Second Marriages and Step Families: Marriage Tips and Common Marriage Problem

In the United States, second marriages are common. Statistics show that 75% of those who divorce eventually marry again. About 20% of all American families are step families.

What percent of second marriages end in divorce?

It can be easily imagined if two sets of different families are put together under one roof, some problems, issues, and tensions can be created. Research shows that 60-70 % of blended families eventually fail. The divorce rates are higher than first marriages divorce rates.

Researchers re-categorized step families into two types. One is simple step families which include children from one parent, and another is complex step families which include children from both parents. Research indicates that the more complex blended family structures are, the more difficulties and challenges they face.

Each step family has different experiences and struggles. However, it is very important to examine your relationship before deciding to get married. It may not be a bad ideas to ask yourself and your partner 100 questions before marriage. Premarital counseling for a second marriage is strongly recommended.

Many people rush into marriage and remarriage. It is easy to get married but it is harder to maintain. Those who experienced divorce entered the second marriage within 3 to 4 years on average. Especially, for the step families, there are so many issues to think about and discuss before they decide to get together.

Children may not get excited about your relationship with your partner as much as you and your partner do. Children may need more time and space to process and transition to a new family life.

Here are some tips for step families.

1. Step children are different from biological children.

Even if how you raised your own children worked, it does not guarantee that the same techniques will work for step children.

2. Step parents can be a consultant, but they are not biological parents.

It will take time to bond and develop relationships with step children. If you are a step parent, you can start with being a consultant for your partner who is in charge of parenting her/his own children.

3. Increasing positive encounters with step children.

It is important to focus on building a trust relationship through non-threatening fun activities. Show interests in their hobbies.

4. Avoid power struggles.

You may want to gain authority over step children. Are you upset that they are not listening to you and/or do you feel that they are rejecting you? You are focusing on yourself, and power struggles kick in.

5. Rush into a new relationship?

Are you rushing into a marriage? Have you discussed problems/issues you and your partner may face and how to deal with them? You may want to justify the relationship, but it is very important to be logical and prepare for the new life with step families. Do not let your emotions take over.

6. Have couples and family meetings.

It is important to set clear boundaries, rules, and consequences. Always welcome concerns from other family members and discuss them in a constructive way. You and your partner should be on the same page regarding family rules and parenting.

Need family or marriage counseling? Click here

Need premarital counseling for second marriages? Click here.

Go back from this page to Marriage Counseling Home Page.