VIDEO: How to Manage the Biggest Threat to Happiness for Remarried Boomers

Helping Partners Deal with the Corrosive Power of Stepfamilies

Patricia Papernow

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, and extended networks of decades-long relationships that need to be included in the picture.

When each partner feels like an outsider with the other’s family, both begin to question the viability of their new love. And conversations about what to do can turn quickly to defensive and angry confrontations.

The stakes are high. That’s why we turned to Patricia Papernow—expert on gray divorce and remarriage among Baby Boomers—for insight on helping boomer couples successfully blend families that already have decades of well established patterns.

In this video, Pat shares a compelling example from her own clinical work. She paints a powerful portrait of the problems recently remarried boomers face and she models the therapist’s role in helping them deepen their connection as they navigate stepfamily relations.

Watch it now.

You may be seeing more couples with stepfamily problems like this one in your own clinical practice because the overall divorce rate among couples over 50 has more than doubled in the last 15 years and with an extended lifespan, more and more boomers want a second chance at marital bliss.

Pat shares what she sees in her current practice here:

I hear a lot of different themes from people. Sometimes it’s, “You know, I hit 59 but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life feeling unloved.” Or “I got sick. I got cancer and the last person I could talk to about it was my wife, and that just didn’t seem right.”

The majority of gray divorces are initiated by women, so I will hear the guys say, “It hit me out of the blue. We’ve been married 27 years…suddenly she wants a divorce.” And sometimes there has been enough of an erosion in connection so that an affair happens. “You know I was talking to my coworker about my cancer and I forgot what it’s like to be listened to. I didn’t mean to fall in love.”

Stay tuned for more clinical wisdom from Patricia in our upcoming video blogs.

Did you enjoy this video? Check out Patricia's article, "The Remarriage Triangle," in which she offers concrete strategies for working with later-life recouplers and their grown children. You might also enjoy our recent issue, Should This Marriage Be Saved?: Therapists and the Dilemma of Divorce, which includes reflections on the "divorce revolution" and lessons on ending marriages amicably, from renowned couples therapists Bill Doherty, Terry Real, Tammy Nelson, and more!

Topic: Children/Adolescents | Couples

Tags: boundaries | divorce | divorces | families | family | intimacy | learning | psychotherapy | relationships | resistance | sex | sexuality | stepfamilies | stepfamily | talking | therapy

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