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How to Deal With Adult Kids and Second Marriage Stress Issues

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

Most second marriages fail, according to social worker Terry Gaspard, writing for the Huffington Post. Reasons vary, including ghosts from the past, financial concerns presented by your adult stepchildren and the challenges that come with interacting with stepchildren, exes and extended family. The most common stressors are finances and stepkids, according to Nancy Kalish, Ph.D., an expert on rekindled relationships, writing for Psychology Today.

Stepparent or Friend

Your stepkids might never make your role easy, according to Gaspard. When they live at home, your time with your spouse is split with kid responsibilities despite their adult status. If they don't live with you, they might resent your couple-focused outlook and feel abandoned because you live too far away for frequent visits. Stepkids might also feel embarrassed by your sexual relationship, according to family sociologist Dr. Susan D. Stewart, Ph.D., in “Brave New Stepfamilies.” Try to be a friend to your stepkids and assure them you aren’t trying to usurp their biological parents’ place. Offer advice only when asked and provide moral support whenever possible.

Financial Concerns

Financial concerns are often near the top of the list for second marriages. Some adult kids might still live at home, necessitating merged households with the incumbent financial expenses. If the kids are grown, you might decide to sell the family home and move into a new home together to start your own memories. Either option can create stress to your relationship, according to Kalish. Your stepchildren could begrudge the money you and your spouse spend as an incursion on their inheritance, according to Stewart. You might also decide to forgo marriage in favor of cohabitation to prevent tax, social security and pension penalties or to maintain separate financial arrangements. Decide before the marriage how you will deal with finances, such as splitting up the bills and maintaining separate accounts, separate wills so each spouse can provide for biological kids separately or co-mingling funds and resources.

Rough Patches

Remarriage is like living with four spouses -- the new couple and their exes, according to Kalish. You might also be haunted by your parents’ failed marriage and your relationship with them. These and other issues can cause rough patches, writes Gaspard. Expect that holiday and family traditions might become complicated with exes and extended family in the mix. Hang in there and don’t give up too easily. Find ways to negotiate win-win solutions when possible using healthy communication strategies. Confront problems and resolve them rather than avoiding them.

Maintain a Healthy Focus

Focus on your relationship and where you want to go, advises Judi Light Hopson, et. al., in “Dealing With Adult Stepchildren Requires Strategy, Distance, Perspective.” Accept that criticism from family and friends are a part of the package. Don’t take things personally, if you can avoid it. Change is difficult and some parties will find your new relationship a challenge to the roles they previously enjoyed.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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