you were young and first looking for love, it probably wasn’t very complicated. You thought you found what you wanted…the rest is history.
People who find themselves looking for a partner later in life discover that dating has become much more complicated—especially if you and/or your love interest are divorced and have children.
In remarriage, it takes emotional maturity and a deep commitment to each other to be a stepcouple. Adults should ask serious questions of each other and share concerns as early and as often as possible in their relationship. If there’s enough love, trust, and support in the adults’ relationship to carry out the responsibilities of co-parenting kids, the prognosis for success is good.
My book Stepcoupling includes a list of questions that people should thoroughly and honestly consider while dating, falling in love and planning a future together (p. 11-13). Three of the most important questions are:
- Is this relationship right FOR ME? Does my partner respect and listen to me? Can I be honest with my feelings, thoughts, and fears? Can I grow and change in this relationship? Can I rely on my partner to help me? Can I be myself?
- Does this relationship work FOR THE TWO OF US? Are both of our needs being met? Do we listen and are we kind to each other? Do we share common interests and values? Do we make time for each other? Do we have fun and laugh? Are we willing to face conflicts, make compromises, and resolve differences with each other?
- What’s right FOR THE CHILDREN? Am I willing to be a stepparent and accept his or her children? Can we trust each other with our children? Do we respect each other’s relationship with our children? Are we patient with each other’s children? Do we honor each other’s children as individuals? Do we have similar parenting styles, and if not, can we learn from each other and reach a middle ground?
It won’t be perfect in the beginning. Forming new stepfamily relationships is difficult. What’s most important is that you trust your partner, that your partner is willing and able to grow with you, and that you respect each other deeply. With those ingredients, you’re in a good position to tackle anything…together. Oh yes, LOVE helps too!
Susan Wisdom MA