Successfully combining families as part of remarriage is always challenging. But it's especially hard when older re-couplers have adult children, who may or may not be onboard with the new marriage.
When each partner feels like an outsider with the other’s family, the stakes are high. Patricia Papernow, an expert on gray divorce and remarriage among Baby Boomers, shares a compelling example from her own clinical work of how to handle this tricky situation.
Patricia Papernow, EdD, is the director of the Institute for Stepfamily Education and a psychologist in private practice. She’s the author of Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships: What Works and What Doesn’t and Becoming a Stepfamily: Stages of Development in Remarried Families.
Therapists need to be prepared to go against the conventional clinical wisdom in helping later-life recouplers and stepfamilies handle the unique challenges they face, Papernow says.
"Helping our clients in stepfamily relationships to meet the complex challenges they face often requires defying deeply held expectations about what successful family life looks like," she explains. "It’s still some of the most difficult and the most satisfying work I do."
Did you enjoy this video? Check out Papernow's article, "The Remarriage Triangle." You might also enjoy our magazine issue, Should This Marriage Be Saved?: Therapists and the Dilemma of Divorce, with material from couples therapists Bill Doherty, Terry Real, Tammy Nelson, and more!