Adjusting to Remarriage When Adult Children are Involved

Photo credit: jazzijava / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: jazzijava / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Marriage in itself is difficult to adjust to, let alone a remarriage where you bring with you additional “family” from your past marriage. You don’t want to, and you didn’t intend to, but it happens.

After the honeymoon period starts to fade in the background, “regular life” starts to take place and you begin to see differences here and there that you hadn’t noticed in the same way before. Eventually those differences, along with quirks and habits, and yes, even children from a previous marriage begin to make themselves known, and demand your attention.

That’s when the work of being remarried begins. That’s when you decide if you will find ways to blend your lives together to make it work. Many couples begin their marriage by fighting about these things, and their children, and never get beyond that stage until it and they, finally works a wedge between them (and sometimes permanently).

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can determine that you will work through your many differences and will find ways to blend your lives and families together, no matter what! But it will take determination, perseverance, prayer, self-examination, a call to maturity, and sometimes every ounce of strength that you have available for that particular season of your life, to make that happen.

“Stepfamily, secondary family, blended family, combined family, extended family, expanded family, nontraditional family —whatever you call it, it is work. And exactly how you work at it can be one of the most important determining factors of whether your marriage will become what you desire” (Drs Les and Leslie Parrott, from the book “Saving Your Second Marriage Before it Starts”).

Are you up for the challenge? We pray you are. And if you don’t think you are, we hope you will pray until you finally are. With Christ all things are possible.

If you are reading this after you have entered into your remarriage relationship, the vow you made on your wedding day demands that you do everything you can to “love, honor, and cherish” each other for the rest of your lives. What is past is past. But today is a new day to persevere through whatever challenges you may encounter to make your marriage a good one.

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 5:4, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.” You made a vow, now fulfill it. Do what it takes to make your marriage work.

It goes on to say in Ecclesiastes 5:5-7, “It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, ‘My vow was a mistake.’ Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.”

Pray, stand, and follow God’s leading in making your marriage the best it can be. And then you will stand in awe of God. We’ve seen and heard true testimonies of that happening repeatedly.

But it won’t be easy, as you’re already finding out. And when you add children from a previous marriage into the marriage mix —even when they are adult children (and you thought they would be “low maintenance”, only to find out the opposite), the work ahead of you is even more complicated. It’s been said about words to an old song:

“Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage, but love and remarriage aren’t as neatly complementary. The carriage may be so crowded that the horse has trouble pulling it” (Susan Kelley).

So how do you make this work? How do you “blend” your family together? You do it by persistence. You keep looking, working, praying, and finding ways to make it work. You “never give up” as Winston Churchill is so famous for saying.

As Albert Ellis said about marriage and the “art of love”, it “is largely the art of persistence.” You keep persevering and persisting, that whatever problem arises, you will, by the grace and wisdom you obtain from the Lord, get through it, around it, over it, beyond it, or whatever, to make your marriage and family life together the best it can be.

We pray that this web site will help you with that mission and that the articles, links, and suggested resources will also help you.

So, to assist you with one aspect of your “blending mission” we are providing links below that will take you to articles posted on another web site that may help you with your adult step-children. Please realize that every situation is different, so please prayerfully glean through the information given and see what will work for you, perhaps adapting as God leads. I encourage you to read:

SECOND HALF STEP-FAMILIES: ADULT STEP CHILDREN

LATER IN LIFE PARENTING: Misconceptions of Inheriting Adults

DEALING WITH AN OLDER STEPSON

CHALLENGES OF ADULT STEPCHILDREN STRESS MARRIAGE

This article is written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.

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Filed under: Remarriage

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24 responses to “Adjusting to Remarriage When Adult Children are Involved

  1. (INDIA)  It is for my mom. She is 32 years old. She know all the housework and she cooks very well and this is my decision for her that she gets a better life partner who can look after her for the rest of her life.

  2. (US)  As Albert Ellis said about marriage and the “art of love”, it “is largely the art of persistence.” You keep persevering and persisting, that whatever problem arises, you will, by the grace and wisdom you obtain from the Lord, get through it, around it, over it, beyond it, or whatever, to make your marriage and family life together the best it can be.”

    …”Art of Love”. I really like that, as I would like to add, “…a picture is never finshed” “…a picture with a thousand words” …in what I take from this is how “we” strive to persisting. Have you ever been in a disagreement and say, “…I could have handled it better?” Well, take it a step further… “she’ll never forgive me for saying that!” Well, if you’re up to speed in what I’m pointing out, you definitely know that once you throw the paint on the brush, you better’d think again about putting it on the canvas, because once it’s there, it’s there. Persistance is not crumbling up the canvas and starting over, it’s learning to paint right!

  3. (USA) Help. My new marriage is 2 months old. 1 week after our marriage, we received my husband’s daughter’s wedding invitation in the mail. The invitation was written, “Mr and Mrs… husband and ex-wife (who kept the last name after the divorce). Multiple attempts have been made to discuss the issue w/ her. At first she hung up on my husband. Then she wouldn’t return calls. Only after I sent her an email directly to her did she call back. The discussion was very rude and abrupt w/ only a “sorry for the confusion” from her.

    I don’t know what to do. My husband is just hoping this will go away after her wedding. IT WON’T. I have tried encouraging him to go visit her to talk directly w/ her, and he hasn’t. I feel like I am the only one fighting for these relationships. I also don’t know to what extent the ex-wife was involved in all of this. She is not remarried and hasn’t dated anyone since the divorce. What do I do? Do I go to the wedding or take my own children away on a vacation? I have considered an annulment of the marriage. I don’t know that I would have agreed to marry him if I knew what a mess the situation really was. I love him dearly and want to work this out, but he has done nothing to resolve any of this. Help! Devastated

    1. I too am married to a man with adult children. It does take prayer to get through the problems and issues that arise in a union. If you’re willing to feel hurt and cry often welcome to marriage with a man with adult children. Love can be true but it takes true love for God to hang in there. My spiritual advice is in all things seek God first.

      My flesh says run for your life in order to live happy. The choice becomes to become happy, or to be committed and unhappy for life because adult children don’t disappear. Only if the husband is committed to the wife and not his grown kids can the marriage work. He can only do one correctly! Pray he choses you whom God gave as his wife.

  4. (UNITED STATES) I got married and my husband’s grown kids loved him and me. Then he got copd and needed o2 and one daughter in particular, refused to agree to it and she and I founght because my husband needed o2 to live. As a result she has nothing and I mean nothing to do with him or me, no Christmas gifts for him, no Fathers Day gifts, a total ignore of him. She told him that he is welcome at family gatherings but that I am not.

    Their mom divorced 20 years now, calls him several times a day and tells him I am no good. I worked two jobs, now quit one, but I work at his business and I do all the yard word and I clean the house and I pay most of the bills. I am 67 years old and my co workers tell me his kids in their 40s and his ex wife were here before me and that they are the most important ones –not me. We got into it at work because I said me and him are married now and his kids are grown with kids of their own and married themselves with kids, so life should go on. I think I should leave. What do you think???

  5. Dear Sister in the Lord, I have been a woman under much abuse in my marriage for over 15 years. I love and admire my husband in other good qualities in His life. I have forgiven much, and continue to forgive, since I myself need My Lord JESUS’s forgiveness. I do not and never will condone any kind of abuse. But I want to share part of my testimony with you. Because I have suffered a lot, GOD in His mercy, has drawn me close to Him in a special way. He has comforted me and loved me in so many ways, only those that have lived in my shoes would understand that kind of love and comfort.

    But at the same time GOD has spiritually spanked me and corrected in my wrong thinking and theology. When we are in abusive marriages or bad marriages for that matter, Satan comes and tempts us to violate our 1 flesh marriage vows and covenant that we have with our 1st spouse, especially if our spouse is unkind and unbelieving. Jesus taught us that except for fornication, we cannot put away or divorce our spouse. When we study the original meaning of the word fornication in Greek, we understand that it’s fornication between two unmarried people. SO what was our Lord teaching us? The Bible teaches us that whoever puts away their spouse or divorces their spouses to marry another, which is adultery, since they are still considered married to their 1st one flesh covenant spouse.

    The Bible teaches whoever marries the divorced commits adultery with them. So the innocent party cannot remarry either. Why? Because of covenant vows that represent the church espoused to their 1 husband who is Christ. That is why the Bible always teaches that marriage is a mystery compared to Christ and the church. Fornication as JESUS taught would fall under remarriages that are not one flesh original covenant vows that are considered adultery to their original spouses or fornication with a person who is not considered their spouse under GOD’s commands. Second marriages are considered adultery in GOD’s eyes according to scripture. You would say how is that possible, if you become a Christian after a second marriage and don’t know better. The word of GOD corrects our sins, and if we’re truly Christians, we will repent.

    Herod, who killed and murdered the greatest prophet of all according to JESUS, John the Baptist, was in a second adulterious marriage. John told Herod to repent of this second adulterious marriage. He never condoned it. In order for Herod and His adulterious wife to repent, they had to separate and live celibate or Holy unmarried for the rest of their lives, or Herodias Herod’s adulterious wife had to repent and return through forgiveness to her first husband. Herod had to return to His first wife, if He had one, through forgiveness and repentance or like I said, live holy unmarried. Fornication would under these such second remarriages or homosexual forbidden marriages, or in Jewish custom, there was a year of courting, and if the husband found His wife to be unclean or not pure, or fornicating, HE could put her away.

    Joseph, and Mary were an example of this. Joseph being a just man, wanted to put her away privately. Joseph was not aware at the time, that Mary was conceived of the Holy Ghost. So Joseph could put Mary away before their 1 flesh covenant vows were consummated through ceremony and intercourse. The disciples understood JESUS teaching, so they replied to our Lord, If this is so with the man and His wife, it’s better to not marry. Why? Because even if our spouse committed adultery it doesn’t give us the right to remarry and commit adultery, as well. We have to live celibate Holy and unmarried, or forgive our spouse and reconcile after much prayer and forgiveness.

    If you are in such marriages, I encourage you to carefully study the scripture and this topic with much prayer, fasting, reading of GOD’s word, to find yourselves approved rightly dividing the word of truth not being ashamed. Ask the Holy Ghost to guide you into all truth. My theology was so wrong, and because of abuse, I looked forward to my husband maybe committing adultery on me so I could move on and remarry what I thought would be a better spouse. I was soooooo wrong. I repented and GOD forgave me, but GOD has taught me to persevere, forgive 70 times 70, turn the cheek, love and fast for my husband. I do believe the Bible gives permission to separate if the situation is unhealthy and necessary, but never for lust or adultery. We ought to remain unmarried or reconcile to our spouse when possible.

    GOD bless you. Please pray about your current marriages. Though we have our carnal nature that desires to sin, as repented born again converted believers we aught to live Holy, not taking the grace of GOD as a form of liberality as the Bible teaches, not trample over the blood of JESUS. Eternity is forever to get this wrong. Fornicators and adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of GOD. Love you in the love of our beloved Savior YESHUA, Lord JESUS! Narrow is the way and very few find it, may we be found worthy of Him on that day! Blessings.

    1. Lupe, Blessings sister. I’m truly touched by your desire to please the Lord, the first lover of our soul. I commend any woman to fully submit her will to the Father, and live by the perfect will of the Father, that no doubt will differ in each case, although the Lord God’s commandments stay firm and true.

      I can relate to much of what you passionately expressed. I battled many of the same things, and the Lord had much work to do inside my heart to purify my heart, to refine my desires, whilst being married to my first husband which was outwardly such a wretch, As I was inside.

      Humbly, I must express, while there is no justification for sin, scripture clearly indicates that Jesus made room for re- marriage in the Lord, that they may serve the Lord together in Him, and live for Him together. 1 Corinthians 7:15 clearly states that if an unbelieving spouse departs, the one left is free to remarry, BUT only as lead by the Spirit of God. This may mean, as in your case, remaining unmarried if the Holy Spirit has not unfolded that in your life.

      In my case, I remained unmarried for a very long while, dealing with every attack of the flesh as a woman can endure. Not having any of my fleshly or emotional needs met by a husband, the Lord Jesus became my First, my last, my Everything. I now have a husband who loves Jesus and went through the same experience. We both place Christ first in our lives. We both endured long desert times while the Lord prepared us for remarriage in Him.

      I do know of others, who have felt convicted by the Spirit to to ever remarry. I so strongly Trust in the Lords perfect, very detailed care of each of His children, that no one is ever over looked and condemned to misery in Him. If all things are brought into his counsel, Him will make all things new. There is Hope in Christ, and freedom. Not TO sin, but to free from sin. Do as the Spirit instructs, exactly as He does. However, consider the full counsel of the Lord, and spend time alone with Him.

      I am not justifying any sin, as myself and my husband are both the innocent parties and both desire to serve the Jesus first. We both had accepted singleness, had the Lord choose that for us. I’m extremely grateful for my marriage. Being able to minister to each other intimately, in the marriage sacrament is a gift from the Father of Love. I’m a little saddened by the time I wasted spent thinking perhaps because I had been involved in divorce, I was shut out forever on earth from God design for men and women, and marital joys. I believe that is a lie from the enemy, further trying to trip us up, and embitter us.

      I pray that joy and freedom that Christ died for you to have unfolds as you continue to live in purity and in His will, not imposed by law or duty, but by the Grace that drew Your spirit to His to be unified forever. It is a right and good thing to exhort women to continue to love and fight for their husbands. However, this is not the first priority, Christ is. He will make all things new. He can and does heal and reconsile. He also allows things to die not of Him, and cuts off unfruitful branches as He sees fit. Both are Blessings from His hand. Love, in Him, Sister Trish

  6. I have been married to my husband for almost 2 yrs, my daughter is 16 now. He has verbally abused us in these past yrs and he’s not living with us anymore. My daughter never wants him to show his face again. If he gets help how can I get my daughter to realize that people can change if they try???

  7. I have a blended family, but the children are no long children. They’re in their late twenties and early thirties! Both of her children were raised by her as a single parent, but they have no respect for her, they both treat my wife horribly. The problem I have is that my wife continues to give… with no return in site. When I mean give, I’m referring to money. The problem I have with this, is I’m stuck with the financial struggles and stresses of paying my own bills.

    I don’t know what to do, but I’m ready to divorce her. When we were married, they lived on their own and worked jobs. Neither holds a job now, I make a fair income and now I have over 1000 per month in student loans and 1580 in rental for her daughter… I cannot continue to do this, but my wife insists on helping her, giving her as little as 200 dollar each time she needs money. The daughter said she is using this for school, but I have my doubts. When I question my wife or the daughter, she said she’ll kill herself and this tears at the heart of my wife for the fear one day she’ll take this action. I believe she uses it to get what she wants from my wife which in turn effect me!

    I would love for her to stop and call he bluff, but she won’t! I just want to plan to retire and the clock is ticking and I just want to be prepare to survive once I decide to stop working. Please advise what options I can take.

  8. I am remarried to a wonderful husband, my second marriage. He and I get along perfectly. My daughter has moved in and has thrown a wrench into our relationship. She expects me to choose her over my husband. Where I feel like I should because she’s my daughter I also don’t want to because I love my husband very much. She is 24 and very outspoken and headstrong. I need some advice before I go crazy!

  9. I am happily married for the first time to a wonderful man who was a widower, who I know loves me very much, he is 74 and I am 73. We have been married for 21/2 years. He has 2 adult children and I have 4, and I always put him first in everything that I do. He puts me first unless there is something that involves his children. He will be celebrating his 75th birthday in June and he informed me that his daughter and son will be planning the celebration.

    I think his children should have contacted me to see if I had already made plans or to see if I would like to be involved in the planning prior to discussing it with him. I would have not allowed my children to do this. Also there is an enormous wedding portrait (daughter) hanging in the living room of our house where I would like to hang our wedding portrait and he says he will take it down in time. Meanwhile I have suggested other places where he might put it (no more space in living area). Am I wrong? when I try to discuss these things with him he becomes very upset and stops talking. Yet he says I am first in his life.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  10. My wife and I get along well until her kids get involved. I keep a distance from my own children and only get involved if asked. I don’t allow my kids come to our house for extended stays. She loves her kids and grandkids to visit for as long as they like. Sometimes they come for weeks. I’m a very private person and we live in a small house and I get very annoyed by all the chaos. She spends hours on the phone with her daughters everyday. I’m getting to the end of my tolerance.

  11. My marriage is in grave danger, sadly… it went from the honeymoon stage to destruction almost overnight. I never thought that we’d be fighting over our adult children, but we are. We’re both lost souls right now, not looking to each other or God. We’re filled with blame and resentment and dislike for each other. It’s a horrible mess that I’m not sure has an answer. Any and all prayers are greatly appreciated.

  12. I’ve been married to my second husband for 12 years. He has 4 children in their 30’s. 3 sons and a daughter. I have two sons who are in their early 40’s, one married with children and one single living with his fiancé. I rarely hear from my children, once a month if I’m lucky. He on the other hand is on the phone with one or more during the week. They all share a mutual in fishing or hunting. He and I are both 67, and retired. The only thing that interests him are his activities.

    His one son will call him to go clambing and regardless of what we have planned… He goes with them. As he has a better offer. Now his other son calls and says lets go fishing for Cod, we have to cancel what we’re doing as the time with his children is always more important than me. The following weekend will be spent with his 33 yr old daughter camping.

    Now he’ll have to make room for his son who he hadn’t done something with for a while. This son actually attacked him. I’ve had it. I’m not dependent on children for my happiness nor should I ever have married this man who only thinks of himself. What do ther people think? Am I wrong to feel this way? When I go anywhere I must go alone, as he’s out with another kid. – Hunting

    1. There is nothing that compares to feeling alone when you are married. God says a man is to cleave to his wife… not his parents or children. I too have gone thru a divorce, remarried to a man with adult children. Why they feel they owe them their life I’ll never understand. I raised my children to give back to society. The greatest gift we can give our kids is the ability to succeed even if we are gone.

  13. I just “stumbled onto this website” looking for advice on how to help adult married children adjust to the remarriage of their parents. “Steve” and I both had happy first marriages, more than 60 years of marriage between us, and have been widowed for some time (15 years for me and 2 years for Steve). Although all of our children have expressed happiness for us, their emotional struggles with this change have begun to surface as we have begun to plan a wedding. The date doesn’t work for this one, this one expresses fear about the changes that will occur, another admits to feeling jealous, and so on.
    Thankfully, everyone is a professing Christian, so we do have a strong foundation on which to build, but Steve and I know that much wisdom must be applied in the process. I’d love some practical ideas on how to help this process along.

  14. When the children become priority over husband or wife that’s a sin. Sorry parents were divorced, but get over it and cleave to your own mate. Children are not to be a priority over God or spouse. Nobody or anything is for that matter. Let no man separate what God has joined together. Respect your spouse and pray for your kids and let God do His work. Children respect your parents. How can you expect God to forgive you if you won’t forgive your parents.

  15. Been married for 6 months and finally realized I am just the woman who married their dad. I will never be more, a painful reality for me as I love family. These are full grown adults still saying ‘daddy’, calling every day sometimes more than once. I find it strange and honestly feel he should live next to the grown kids and a girlfriend. Being the new wife I feel like number 2, been there before and didn’t like it.

  16. For me, time and Scriptures are the things that work best. My own 2nd marriage after I was in my 60’s was most difficult for the first few years because of my new husband’s grown children’s abusive treatment towards me. My new husband joined in on occasion because of his so-called “love” for them. Actually, my husband turned out not to be so nice in the beginning towards me… making faces behind my back, etc. But in time, we prayed together and talked about Jesus -it worked. My husband is kinder and has become nice.

    1. I’m curious what you’re referring to when you mention abuse? I too, have 2 step sons, who I feel are abusive towards me, but curious if it’s anything compared to what I’m going through. Each of their wives as well are “in on it” too…at least I feel like it’s that way.

  17. I’m a 56 year old second wife. I have two adult sons, ages 24 & 26. My husband has three adult children, ages 28, 25, and 24. My husband and I dated in high school and reconnected after my previous husband died of cancer. The problem isn’t really with the adult children. It’s with his ex wife. They were divorced for 10 years before we got married. The ex wife is very controlling, and as it turns out, my husband is also very controlling with his grown children. It seems they thrive on calling and texting each other about “misdeeds” of their kids.

    She and I were friendly at one time, until she started trying to drive a wedge between my husband and me. Also, she told me about times she’s made trouble for my husband and former girlfriends and ran them off. She thought it was so funny. Needless to say, I started seeing what type of person she really is. I’m sick and tired of not being about to go anywhere, or even watch a tv show with my husband without the ex texting or calling. Their kids even resent the two of them. My husband insists he must answer her calls because it “might be about one of the kids”. I may be crazy, but I’m really getting angry about this whole thing.

    I know for a fact, based on her history, that the ex is doing this to cause problems. She’s said things to indicate she’s jealous that my husband and I have a history that happened before she came along. On top of all of this, she’s married and has a child with the man she cheated on my husband with. Can someone help me understand what is going on?

  18. I’ve been married close to a year. My husband has two grown daughters ages are late 20’s and early 30’s. I’m a Christian woman and I’m doing the best I can in being a step mom to these grown daughters. From the time my husband and I started to date and after we been married his daughters were always asking for money. They never hardly call their dad unless they’re in need. My husband one of the daughters he was going to send some money to them for Mother’s Day what I thought was unappropriated because their not his wife and all I got for Mother’s Day was two roses. We have read Ephesians 5:33. Does this apply to grown children, as well?

    I have no problem if his children need money to tie them over to the next month for their rent etc. etc. My concern is if he was going to give them money without asking me and I’m his wife now? If I’m wrong I stand for correcting. Please let me know if I’m wrong. Thank you!

    1. Anne, you are going through something that A LOT of step parents are going through –the step children taking advantage of their parent, putting the step parent in a very uncomfortable situation. Also, there’s the problem of the step children getting more attention (whether financially, and/or physically) than the spouse who married into this ready-set family. I need to say that the problem you brought out here (I’m sure there are more) is problematic, to say the least. It can chip away at the bond of your marriage. We’ve seen many, many marriages eventually go down because of these types of situations. I would hate that to happen to you and your husband. You both seem like you are good-hearted people. You just need some extra guidance as far as how to handle these types of situations so you approach it as a marital team. You have to know that they will keep coming up again and again and again. That’s why you need an extra dose of help. It’s better to work on this now, than to try to do so when things pile and pile up in it’s destructiveness.

      I highly encourage you to reach out to a marriage-friendly counselor. If you don’t know one, we know a great one named Jeff Parziale. We’ve referred several people to him and they can’t say enough good about how much he helped them to get on the same page as a couple. You can reach him by going to: http://instepministries.com. You will see contact info on his web site. Please talk to Jeff (and perhaps even his wife). You seriously need to get past this bump in the road, which can/will turn into a mountain eventually to the point where you won’t be able to see the wonderful person you married. All you will see is a situation that seems hopeless to keep enduring. Please do this, whether or not your husband will. It might be best to contact Jeff first, and then see how he advises you to proceed in talking to your husband. This is just my humble opinion. I pray the Lord ministers to you and your marriage situation.