Updated: Apr 13, 2019
Unmet expectations are the kiss of death in your marriage and in your blended family!
Even worse than unmet expectations is the total disregard to have the conversations in the first place to define them. I get it, you may naturally shy away from the tough conversations that could spark a disagreement, and defining boundaries is definitely, potentially one of those conversations. Equally rough is choosing to break the loving and romantic momentum by introducing touchy subjects such as this (especially in the beginnings of your relationship where everyone is in their wooing mode). The danger though is that once marriage happens, the lack of discussions such as these, will come back around to bite you in the ass, creating high stakes conflict...and guess what, it'll be too late to cut bait. If you don't start out on the same page you, as a couple and the leaders of your blended family, will forever be behind the eight ball trying to figure it out as you go (which will prove harder than need be if you would have just communicated effectively in the beginning). Children of a blended family need to start out seeing their parental units confidently united, not constantly floundering and fighting to figure it out as they go. The latter will not provide the security kids need to feel grounded nor the respect you will need from them to be effective parents.
We all have exceptions of any situation we are in, we just do. You need to understand and accept this. You and your spouse both will come into marriage and into your family lifestyle pre-programmed to seek and live out your individual expectations. You will protect and defend your ideals to the death because expectations are the very definition of your morals and values (both are worth fighting for). It is very important to be able to first sit with and clearly define your own expectations for your marriage and blended family so that you will be able to then constructively express them to your partner. YOU WILL LEARN SO MUCH ABOUT YOUR POTENTIAL SPOUSE JUST FROM DOING THIS IN BOTH HOW THEY LISTEN AND REACT TO YOUR DESIRES. In turn, you will need to allow your partner to do the same. Once you've both been able to lay out what you want in marriage and for your family, you will be able to see if you are compatible or not. In the things you differ, you will either need to choose a compromise or choose one person's expectations to be the golden rule. This is the point where you will construct the foundation that your blended family will be built upon. Doing this as a team may prove a battle of wills at times, but in the end it will bond you in such a profound and meaningful way. This is where you write the unique recipe for your blended family. If successful, people will want a taste and to know your secret ingredient(s)!
Where resentment and bitterness grows in marriages and in blended families is within the unmet expectations. Your expectations have zero chance of being met if you have not voiced them. Your expectations have zero chance of being met if you choose to marry someone who is not on the same page, nor willing to get on the same page as you. Be smart and don't set yourself up for failure by being a coward and not having the hard conversations before you walk down the isle or by marrying the wrong person.
Here are a list of some important expectations to consider before you get married and create a blended family of your own:
Parenting Styles and Rolls
Discipline and Disciplinarian Rolls: Is the bio-parent taking the lead? Is the step parent allowed to discipline and will he/she be supported by the bio-parent when doing so?
Rules of the Household (for the kids): Are all the kids being held to the same standards? What are the standards you wish to have set for your household?
Household Chore Distribution: Clearly define who is doing what.
Rooming Situations and Housing: Will kids be sharing rooms? Will you need to move to a bigger house? Are you able to or do you desire to move from the city/state in which you currently live?
Consequences: are all kids experiencing the same consequences?
Finances: Disclose debts, bills, accounts and create a budget. Define who pays for what.
Religion and Religious Practices: What religion are you going to practice and how often are practices such as church attendance expected to take place?
Sexpecations: How often do you realistically need it to be satisfied? How kinky?
In-Laws' Roll in your Blended Family: How involved do you want them to be? Will you allow your in-laws to move in with your family at any point? Do you and your kids get along with your in-laws and are they expected to call them "grandma" and "grandpa"?
Exes: Discuss how much interaction is necessary and set rules such as sharing texts/emails/conversations with each other. Do you need to discuss with your spouse first before deciding on something with your ex?
Custody Battles/Legal Battles: What is left to yet be faced/dealt with?
Vacations: How many do you want to take a year? How will you save/pay for them? Where do you want to go? Do you want kids to always come or do you want it to just be the two of you from time to time? Can the kids travel outside the country?
Meals: How does meal time look in your blended family? Who cooks? Any food restrictions or diet expectations?
School: Who is doing drop-off and pick-up? Are both parent and step-parent expected to attend all school functions together? Are kids going to have to change schools when your families are under the same roof?
Interactions with the kids' other parent(s): Do you embrace all sets of parents sharing holidays, parties, space at game/event together so that the kids can have a more "normal" life, or is this an uncomfortable and welcomed situation where clear boundaries need to be drawn?
Work: Do you want one parent to stay home or both work? What are your income expectations and needs? What are your retirement goals?
Names: What you you expect your kids to call your significant other? Mom? Dad? Just their name? A special nick name?
More Kids: Do you want kids together? Will you be fulfilled only having children that are his and/or hers?
If you've already done the deed and are married with kids already in toe, take the time and reflect on your marriage and your blended family. Take a pen to paper and list out your expectations for both and then list the realities of what life is. Ask yourself how well they match up. Be brave and engage your spouse in a meaningful discussion about the inconsistencies you see and open up a safe discussion on how you can go about reconciling them. Do not discount the importance of common goals; they will be your guiding light for your entire life together.
Love and peace,