Having been a single mother for several years, I decided to take the plunge and get married – again! Saying “I do” a second time, especially when the first one was such a monumental disaster, seemed very challenging, and even more so since my children were involved. However, I am here to tell you that my little family and I are living proof that it can be done and with the least amount of damage possible, potentially saving you thousands of dollars off your future therapy bills.

All jokes aside though, here are some steps you need to keep in mind:

1. Take your time

While people need to a couple of years to heal after a divorce or the death of a spouse, they forget that the children need healing time as well. So take your time before dating again, for both your sake and theirs. Once you do, things will fall naturally into place. Let your children get to know the new person in your life and the more serious you are about them, then the more they should all get involved as well.

2. If you’ve decided to get re-married, build the step-parent relationship

A long-term relationship is healthier if it’s heading towards marriage. While the two of you get to know each other, you need to remember that dating is nothing like marriage. No matter how much fun you’re all having, marriage means a major and quite shocking shift for parent, step-parent, and children right after the wedding! So once you know it’s serious, start working on the step-parent relationship. If your children are young, then attachments are easily made so make sure this future partner is the one. A word of advice: it is best to remarry if your kids are under 10 or over 16. The last thing you want is making this major change when they’re going through their dreadful teenage years.

3. Remember to be sensitive to your child’s loss and loyalties

No matter how great you feel in your new relationship, keep in mind that your child is suffering yet another loss. It could be a fear of losing their deceased parents’ place in their home. It could even be the loss of a dream that “Mommy and Daddy will get back together.” Be patient and be sensitive to this new loss; here, your child may even be experiencing an emotional tug-of-war if they like your new spouse a lot and their conscience is questioning their loyalty to their other parent. Never force them to take sides and give them time to decide how they want to act around the new step-parent.

4. The Balance that Binds

Your children have had you as the center of their universe for a while and now they have to share you – a concept close to any child’s heart! You have to play a balancing act so delicate that you’d think you should’ve joined a circus. Love your children and your spouse, but for the first phase, love your children more in an obvious way. Your spouse should understand that you may need to give them more attention to ensure they feel secure. A few months of this charade and you’ll be able to hold hands with your new spouse without your child running to grab the other one – I guarantee it!

5. Finally, some phrases to use in times of trouble:

- It is perfectly alright to be confused about new people in your life
- I love you
- It is perfectly normal that you sometimes feel sad about the divorce
- I love you
- You don’t have to love my new husband/wife but you definitely have to treat them with respect as you would any other adult
- I love you
You don’t have to take sides (in the case of two homes)
- I love you
- While you may be living in two homes, you have to respect and abide by the rules and routines of each home while you are in it
- I love you
- It’s normal if you feel stressed with this new change now but it will get better, I promise
- And again, I love you. You can never say “I love you” enough to your child once you remarry.

[Images via here and here.]

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