Determination, respect, acceptance, patience, and having a good sense of humor can improve a couple’s chance of success the second time around.
The best way to build a strong bond with your partner in a remarriage is to risk being vulnerable so you can develop a secure emotional connection. Emotional intimacy is the foundation of a successful second marriage. All relationships have tension at times, but it’s important to trust your partner and to use that tension as an opportunity to become more emotionally attuned and open about your thoughts, feelings, and wishes.
Happy remarried couples understand their own history and strive to understand and love their partner so they deal with the complications of remarried life. A newly created stepfamily or blended family can be daunting and it can take years for the family “norms” to take hold. Conflict and rivalries between family members – especially stepparents and stepchildren – can make day to day life stressful and chaotic at times.
5 Tips to Promote Strong Bonds in Your Remarriage:
1. Establish rituals of connection. Make a commitment as a couple to connect on a daily basis. For instance, consider a daily ten to fifteen-minute chat over a cup of coffee in the morning or going for a walk at the end of the workday. In his book The Intentional Family, Bill Dougherty discusses “rituals of connection” as an important means of creating a successful marriage. It’s a way of regularly turning towards your partner that builds trust.
2. Establish an open-ended dialog regarding concerns of ALL family members. Don’t be surprised if some of your discussions are heated – especially around hot-button issues such as money, custody plans, chores, vacations, etc. Remarried couples bring emotional baggage with them from their first marriage so be sure to set ground rules for respectful conduct such as “No name-calling or yelling is allowed.”
3. Don’t let resentment build. Express thoughts, feelings, and wishes because ignoring a problem can lead to anger and eventually overshadow positive feelings toward your partner. Take a risk and deal with hurt feelings – especially if it’s an important issue rather than shutting down. Doing this allows you to be a good role model for your children and stepchildren. Respectful communication is especially important in a remarried family since your kids probably did not observe this before their parents’ divorced.
4. Learn to apologize and practice forgiveness. Apologize even if you didn’t mean to hurt your partner, child, or stepchild’s feelings. Be sure to be specific about what you want to make amends for and say something like “I hope you will forgive me for calling you a name because I really care about your feelings.” Granting a partner forgiveness isn’t the same as condoning the hurt done to you but it will allow you to move on. Try to remember you are on the same team.
5. Don’t issue ultimatums such as “I’m leaving if things don’t improve.” Take the “D” word (divorce) out of your vocabulary. Make a commitment to stay together (unless there is abuse) and accept that there will be ups and downs. Discuss expectations to avoid misunderstandings.
Honesty and communication are aspects of a successful remarriage. According to author Marcia Naomi Berger, many couples believe the myth that if a marriage is healthy all issues get resolved. She writes: “Simply put, it is not the presence of conflict that stresses the relationship; it is the manner in which the couple responds. Positive, respectful communication about differences helps keep a marriage thriving.”
Additionally, relationship expert, Dr. John Gottman, advises us that happy couples don’t necessarily have less conflict than miserable ones. He informs us that 69% of problems in a marriage don’t get resolved but can be managed successfully. Gottman writes “Successful couples know how to exit an argument.” Discussing issues in a timely and respectful way will help you become better at repair skills, allow you to bounce back from disagreements faster, and build a successful long-lasting relationship.
After all, when people get remarried, they carry baggage from their first marriage that can cause them to sabotage a new relationship if they haven’t healed and worked through the issues that contributed to the demise of that relationship. Add to that baggage is the realization that there are often a lot more players in a second marriage – such as children from former spouses, step-children, and sometimes even new children from this marriage. Couples also often rush into tying the knot without truly getting to know each other.
Successful remarried couples use productive disagreements, which are more like discussions than arguments, to improve communication. They’ve learned how to bounce back from the conflict in a healthy way. Learning to fight fair and repair hurt feelings is something that most happy couples have mastered.
If you embrace the notion that conflict is an inevitable part of a marriage, and that not all problems have to be resolved, you’ll bounce back from disagreements faster and build love, trust, and intimacy with your partner. Over time, many of the kinks in your marriage will smooth out and you’ll adjust and thrive in your second marriage.
Remarried couples can learn ways to build a solid foundation for their marriage. This strong connection along with the knowledge and tools to deal with the complications of remarriage are vital to achieving long-lasting love. Determination, respect, acceptance, patience, and having a good sense of humor can improve a couple’s chance of success the second time around.
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