The Blended Family

More and more our society is learning to have to embrace “the blended family.”  When you are divorced and still have responsibility in raising your children, it can be so difficult to go about dating again.  You already know all too well the effects of a marriage gone bad, the effects on you… on your kids.  You aren’t wanting to rush into anything permanent – and I think that’s good.

When you are dating, if you are looking for someone to have a relationship with, there are some crucial things you need to think about.  I understand many that go through divorce (especially a recent divorce) vow to actually never marry again, but the fact is, you just don’t know how or when you will fall in love again.  😉

Therefore, in my matchmaking mind that wishes for a perfect love affair for each of you, you need to be prepared, there are amazing second marriages out there, but you can be sure they avoided certain pitfalls.

  1. You may want to wait to tell that you have children, although if you’re dating using an online forum, it’s too dishonest to leave off that information, therefore you’re forced to include it.  But if you meet someone at work, at the gym, coffee shop, and you get a number… you do not have to scream as she/he walks away “BY THE WAY I HAVE CHILDREN!”  Lest you want to look like Will Ferrell, you don’t need to include this information just yet, you want to wait until the attraction and tension builds up.

The first date is the perfect time, when you’re naturally getting to know each other.

2.  If you’re a divorced man, it’s harder.  You need to take the initiative (on the first date, after you’ve talked about what you and her do for a living, you have to bite the bullet and tell your date you were married before and have X number of children).

3.  You don’t want to go into detail, maybe it was a horrible messy divorce (what divorce isn’t?), she doesn’t need to know all that information yet at all.  Don’t talk about your ex, even if you’re not completely over the experience yet and still harbor deep emotional feelings of love/hatred, your date DOES NOT need to know… yet.

Let their attraction and love for you grow so that they understand more who you areYou are not your divorce, there’s more to you, and that’s why you must hide those strong emotional feelings.  The feelings will eventually go away, you’re going to get past it, so put your best foot forward.  Again, you just don’t want to make a Will Ferrell-epic mistake like that.

4. Wait a good couple of months before letting them meet your children… more if you feel she/he’s not long-term.  This is critical.  You just can’t allow your children to begin building emotional attachments to people who might only be in your life for an extremely short amount of time.  You value your children, I’m sure you do.  So value their sensitive minds by not bringing someone around them unless you’re certain this relationship is doing well and progressing toward a long-term set-up.  2-3 months of a steady (regular dates) is a pretty good time frame.

5. Make sure this person understands your commitment and responsibility to your children!  For women, this is much easier, you probably have custody, your date knows you are committed to them.  For men, I’m so sorry that y’all constantly get the shorter end of the stick, you will be faced with childless women who won’t understand this.  You more than likely don’t have custody, and have to work out with your ex the time you get to have your children.

For men, you need to cling to this time that you actually get to enjoy your children.  You have incredible responsibility to them, and just because you are divorced does not mean that they don’t need you, no matter what our courts say or your ex wants… your children need you.  It’s great to involve the woman your dating (once you’ve established she’s worthy) in your children’s life – you need to see how she interacts with them, and how they interact with her.  The same goes for divorced women and the man their dating.

For men without custody, you want to avoid the pitfall of marrying someone who won’t want your children around once she has her own (if she’s planning on children).  This is something you need to talk about when dating, of how you will still be very involved with your kids from a previous marriage, even if you have younger more demanding kids from a marriage with her.  You don’t want your children to have a step-mother who puts her own kids above yours! 

It really happens, much of the time, and the only way to avoid this pitfall is to be clear on your expectations while dating that if you have them for the summer, they will be at your house all summer. 

Being a newly single divorced man or woman is hard.  You’re lonely, you miss the closeness and familiarity that marriage brought, I understand.  But you owe it to yourself NOT to rush into anything.  Value your children, be thankful that you have whatever chance you have to still affect their life with your presence.  Don’t give up on love, there’s always hope. 🙂

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