Is Living in a Blended Family More Challenging than You Thought it Would Be?
- Ex-partners, your children or step children conflicting parenting styles are causing conflict between you and your spouse.
- You feel emotionally drained by the challenges of being in a blended/step family.
- You sometimes doubt if your relationship will succeed.
Struggling To Blend Families Is Extremely Common
A recent Pew Research Center poll revealed that an estimated 42% of American adults have at least one blended family relationship (i.e. step or half sibling, step parent, stepchild).
Remarriage, especially when children from the previous relationship(s) are involved, can be a land mine for conflict.
Here are some common challenges found in step families:
- Your children or stepchildren may harbor pain and hostility towards you or your new partner, or their new siblings.
- You and your partner may be driven apart by disagreements in how you should parent the children, schedule routines, and allocate financial resources.
- You may have unresolved issues from your last relationship that can trigger emotional pain and distrust of your new partner.
If you’re in the midst of a blended family, support and guidance from an experienced and compassionate licensed therapist may be critical to the success of your relationship and your family.
Therapy for Blending Families Can Help You and Your Partner Work as a Team
Although you may feel helpless to change your family situation for the better, therapy can provide you and your partner with a safe place to overcome the issues that are causing you discomfort and disconnection.
Blended family counseling gives you the opportunity to make space and time for your relationship. It also demonstrates to each other that, while in the midst of chaos and conflict, working through your family issues is a priority.
Dr. Orenstein – Your Blended Family Therapist Expert
As a licensed therapist with 16 years of experience, I (Dr. Orenstein) have refined my therapeutic approach to incorporate scientifically driven ideas, techniques and exercises in marital and couples counseling. I have pursued advanced training from the renowned Gottman Institute as well as with Dr. Stan Tatkin, founder of the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy Training (PACT ®).
The goal of PACT is to enable couples to be a team that can effectively advocate for each other and help each other feel safe and secure when distress arises. When you and your partner are able to step back from your individual mindsets and look at issues from a place of understanding and compassion, youcan develop greater trust, confidence and connection in their relationship. Rather than continue to be at odds, you can both begin to feel more relaxed, supported and protective of each other.
Your Blended Family Can Be More Harmonious
Blended family counseling sessions for step families provide you and your partner with a protected space to hear each other’s needs without the influence of biased ex-partners, children, family or friends. Through exercises that address unresolved pain, current concerns, and points of contention, I am able to help you blend your family so that it functions more smoothly.
In addition, presenting this united front outside of therapy sends a powerful message to your children, exes, relatives, or friends if they try and penetrate your partnership with conflict or guilt.
With support, guidance and a willingness to explore yourselves and your relationship, you can have a satisfying home life as well as an intimate, meaningful and fulfilling romantic connection.
Concerns You May Have About Step Family…
I’m concerned about how much time and money counseling for blended families will require.
Unfortunately, 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, and the success rate for second and third marriages goes down significantly from there.
Remarriages are difficult, especially when there are children and exes involved. Whether you and your blended family are experiencing problems with your ex-spouse, or if you and your partner are experiencing problems in your marriage, the best thing you can do is to be proactive and seek help now. There are solutions that are specific to blended family situations.
Investing in counseling for your blended family can help you and your partner better understand each other’s needs, problem-solve effectively and work as a team. Investing in your relationship can put you in a place to better support your family and potentially save you from another costly and painful divorce.
I’m worried that if we engage in therapy that we’ll discover that we have irreconcilable differences.
This is a valid concern, and I cannot say with certainty that your fear is without merit. However, even if you were to discover that your differences are too large to resolve, you’d find that out eventually, whether you attend therapy or not.
That said, therapy helps many couples discover how similar their needs, desires and relationship goals are. I serve as a guide as you develop new, stronger agreements, goals and strategies.
If you do not address your differences, it can lead to further disconnection Your issues are unlikely to go away on their own. Left unexpressed, emotions can become bottled up and/or eventually vented aggressively.
In the event that you do discover you can’t and/or shouldn’t reconcile your differences, I can help you part ways compassionately. Counseling can help you maintain respect, dignity and good will toward each other so you can protect yourselves and your children from the negativity that often comes with divorce.
I’m afraid that you’ll take my partner’s side and that I’ll feel even more frustrated and alienated than I already do.
I can assure you that I do not take sides. What I will do, however, is provide active, honest feedback and guidance to both you and your partner. I believe in fairness, respect and balance, and will work to help you and your partner achieve those things both in my office and in your relationship overall.