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One of THE MOST CRITICAL COMPONENTS to creating stepfamily happiness is for the couple to stand united. Today we’ll explore some of some of the essential building blocks to standing united:

  • Commitment
  • Appreciation and affection
  • Quality time spent together
  • Stress and crisis management skills
  • Effective communication

Commitment involves:

  • A promise and decision of significance and lasting value.
  • ‘Hanging in there’ when the going gets tough.
  • Walking life’s journey together through thick and thin.
  • Supporting your partner when they are experiencing a difficult time.

Appreciation and affection involves:

  • Caring deeply for your partner and expressing this frequently.
  • Being available for your partner in good times and in bad.
  • Showing respect for your partner in good times and in bad.
  • Physical demonstrations of love.

Quality time spent together involves:

You spend time with whom and on what you value. A thousand words won’t be as effective as quality time spent together. Spending time with your partner says: “I enjoy your company”, “I want to be with you”, “You are more important to me than my golf buddies.” If, however, your golf buddies (or anything/anyone else) take precedence over your partner or other people you profess to love, the message your partner (or other loved ones) receives is loud and clear. It’s a very painful message – others matter more!!

Successful stress and crisis management involves:

No-one can escape the stresses of the world in which we live and no-one in a stepfamily will be untouched by the special stresses presented by stepfamily dynamics. Some couples, however, deal with these stresses better than others. Those who manage stress more effectively are usually the couples who:

  • Have a strong and committed relationship.
  • Have strong values.
  • Have firm but flexible family boundaries.
  • Have realistic expectations.
  • Have good conflict resolution skills.

Effective communication is a two-way street that has the following components:

  • An ability to verbalise your thoughts and feelings in a non-threatening way and a willingness to listen in a way that lets your partner know that they have been heard and understood.
  • Openness to your partner’s experience; an ability to acknowledge their opinions (whether you share them or not);
  • Tolerance for differences and, last but not least, the courage to deal with conflict.