When I was a kid, probably all of my teenage years, My dad had me working in his auto-body repair shop afterschool and sometimes Saturdays. Besides sweeping, cleaning the tools and...sweeping, I also spent a great amount of time sanding. Where there was rust or a dent the paint had to be sanded down to the bare metal. What does this have to do with #blendedfamilies? Stay with me, you'll see.
Dad would tell me, "keep the sander moving, let the weight of the sander do the work." He had a term-feathering, which was making the transition from the top coat of paint to the metal a slow, gradual one-more finished. If I pressed down real hard with the sander to get all the paint and rust off real fast, I would gouge the surface and then when he painted over it, it would look bad. I liked rushing the job so I could be done, get out and enjoy life.
When you are remarried, there is a desire to rush the blending work in order to get to the more enjoyable aspects of your new family. The problem with this strategy is that the finishing-feathering work needs time. You can't rush important detail work. In fact, when you rush, you might actually be setting yourself back. It might be one reason that so many #remarriages don't finish at all. Their expectations suggest blending into a good family should only take a few months or a couple years when actually it takes much longer.
Did you know the average #stepfamily takes more like five to eight years to develop a strong sense of family? The reason is that there are more complicating forces going on. The more you push to what you believe should be, the more resistance you will receive. Let your new #stepchildren have all the time they need to adjust to their new family. Again, the harder you push, the more likely you are to gouge. The more you gouge the more conflict, frustration, anxiety and feelings of insecurity will linger or intensify.
The next time you feel insecure with your new husband or wife, notice what you do that attempts to force security-controlling schedules even more, reactive anger or demandingness OR withdrawing out of your sense of hopelessness. Could it be you feel hopeless in part because your pushing yourself too hard? Slow down...way down. Taking the pressure off yourself, your spouse, and your children will help establish more of a culture of calm. This is where blending can happen.
When my dad came back to check my work and saw me gouging because of my impatience, I almost always ended up working until dark and all day Saturday-redoing my work the right way. It takes time recovering from the past but when you have four or seven or eight people going through this process together it simply takes longer.
You can allow yourself to be hopeful when you let go of your hardness and impatience. Your blendingfamily might have already experienced setbacks as a result of a number of family members unmet expectations. That is common-normal. Recovery still happens after these setbacks with intentional, patient work.
Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying do nothing. Be intentional and proactive with your blending processes. I could have simply stopped sanding and while there would be no gouges, there also would be nothing accomplished. This is about calmly pacing yourself and these blending processes more effectively.
Written by Scott Hendrickson, LCPC