FOR THE LOVE OF RELATIONSHIPS – Relationship challenges and celebrations 

I love holidays, especially delighting in Easter as the start of Spring, warmer weather, greener lawns and more outside events. I love the tradition of the Easter egg hunt, dressing up in pastels, going to church and celebrating new life in both religious and secular dimensions. What stresses me out is the potential of emotional and logistical strain wrapped up with holidays. Blended families, even with adult children with children of their own, can be stressful. Will everyone get along? Will the older grandchildren, on my husband’s side, enjoy the Easter egg hunt as much as the younger grands on my side? Where will people sit for dinner? Should the older children sit at the children’s table? Should we feed them first so they can play while the adults enjoy their dinner? Even for the most happily married couples, the holidays can be complicated and fraught with conflict and compromise. It is exponentially more tangled for parents and grandparents who are trying to walk the tightrope of pleasing all and making memories in a blended family. 

What we will do this year is plan well. The food will be plentiful, and there will be items that both children and adults enjoy. We will set several tables so individuals, families, siblings, cousins and stepchildren could arrange where they want to sit after going through the abundance of choices on the buffet. We will host the Easter egg hunt with the littles and a treasure hunt for the older ones. The older kids will be paired with a younger partner from their stepcousins so they could compete together. There will be prizes for all.  

Since there is a diversity of thought and even some animas regarding politics or religious traditions, we will make a pact to keep these types of discussions either limited or off limits. We need to try to maintain relationships, rather than being right. One of the strategies to keep stress low and connection high is to not be offended or sensitive about inartful or harsh comments that could be misinterpreted. We must try remembering that there is no guile in anyone, and we should seek to be graceful and forgiving with one another. We will expect everyone to act with emotional restraint, maturity and kindness making the time together peaceful and calm. We will continue to try new ways to connect with our growing blended family working hard to make them memorable, even magical, with so many moving parts.   

Divorce is never easy; the ensuing challenges afterward continue long after the breakup. When remarriage occurs, life gets complicated when there are children on both sides. Add to that, spouses of adult children and grandchildren on each side. Creating a new tribe and developing new rules, traditions and memories is challenging. The tribe we created is a delight, filled with diversity, grace and patience. This did not happen by chance. It was done with love, kindness and intention. Every holiday I am thankful for the foundation that has been built to create our new family. Happy Spring! joneen@myrelationshipcenter.org