Deciding to start a family can be one of the most exciting decisions you make. However, when the man you wish to share a home with has been married before, there may be some extra work involved in getting off on the right foot. You need to demonstrate that you accept his past and love his children. Your support and understanding will be the foundation for a successful new family.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of starting a new life with a divorced man is acting as his support. Larry O'Connor, marriage and family therapist, discusses the challenges that divorced men face in his article, "Men's Challenges with Separation and Divorce." Typically, men are left without a lot of emotional support after a divorce. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy or heartache. Being supportive of the fact that he may still experience hurt from his divorce and giving him the love he needs to start fresh will be a giant step toward a new beginning.
Placing vs. Replacing
Claiming your place in your man's life and mind may seem like a difficult task. Remnants of his ex linger in his tastes and aversions. Rather than try to replace the memories and preferences of his ex, create your own. Repetition and familiarity are a big part of marriage. Undoing the habits formed from being in a marriage is a challenge. Don't take offense if you can't easily jog him out of his old habits; he has become accustomed to a certain way of life. Work together to form your own unique lifestyle.
If your man has children from his previous marriage, it is important that you play an active, yet modest, role in their lives. Their father's creation of a new family can be difficult for children to comprehend. Your kindness and openness to his children, regardless of their response to you, will pay off down the line. In an article for "Psychology Today," Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., states that the less you respond to or resent children who resent you, the more common ground you will have with your spouse. Respect your man's time with his children and shower them with love and support.
Divorce is not easy for anyone involved. Don't let yourself enter into a relationship with a divorced man with unrealistic expectations about how he will act. He may still have unresolved feelings of grief and thoughts of his ex. Help him heal by showing your unconditional love and support. Work with your man, not against him, in his efforts to adjust to a new way of life.