Friday, June 29, 2012

Workshop for Remarrying & Remarried Couples

Coming up in the Oklahoma City area: REMARRIAGE PREP
August 22 - October 3, 2012 (Wednesday - 7 Weeks)
Crossings Community Church
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Carri & Gordon speaking

"Remarriage: A Seminar for the Remarrying or Remarried Couple"
6:30 to 7:45 pm / Room to be announced
Crossings Community Church
14600 North Portland
Oklahoma City, OK 73134
For Information & Registration: email Sheila at Sheila at

Preparing and/or redesigning your relationship for success. Beat the odds and prevent re-divorce.

Few challenges in life are more difficult than bringing the pieces of broken families together. Past hurts, high hopes, pre-existing relationships, and different backgrounds can make this task incredibly tough.
This is a marriage where one or both bring one or more children of any age; whether or not they live with the married couple.

Knowing what to expect and what is “normal” for a stepfamily can reduce the pressure of unrealistic expectations. Understanding the territory and the skills required to negotiate the journey can facilitate the new family's development and promote lasting success.
Areas covered:
  • Psychological blind spots
  • The three top factors leading to re-divorce
  • Non-negotiables
  • Designing a relationship
  • Developing intimacy
  • Relationship development
  • Merging Finances and Possessions
  • Self and relationship identification through assessments
This workshop is for those with children in the following situations:
  • Single parents desiring to remarry in the future
  • Couples seriously dating
  • Engaged couples
  • Already remarried
  • Professionals working with the above population

Are second marriages more successful than first marriages?

Check out this video to see how Gordon & I answered that question.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Stepfamily weddings


My ex is planning a wedding. The wedding is planned during our visitation with my son. My ex has issues with control and manipulation. We are expected to allow my son time with the ex for the wedding. The ex knows that we feel it is important for my son to participate in this special day with his new family; however, we also feel that our visitation time with my son is important as well. We want to do what is best for my son without giving into the manipulation of the ex. How do we work out this situation in a healthy manner?

Principle: What is the best for the child? Not knowing the age of the child and assuming you and your ex can talk peaceably about the situation, here are some thoughts. First of all, what does your son want to do? Again this is age appropriate. Next, how about taking your son to your ex's wedding? This doesn't mean you will attend, just deliver and pickup. That way you keep your son for the remainder of your visitation. This means you are going the "second mile." When this is your decision, you take ownership and are not being controlled or manipulated. You are simply honoring a special event in his other biological parent's life.

Regarding age appropriateness; older children deserve to have permission to make their own decision. This should be respected by both biological parents. In the end, it frees the child up to move into these tough situations at their own pace and more gracefully. This would also apply to the involvement or lack of in the ceremony, etc. We know of children that have decided NOT to attend, or attend without having to participate. And..we know of children that want to be involved.

If stepcouples can look at this through their children's eyes they may realize that this is another loss for them. Their family has blown apart and they are living between two worlds. The stepcouple is in love and thinking this marriage will bring everyone together. This is an unrealistic expectation. Over time, good things can happen - but that's over TIME!

Basically, do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. In the end, all will benefit.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Custody issues / Step-in laws

I will be blogging Q&A from "stepfamily" events that we have spoken at. Hopefully, these will be helpful for you!

What have you learned about custody arrangements? What seems to be best for the kid’s stability during the school year?

The key to any custody arrangement is:
    • the absence of conflict between the divorced couple
    • the access of each parent to the child
    • keeping the child as stable and secure as possible
Given the trauma that surrounds divorce and/or death, the above is not easy. Plus, given the possible involvement of the legal system, problems are compounded.
It brings to the front the need for maturity, commitment to the child and most of all, good communication and conflict resolutions SKILLS. Children don’t get divorced – just the adults. The child is still dependent on the parents and impacted by their actions and attitudes (particularly toward each other).
How do you deal with rejection from the step-in laws step-kids?

The sense of rejection means we have expectations that weren’t met – or a condition that wasn’t satisfied. It’s called “love with a hook in it.” Many times we expect reciprocity or immediate gratification from our efforts as we move toward our step-relatives. However, these are “baby” relationships (new). These take time to develop. If we are trying, with our best intentions, to reach out, join and/or incorporate into the new step-system, we may be setting ourselves up for rejection or getting ignored. Others may not be ready to include us at the level we want to be included. Again, all of this takes time.

It is always more productive to take action that is right thing to do and release our expectations of the other parties involved. This requires maturity, relational SKILLS, and stepfamily education. Knowing what is normal frees us up to accept the territory we are in.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bedrooms / Gifts

More Stepparenting Questions:

How do you handle a living situation when your step-children are only at your home every other weekend or 4 days a month? We have one child together and my spouse believes his biological children should still have their own rooms even though they are only being occupied 4 days a month. Therefore, taking away from space that can be used for other purposes for those of us who live in the home full time. This also creates a financial burden of having a larger home in order to give the children their own separate rooms.

There is a lot of information missing here. But “Children First” is the principle we can easily ignore. We remarry knowing our new spouse had children and yet ignore the package that comes with them. Get creative! I believe that the children should feel welcomed but the room doesn’t have to be totally dedicated to them. When they are in your home the room is “theirs” and should be referred to as such. Appropriate privacy is important for them. When they leave the room can be used for multiple purposes. The attitude of the bio and stepparent is crucial. Trundle beds, folding beds, etc., are examples of being flexible. Most important: the children are already wondering where they belong and are the ones living between two worlds.

My husband buys birthday and Christmas gifts for his kids but always says he doesn’t have money when it comes to my kids. How do I address this?

Finances are the #2 problem in stepfamilies that leads to re-divorce. The first question is; do you have a financial plan that you put together? And, does it address how money will be spent on the kids? It is normal to be more invested in our bio-children. Bonding with stepchildren can take years, so unrealistic expectations up front can get in the way of step-relationship development.

Another aspect is exploring attitudes toward money. Finances can be the “playground” for power and control issues. Searching one’s own heart is important to see if I’m contributing anything to this struggle – or what part of the problem am I? Finally, it is the bio-parent’s responsibility to see that the needs of their own children are met – at whatever level.

About Me

Carri is a documentary film producer and communication skills trainer. She and her husband speak nationally on relationships, communication and stepfamily development.