You date one person, but you marry a bunch. As you begin dating, you might want to inquire about all the others. Here are some of the extra people you acquire when you marry the man or woman you fell in love with and what to do about them after the wedding.
Your spouse’s children
They may someday view you as their bonus mom or dad, maybe even their “real” mom or dad, thanks to the great relationship you develop with them. However, when you first marry, they will more likely see you as competition for the approval, time, and affection they seek from their parent, maybe even as the obstacle to their family ever reuniting.
Schedule some of the things you do on your own (errands, chores, hobbies) for times when they can have some good time alone with their mom or dad (your new spouse). Schedule some time together with them, too, both with your spouse and without. And teach them how to find Third Alternatives with you when you and they disagree about house rules, outings, or schedules.
If you want to have a great relationship with them, make an effort to find things to like and appreciate about each of them. Pay attention to their talents and strengths. Unlike their birth parents, you can be the adult who encourages them to become themselves. It is a great basis for a long-lasting relationship.
Your spouse’s ex
There is no way out of it. If you marry someone with children whose other parent is still alive, you will have an ex in your life. You might also acquire an ever-present ex if you choose someone who left a depressed, addicted, alcoholic, or schizophrenic partner or one who made financial or personal sacrifices to help your new guy or gal become the success you now see.
If you expect you will dictate your spouse’s relationship with an ex, you will make yourself miserable over and over and over. All the reasons they are no longer together are reasons why your spouse will do things that seem utterly illogical to you to deal with today’s issues.
Your marriage may call on you to create a harmonious relationship with someone who pities or resents you. You will need to Assume Love from your husband or wife and find your way to understanding when your spouse’s desire to avoid conflict with an ex constrains where you live, how you live, or which days you can call your own.
Your budget, your peace of mind, your child-rearing practices, and your schedule will all need to include this person. Find some common ground if you can, and keep looking for Third Alternatives together.
Let go of any expectation that you can banish this person. An ex is family, like it or not. You work with or around their flaws.
Your spouse’s parents and siblings
If you marry, you will always have an adult-adult relationship with these people. Your spouse quite likely never will. Remember this. When you feel uncomfortable, check to see how much of it comes simply from your mate’s behaving in ways he or she almost never does around you. Your in-laws are already familiar with this behavior. What they are noticing is yours. Remain an understanding adult, and your relationship with them will be a much better one.
While it would be very nice if your spouse would defend you in any disagreements with his or her family, it is not all that likely. Instead, remember to look for Third Alternatives instead of stewing over what your in-laws ask for.
Close friends, old enemies, and friends of the family
When you say, “I do,” you say it to a rather large crowd. Your relationship with all of them matters a lot after you marry. Try to remember that your role is not to fix your spouse’s life, but to enhance it.
Be there for her or him when you can and be supportive from a distance when you just can’t. Protect yourself, your relationship, and your assets from the unethical ones and the ones with no boundaries. Talk openly with your spouse about your concerns, without criticizing your mate’s inability to see their flaws.
Over time, we all get better at dealing with the people life gives us. If you are a newlywed in shock right now, I invite you to join my teleclasses and ask for help. Whatever the announced topic, we always have time for other questions, and there are often several experienced husbands and wives on the call to join me in offering you what has worked for us.