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About 43% of all marriages are remarriages for at least one of the adults.

About 75% of remarriages involve children from the prior marriage, thus forming "stepfamilies".

The 40's may be the new 20's, so while we're going out on limbs, let's say that remarriages are the new "Ozzie and Harriet’s", or at least, opportunities for such.

This past April, I took a trip to Costa Rica with my husband and good friends.  While there, we spent some time at a hot springs located at the base of an active volcano.

The perfect metaphor for remarriage and stepfamilies.

The frequent spewing that seems to be a natural occurrence of combined families wasn't on my mind when I stepped into a hot springs where another couple was soaking the lazy afternoon away.

We began small talking and the couple shared that they were there for the wedding of his daughter.  My "married with baggage" radar went up as I was curious as to who else was coming to the wedding.

My curiosity was short lived as family members joined us in the hot springs and one of them was the MAN'S EX-WIFE'S CURRENT HUSBAND.

Let me say that again.

One of the family members was the MAN'S EX'WIFE'S CURRENT HUSBAND.

Everyone had smiles on their faces as they told me that they were all staying together at the same hotel...he and his wife, his ex-wife and her husband and their children, his children, his ex-wife's children and he and his current spouse's children...I needed a chalkboard to diagram it out.

They were spending the days before the wedding together...going on wild zip lines, rafting, hiking and horse back riding.  

In the middle of our conversation, the bride stopped by, and was radiant as any bride should be.

Her ease with her father and stepfather was as natural as our surroundings, and my heart was filled with love and hope.

I realized that I was with actual GROWN-UPS who had all traveled to Costa Rica from New York and other parts of the country to celebrate the wedding of a beautiful daughter who was also a stepdaughter.

The bride and groom didn't have to split their time between her mom and dad and the various families that have sprung up from all the family systems.  

The groom's family was there as well, and the focus was right where it should be:  on the young couple and their upcoming special day.

Unfortunately, for the majority of people in remarriage, this type of maturity and graciousness are as rare as many of the endangered species living in the jungles of the Costa Rican rain forests.

What does it take to be a grown-up?

1:  Clean up your side of the street:  Get real honest and own your part in examining whether or not you contribute to any tension when your children are around you and your ex.  You can't change anyone else, but yourself.

2:  Stop expecting other people, especially your children, or magical thinking to take care of you.  You are the ultimate mother/friend/lover to yourself.

3:   You don't have to fake feelings like love or respect, but you can continue to remain open, kind and compassionate.

4:  You can make the focus your children's comfort, and not on how difficult the situation is for you.

5:  You can accept that people move on with their lives, and this may include your ex-spouse remarrying and actually being, God forbid, happy.

When it comes to marriage and mixing up these lumpy families, the gift of being a grown up is the best gift we can give our children.


*I am available for in-person sessions and telephone coaching for those in remarriage, marriage or going through the challenging transitions of divorce.  You can contact me at [Link Removed]

Mary, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote Jul 30, 2008
    • You should of taken a picture of that family, we would of framed it and posted it on our site for all to see, after all how often does this happen?

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Kelly-Williams, M.A. wrote Jul 31, 2008
    • Yes Yana,

      I should have also gotten their e-mail address.  I would have liked to stay in touch with them.  I’m in the process of a book proposal on remarriage and would have liked to have gotten more info from them.

      They were a true inspiration, and if people would keep their children’s best interests in mind, there would be a majority of families like them...not the rarity that unfortunately they are.


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