Monday, October 24, 2011

The first step towards a future blended family: Start dating!

So, you are headed for divorce and wondering what to do now. It is a sad time and your mind probably wanders to the future, and to ideas of remarriage and the thought of forming a blended family with the man or woman of your dreams. Well, not so fast!

Stop and ask yourself these questions first:

Is it really over?
Is the divorce pending or final? If it isn’t official, have you tried marriage counseling? Make sure your wanting a change isn’t being driven by a desire to save what you already have.

Is there a separation agreement?
This helps you divide property, assets and debt, and also addresses child support and visitation. Consult an attorney if this isn’t done yet.

Have you removed your belongings from the marital home?
Adults often intentionally leave items like family pictures on the walls, in hopes that it works to ease the transition for the kids. It actually ends up confusing them. Work out an agreement with your ex to divide all household property. These details should have been worked out in your written agreement, but if they weren’t, don’t wait to address it. Hire a couple of friends or a mover and get it all done in one trip.

Have you forgiven your ex-spouse and yourself yet?
You may feel that your ex was the primary reason your marriage didn’t work, and you may be right. However, a marriage involved two people, and both must take a portion of the blame. You will find yourself constantly ill if you harbor ill feelings against anyone. Think through what happened and decide what you might have been able to do to prevent it. Forgive yourself and forget about it.

What can you offer someone new?
A divorce will leave your self-esteem at an all-time low. Take a look at yourself and analyze what you can offer to someone new. Jot it down and add items until you have a list of at least 30 good qualities you possess. Ask friends and relatives to help if you wish. 

Have you taken a look in the mirror?
You don’t have to reinvent yourself, but when we get stuck in a routine, we often let fashion pass us by. Head down to the mall and check out what is on display in the windows. Does it resemble what you have in your clothes closet? If it doesn’t, then it’s time to spruce up your wardrobe. It is also a great time to start exercising and get a new hairdo!

Have you lost touch?
If you plan to start dating, you will need some interesting things to talk about. Get yourself familiar with current topics and events. Mix in some discussion of recent news events with a little information on yourself and you will be well on your way to a great first date!

Lastly, make sure you have your story ready. Your first date may ask questions about your divorce or children. There is no reason to provide details, but just be prepared with a non-judgmental and brief explanation.

The Blended and Step Family Resource Center has resources to help blended and stepfamilies, including licensed professional counselors who offer coaching to blended and stepfamilies, as well as those engaged to be married and become blended families. Founded in 2006 by internationally known author and conference speaker, Shirley Cress Dudley, the center focuses on the need for effective counseling and other resources aimed at helping blended and stepfamilies become strong and successful.

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