- Be explicit. Talk through the different styles you each bring to the marriage and negotiate a compromise. Listen to the other and empathize. Take turns saying what solutions will and won't work for you, and be open to each other's ideas. Remember each of you are the expert on your own kids, and for kid-related decisions, the biological parent's preference needs to take priority in most cases. Try to find a win-win solution.
- Take time together. Regular couple time, focusing just on the relationship and having fun, is vital for success. This may require pulling back on time with friends and family, church, and other responsibilities. Kids take a lot of time, so the couple's alone time must be protected and preserved. Set aside time on the weekends without the children for yourselves, and try to take at least one weekend getaway per year.
- Talk through expectations. Both of you bring strong ideas from your earlier relationships about what you do and do not want to be like as a wife or husband and what you want your spouse to be like. It is not your spouse's job to make up for your ex-spouse's mistakes. It is both your jobs to identify and communicate your expectations of yourself and your spouse and negotiate any differences.
- Empathize with the kids and the ex-spouse. Like many aspects of remarriage, a great deal of maturity is required to do this well, perhaps more than most of us can muster up on a good day.
- Be flexible. This includes everything from discipline to money. Vacations and time alone together have to work around the kids' needs as well as the adults'. For example, if Mother's Day happens to fall on the father's weekend, the adults should flex so the kids don't have to do.
- Be open and honest about living arrangements. Typically in second marriages, both partners have established residences. Communication and compromise are necessary to solve the problem of where to live.
- Resolve your first marriage before God. Take time to resolve your first marriage through prayer, therapy, divorce recovery, and pastoral care. Divorce is controversial both in Scripture and in churches, and must be considered on a case-by-case basis to determine the type of pastoral care necessary for healing.
- Tell the truth about money.
- Be yourself.
- Be patient with the process of building a family.
- Kiss each other goodnight every night.
Copyright © 2001 by the author or Christianity Today International/Marriage Partnership magazine.
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Fall 2001, Vol. 18, No. 3, Page 55