The holidays are expected to be a joyous time full of love and caring. Often, however, they don’t live up to expectations and in fact can highlight what is missing in people’s lives.

If you have been through a divorce and have now found love again, you might be dealing with the ups and downs of combining your family with your new partner’s. Add sibling rivalry, inherent in every family, often gets added to the mix, layering on complications and challenges to that love and caring.

The rivalry may even carry over into adulthood, as I describe in my book Adult Sibling Rivalry: Understanding The Legacy of Childhood. Each child is already trying to get their fair share of love, attention, presents, food—and now they have to compete with stepsiblings for it all. If they didn’t think they were getting enough before, the sense of having to share what there is can lead to an underlying sense of resentment, stress, and being on guard.

Celebrity couple Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have talked openly about the experience, including getting details right with their old and new families, and said they are both hopeful they will have a wonderful holiday season. “They have to sort things out with both sets of kids and exes,” a source told Entertainment Tonight. “But they would love to have all the kids
together with them as one big happy family and are working on that now.”

The goal is to create a new feeling and sense of family, a reconceived “us.” You don’t want it to feel like two separate families living under one roof, but, instead, one big family unit. What are some strategies for achieving that?

Holidays are infused with traditions; everyone has them. When two families come together, that can mean different takes on how to celebrate, which can sometimes clash. Maybe you and your ex opened presents on Christmas Eve, but your new partner prefers doing that on Christmas morning. Perhaps one of you always had a turkey dinner that you looked forward to all year, but the other had roast beef, and that’s what they want.

It can be extremely helpful to openly review each partner’s tradition to decide which are most important. Then it’s time to talk about creating new ones—perhaps a new time to open gifts or a different meal. There are some traditions, of course, that each partner will want to continue—requiring a spirit of compromise in talk through possibilities. It may be possible to
accommodate either or both sets of traditions, or to alternate preferences each year. Maybe both turkey and roast beef can fit on the table this year.

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Dr. Jane Greer; Marriage and Family Therapist

#Sharing #Love #Jane #Greer