The wine glasses clinked from four directions and we said, “Here’s to new relationships!” My husband, our long-time friend and his new lady-friend, and I were enjoying a nice dinner. The point of the evening was to get better acquainted with this new woman in our friend’s life, and it was delightful to see the pink-tinged blush of discovery on their faces. Each of us has walked the road of lost-loves through divorce or death. Eventually the topic turned to the sometimes difficult task of joining families when there are adult children involved.
When my husband and I began to talk about living together prior to marriage, he called a meeting with my two teenage children. I wasn’t invited. He wanted a chance to talk with them without worrying about how I might react once the discussion got underway. It turned out beautifully. My kids had a chance to ask very direct questions, and he had a chance to respond. Our “merger” went smoothly after that.
I know that isn’t the case for many couples who are finding love with a second partner. The adult children have a hard time letting go of the life that was even when they understand that it no longer exists. There can be resentments as the new partner “takes Dad’s place” or “takes Mom’s place.” Our friend said his grown sons had given him their blessing to move on after their mom passed away last year, but his new lady said she was having a bit more of an issue with her kids.
I don’t have the answer, but I do believe attitude is key. My husband promised not to be another parent to my kids. He deferred parental decisions to me. But! He did ask for and received respect. It went both ways. With any change come ripples. My husband wasn’t trying to take over my family, and I didn’t try to push myself into his. We walked side by side, kept the communication flowing, and with love made a new life together.