When it comes to families we often strive to create a good ole fashioned traditional one. When I think of traditional families It means two parent homes, a wife who takes care of the house (mostly), a husband who is the main bread winner and handles the outdoor stuff, a mom who provides a majority of the nurturing and a dad the discipline (and takes everyone on a great vacation every year). That is the ideal most people were presented as the family to aspire to.
Blended families are not traditional families. If you put pressure on yourself or your children or your spouse to be more traditional, the kind of tradition you end up with is one of perpetually frustration filled family events. It will be the tradition to argue with each other at Thanksgiving or Christmas or any other holiday or other event pressured by past family traditions. You will not look back fondly at the memories of your annual holiday fights...I mean holiday parties.
There is an old proverb that says "hope deferred makes the heart sick". A question for you to ponder: why hope for an ideal that isn't you anymore? The more you hope for what you cannot obtain, the more grievous you will feel. This kind of unresolved grief only causes more pain, disappointment and disillusionment.
Let me give you some examples. A stepdad (and dad) wants the whole family to be present for Thanksgiving so uses guilt or anger to make sure his stepkids stay at his home rather than their scheduled time at their biological dads. A mom (who also happens to be a stepmom) tries hard to make Christmas perfect (traditional family perfection) so in order to accomplish this she expects her children and stepchildren to act happy and joyful and certainly grateful. While these expectations sound reasonable, they are far from it. If you have been remarried for more than a couple of years, you know what I am talking about. These examples and many others lead to lots of frustration and disappointment.
Of course tradition in the family extends beyond Christmas and Thanksgiving. Ask yourself how you are attempting to maintain old family traditions and at what cost? Stepparents should never be asked to take on the role of traditional parent to stepchildren. These kinds of roles take a great deal of time and intentionality to develop. Children ought not to be pressured into treating their stepparent just like a regular parent. These relationships take equal amounts of time and planning.
I don't mean to state the obvious here but direct your focus on what might not be obvious to you. Take a step back from some of your family or marriage conflict and see if any of it is influenced by traditional expectations. Ask yourself what you more deeply desire for your family and marriage? Is it contentment? Companionship? Think about how the expectations you are pushing are actually keeping you from these desires.
With mutual patience you can acheive these kinds of desires if you are open to new traditions that embrace you and your marriage where you are at. People resist more when they are pushed or held back. Let go of the expectations of how things used to be or the roles that used to apply. When everyone in the family begins to trust in this new kind of freedom, they will be more inclined to engage positively in your new blending family traditions.