The Blending Blues: Facing the Reality of Merging Families

By Shauna Zotalis, M.A.

The pain of divorce can leave you feeling lonely, insecure, anxious, and filled with grief. So when you find another partner it can lift you up, fill you up, and instill hope for the future, for relationships, and for love.

You imagine all the ways in which you were unsatisfied in your previous relationships finally being fed and nourished. You have big dreams for the future and sometimes the relationship can move at a breakneck speed while you connect in new and exciting ways with a different partner. And if children are in the mix, then oftentimes as your relationship moves forward and gets serious some of these dreams come crashing down as the reality of the situation unfolds. You may have to deal with angry children not wanting a new partner appearing to replace a parent. Balancing a partner’s need to focus on their children and the necessity of co-parenting with an ex-spouse or partner may have you feeling left out, leading to resentment about the decisions made prior to meeting that impact you and your new family greatly. 

When it comes to blending, it is not easy. The myriad of other unwanted and unforeseen realities of blending families can oftentimes take the wind from your new relationship’s sail. Aggravatingly, peace and harmony ebb and flow as the family shifts into different phases over time so feeling like a cohesive family unit feels like a moving target. And this can create a space between you and your family as big as the sea for negative emotions like anger, resentment, jealousy, and fear to live, swirl, swell, and explode.

While getting help when the issues present themselves is very helpful, knowing what to expect before you blend can soften the blows that will surely come as you merge families. Even though many people are members of blended families and go on to create their own, so few people have information about the typical challenges they face and how to prepare, address, and move through these significant barriers.

Blending a family is a process. And creating cohesion takes intentionality.

For these reasons, I created Pre-Blending Family Therapy, a set program of 8-10 sessions for couples planning to blend families that will help you examine the common issues blended families face. The therapy program is comprised of a mixture of couples, individual, and family sessions and can also help the family begin to establish a new family culture. With remarriages having a higher divorce rate than first marriages, I am hoping that this new type of therapy will mitigate some of the foreseeable conflict that may lead to divorce or relationship dissatisfaction; thereby, enhancing your success as a blended family.

To learn more, visit the Pre-Blending Family Therapy page on my website.