The Bible, Divorce, & Re-marriage

Right or wrong, between 45 and 75 percent of all marriages end in divorce, and most of those divorcees will re-marry!

There’s no use dancing around the obvious point that most stepfamilies are formed from a controversial act: divorce. And there’s no way to avoid the fact that many religions—and therefore many religious people—have a problem dealing with stepfamilies.

Divorce and remarriage are tough fits in our world: the Bible says God hates them (Malachi 2:14-16), but our society encourages them and makes them convenient, so it’s just a fact of life we must deal with. It’s a fact, too, that there are many ministers and well–meaning folk out there who try to ignore — or worse yet, condemn — those of us who are in a stepfamily.

But the fact of the matter is that, while Jesus discouraged the practice (except in particular cases; Matthew 5:36), He never refused His care and healing power to any who sincerely asked for it. So, as Christ-followers (you know…“WWJD”), neither can we. (And by we, I mean both we in STEP- Carefully! Inc., and we as in you, if you’re a Christian!)

Jesus even demonstrated how to deal with this sticky subject. In John 4:6–30, Jesus reminds the Samaritan woman at the well that she’s been remarried several times…then He drops the subject and goes on to minister to her needs. And as a result, you’ll recall, an entire town came out to meet Him.

That’s the model we follow. While acknowledging that divorce should never happen, we accept the fact that it does, help as much as we can, and move on. We don’t have a choice, really, since everyone involved with our programs have been divorced, remarried, or have family members who have lived through it. That’s why it’s important to look for a church, a minister, a counselor, or a therapist who has had personal experience with the challenges of divorce, or who has an open heart and mind about it.

If you ever need to talk, please feel free to contact us. Been there; done that; got the scars to understand!

STEPcoach Bob Collins

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Published in: on December 16, 2016 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Why can’t most people be satisfied in married life?

As a teacher and mediator, I am often compelled to chime in on discussions online, in public forums, and sometimes just sitting in a coffeeshop eavesdropping. This column consists of one of those times I couldn’t resist giving my opinion on what I feel is a very important question – why do people divorce so much? I hope you enjoy my answer – and I hope you will let me know what you think of my ideas. I welcome all comments and questions!

This is my answer to a question on the Quora website. Quora is a website of questions and answers to some of life’s most difficult … and sometimes silly … questions. I responded to this question because I thought the reasons for the high levels of divorce are very important to our society, our families, and the children who will make up our future. You can find the original posting of this question and answer at [http://www.quora.com/Divorce/Why-cant-most-people-be-satisfied-in-married-life-Why-are-divorce-rates-so-high-around-the-world ]

Question: Why can’t most people be satisfied in married life? Why are divorce rates so high around the world?
My answer:

I’ve developed my answer to this particular question over 16 years of intensive work with divorcing couples, dissatisfied married couples, and re-married couples (“blended families”), as well as my own divorce and second marriage. I honestly believe that some couples should not have married in the first place. I agree, generally, that marriages are entered into too lightly, with too little clear, logical thought.

Marriages like these are NOT true marriages, they are couples playing house on a temporary basis.
Marriage is a lifelong commitment. A sincere, legal, moral, and often religious vow is taken to never leave or forsake each other through any difficulties that may arise. If this vow is not a flippant lie, divorce is impossible. I’ve never heard vows (though I’m sure someone has made up some) that allow for escape possibilities – “till boredom do us part,” “as long as you remain interesting to me,” etc.

Divorce is always damaging. Period. Even when the couple “is cool with it.” To have failed at a solemn vow degrades the personality and the soul. It makes the vow breaker think less of him/herself and makes all future commitments much weaker. When there are children involved, divorce is akin to abuse. Ask any child whose parents have divorced and they will tell you they wish their parents had resolved their differences and  remained married. The statistics of what damages are done to children of divorce are many, and all tell of children whose quality of life and happiness has been severely reduced.

But, the question is why people can’t be satisfied in marriage (someone said correctly that divorce rates have dropped in the US dramatically in the last decade). My understanding, again based on 16 years of working intimately with divorced, divorcing, and remarried families, is that their understanding of commitment is flawed, often by parents who taught them and society which reinforced that they could have whatever they want, they have an innate right to be absolutely happy all the time, and because they have selfish desires for new adventures despite what effect satisfying those desires will have on others.

Unpopular ideas, I know … but I’ve had far too many divorced/remarried people tell me those ideas are correct to doubt them. We want everything perfect and when our marriage relationships or home situations are not, we whine and run away. Society supports this dangerous behavior because the majority of society wants to keep that same option open for themselves.

Should some marriages be ended? Yes, but very few. I have successfully helped many, many couples rehabilitate their relationships who had experienced what society calls “deal breakers” – adultery, drug addiction, abuse, and betrayal of many sorts. These are only deal breakers if one or both sides are determined to give up and run away and abandon their vows.

Christians, in particular, have very few true reasons for divorce, and those are still excuses to lie. Yes, yes, yes, a woman (or a man) who is consistently abused by their spouse should get away from him and protect herself. But there are often alternatives to divorce. When children are involved, they must certainly be protected, but divorce of their two parents is not always the best, and certainly not the only solution. I’ve witnessed far too many families brought back to peace who were convinced divorce is the only solution.

… Now, if you’d like to see a few responses to my answer and my replies to those responses, visit the original Quora link at the beginning of this column. And, if you have any questions or comments for me, please just reply to this email message and I’ll get it and reply as quickly as I can.

STEPcoach Bob Collins

Published in: on July 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm  Comments (1)  

Jumping Off the Cliff

What lead you to get married again? After being burned so badly by your previous divorce(s), why did you – many of us very quickly – run back into another marriage?

Most of you will answer that you fell in love and hoped this time would be different and better. That this adventure into matrimony would not only work, but repair the harm from the last one. But, how could you bring yourself to walk back over that cliff?

I know that in my own case, I didn’t walk, I sprinted toward my second marriage. I remember thinking a good three months before our wedding was scheduled to take place, “Why should we wait? Why not just get married TODAY?! We’re in love, we are ready to start over, let’s go!” I was held back only by the plans that were in place and the deposits that had been paid for the scheduled date. I was so much in love, I couldn’t wait to start being happily married. Again.

As some of you probably know from our working together, the first two years of my new marriage was less blissful than expected. In fact, it was horrible. We jumped into it far too quickly and far too soon after our previous divorces. In retrospect, we should have spent a good two years (bare minimum!) learning about each other and figuring out how to blend our lives together – especially regarding her teenaged daughter’s impact on our marriage!

If I’d paid closer attention in my university classes on psychology, I’d have seen that others had already studied this phenomenon of blindly walking off cliff walls. Back in 1960, two researchers named Gibson and Walk constructed a table to test depth perception in animals and babies. The table, as illustrated below:

was made of clear plexiglass under which was one half a table surface, and one half a drop off to the floor. In the experiment, very young babies – first animal then human – were placed on the “safe” side and encouraged to cross the glass table to the “unsafe” side. Animals almost never crossed, and many babies would not cross. But some babies were so focused on their parent’s facial expressions that they happily crawled all the way to her. They were more interested in Mom’s or Dad’s smiling, encouraging faces that communicated it was OK to cross the divide than what their eyes told them.

Now “the Visual Cliff”, as this experiment has become known, has real application in helping us understand why so many people … people who are generally pretty clear headed … will stumble out of the smoking wreckage of a horrible divorce, right into another relationship as quickly as they can find one.

We, like those trusting babies on the glass table, are so focused on the smiling, happy, beguiling faces of our new love interests (or other body parts besides their faces!), that, although we can see the drop off, we don’t heed our body’s natural warning responses.

“Dude! Stop! Can’t you see you’re leading us off a huge cliff, just like what we just fell from a few months ago? STOP!” To which we reply dreamily, “I can’t stop. Sorry. Her (“eyes”) are just so big and pretty and she keeps smiling at me and making me feel all warm inside,” or “Don’t be silly, Self! Can’t you see how strong he is and how much he loves me? I just know it will be safe” … to blindly crawl out into blank space where common sense tells me I’ll crash to the bloodied rocks below, just like last time!

And off to the races we go!

Relationships, then, are clearly more important to us than safety, sight, experience, or common sense. Statistics tell us that our hearts will lead us where our eyes should force us to not go. Second marriages experience two divorces out of every three attempts, while more than three out of four third marriages fail. Got that? Two out of every three second marriages end in divorce!

The cliff is real! But we just keep on crawling. Why?

Because we NEED love. We need to have someone we can share the joy of life, as well as the fears of facing the world alone. And we are happy to ignore our brains to listen to the hopes of our hearts.

The bad news is that the odds are against you if you’re in a stepfamily.
The good news is there is hope.

Yes, we need love; we need a partner to walk beside us. And that love is possible. Your marriage doesn’t have to turn into a warning sign to others. It is possible to turn back from what may be looking like a disaster in the making. You just need help.

In sixteen years of working with stepfamilies, we’ve had OVER 90 PERCENT success helping you guys beat the odds. I’m still amazed at that number. We’re not magic. What I teach isn’t some arcane secret. I just help couples see the land mines clearly, then understand the best ways through the toughest times.

“The heart wants what it wants,” as Dickinson said. Almost 100 percent of people who divorce get married again. We love that cliff.

If you’re over the cliff, fearing that you’ve made a big mistake, and especially if you have children involved – don’t give up. Don’t freeze up and just wait for the drop to another crash. Get help. From me, from someone else, within yourself, wherever, just don’t give up. Especially if there are children involved. Don’t drag them into that abyss again.

Hold on and get across this time.

STEPcoach Bob Collins

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mediation/Coaching Is…

Some of you still wonder how I can help your family, your marriage.

I’ve explained my program a few times before, but here is a little video excerpt from a movie that pretty much shows what I do for my couples. Whether you’re in a painful relationship or muddling through the difficult mission of parenting together after a divorce, I help with that.

In this video, I would be the coach, and the two young athletes can represent any couple I work with – married, divorced, or just trying to keep life together.

If you need help getting your relationship and family running smoothly … or just running again, email me. I’ll be happy to talk to you about your situation.

I am open for any and all questions after you watch this.

STEPcoach Bob Collins

Published in: on April 16, 2012 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Words That Damage

[NOTE: This is a short excerpt from my guidebook for divorced parents, “Guiding Your Children Through Divorce;” full information is HERE
[Page 20]
Expressing anger felt toward the other spouse,
that is, criticizing, cutting down, attacking, or disrespecting the children’s other parent, either directly to the children or where they can overhear you talking to someone else or to the other parent. Problems caused by one parent attacking the other parent can go deep; and usually leads to the following effects:
1) It Causes Confusion — This is harmful first because it confuses children about which parent to believe (“Daddy says Mom is a liar and mean, but when I’m with her she seems so sweet and kind, so who’s lying, Daddy or Mom?”). Once a child’s innate trust of a parent is gone, it is hard to rebuild.
2) It Causes Loyalty Conflicts — which parent to support. Children have a tendency to see things as black or white, good or bad, his side or her side. Due to this viewpoint, when a child sees his parents separating in a divorce, he immediately perceives a two-sided issue. Which means the child is either on Mom’s side or Dad’s side. 

This mentality can cause a excessive stress for a child who wants the love and approval of both his parents. All to often, these children begin to show signs of feeling pulled apart and torn between two “sides” in a conflict. The child feels they must choose between Mom or Dad, which leads to internal conflicts of being “against” the other parent.
3) It Causes Authority Damage — causes children to disrespect the attacker. As we’ve seen before, a child resents anyone who attacks her parent, even her other parent. Criticizing or badmouthing your ex damages your own standing in your children’s eyes, causing them to lose respect in your authority.
So, what’s the solution: determine to never fight again in front of children — The obvious solution would be to never, ever be guilty of attacking your children’s other parent. Unfortunately, due to emotions and a lack of self-control, many divorced parents find they don’t have the will power to behave in an intelligent, mature manner toward the person their children loves. In some cases, these parents honestly try to control their words and behavior, but are simply too weak to do so.

In most cases, however, parents who belittle and criticize the people their children love are simply unconcerned for their children’s feelings. They plead they are “just too mad” at their child’s other parent to choose to control themselves. They act out their selfish needs to retaliate and ruin their relationships with their own children, and often damage their children in the process. Some feel that ignoring the needs of their children is child abuse. 
[NOTE: This discussion is continued in “Guiding Your Children Through Divorce;” full information is HERE]
Published in: on April 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Making Memories

Have you heard of Spotify? I have recently discovered this gem on the web – all the music in the world (they claim) to listen to for free. I’ve created playlists of my favorite 80s hits (ELO, Huey Lewis, Starship), Rocking Country (Sawyer Brown and Kentucky Headhunters), classic gospel (Keith Green and Amy Grant). It makes for great background music. But just today I remembered my very first love … The Archies! I checked and sure enough – there it was, my first album – Everything’s Archie. Wow.

As I started listening to Melody Hill, Kissin’, and, of course, the staples: Sugar, Sugar, and Jingle Jangle, my mind was rocketed back to days when I was a little boy, listening to The Archies on the stereo (think of an antique CD player) while laying on the couch or dancing in Mom’s living room. I could feel the water cooler (an early air conditioner) blowing, smell Mom’s burgers cooking in the kitchen, and I was there.

All the memories came rushing in – sweet Summer days with Mom and Dad at the lake, building G.I.Joe and Tonka cities in the back yard, my first dog, Tippy, and the sense of belonging and peace. The funny thing is, home wasn’t always very peaceful.

Try as she might, Mom had a tough task making a happy home with Dad’s penchant for drink (sure, and we ARE an Irish family!) and Mom’s absolute disdain for drunkenness. There were many long loud nights when I would lie in my bed, fearing the worst as they fought out their bitterness. I was terrified they would hurt each other or Dad would leave again or that he’d stay and they’d never stop fighting.

Memories are a mixed bag for most of us – some beautiful, idyllic scenes of being a relatively carefree kid, mixed with being a scared little kid who had pretty much no control over anything in my world. But one thing seems to be true for all kids I’ve talked to or read of: they love having family and being part of a home. Doesn’t matter if that home has periods of yelling and anger, it’s still Home.

Yes, many families fight a lot. But most kids – after they’ve grown and can look back clearly – admit they loved their parents no matter how they acted toward each other. The excuses I hear for many of the divorces I mediate are that the parents are convinced their own marital dissatisfaction is making their children miserable, too. Study after study show this to be false. Kids want Home.

Back to memories (The Archies are still playing in the background) – why do I automatically leap to the happy memories of my long-past youth? There were plenty of sad/angry/scary memories, too. But we lean toward the happy memories. Most of us do, anyway.

So my question to you is, what kind of memories are you building for your own children? What about your stepchildren? What memories will a song bring back to their minds someday, complete with sounds, smells, and emotions of these days? What are you planting there?

I teach consistently that stepparents are not responsible for their stepkids – that’s the job for the biological mom and dad. And the bio-parents will build most of the good and bad memories of their own children. But you and I have a hand in our stepkids’ present past, too. We have the opportunity to help these tender hearts grow into sensitive, loving, understanding adults. (Yes, even the surly teens have tender hearts!)

Every time we yell at their parent; every time we sulk and withdraw to “punish” them; every time we make demands out of a sense of responsibility that isn’t ours instead of accepting and guiding them, we are making memories that will shape their whole lives. Because, you see, WE are teaching them about love and forgiveness and patience and kindness in ways their own parents cannot. Mom and Dad “have” to love them … it’s their job. But when we overlook the snotty attitudes, the shunning, the rudeness and love them anyway, we have made an impression on that young heart that will never be forgotten.

Well, my album is ending, so I need to get back to the present. But please think about the impression you are making on your stepchildren, who are yours by the grace of God and the permission of their parent you’ve married. You and I really can be heroes if we take the challenge to plant good memories in our stepkids.

God bless your whole family!

STEPcoach Bob Collins

[Here’s my Archies playlist: The Archies – Everthing’s Archie]

Published in: on February 22, 2012 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Why so many divorces?

A question on Quora recently got my juices flowing. The question was, “Why can’t most people be satisfied in married life? Why are divorce rates so high around the world?”


I’ve developed my answer to this particular question over 16 years of intensive work with divorcing couples, dissatisfied married couples, and re-married couples (“blended families”), as well as my own divorce and second marriage. I honestly believe that some couples should not have married in the first place. I agree, generally, with Jan Mixon that marriages are entered into too lightly, with too little clear, logical thought. Marriages like these are NOT true marriages, they are couples playing house on a temporary basis. 

Marriage is a lifelong commitment. A sincere, legal, moral, and often religious vow is taken to never leave or forsake each other through any difficulties that may arise. If this vow is not a flippant lie, divorce is impossible. I’ve never heard vows (though I’m sure someone has made up some) that allow for escape possibilities – “till boredom do us part,” “as long as you remain interesting to me,” etc.

Divorce is always damaging. Period. Even when the couple “is cool with it.” To have failed at a solemn vow degrades the personality and the soul. It makes the vow breaker think less of him/herself and makes all future commitments much weaker. When there are children involved, divorce is akin to abuse. Ask any child whose parents have divorced and they will tell you they wish their parents had resolved their differences and remained married. The statistics of what damages are done to children of divorce are many, and all tell of children whose quality of life and happiness has been severely reduced.

But, the question is why people can’t be satisfied in marriage (someone said correctly that divorce rates have dropped in the US dramatically in the last decade). My understanding, again based on 16 years of working intimately with divorced, divorcing, and remarried families, is that their understanding of commitment is flawed, often by parents who taught them and society which reinforced that they could have whatever they want, they have an innate right to be absolutely happy all the time, and because they have selfish desires for new adventures despite what effect satisfying those desires will have on others.

Unpopular ideas, I know … but I’ve had far too many divorced/remarried people tell me those ideas are correct to doubt them. We want everything perfect and when our marriage relationships or home situations are not, we whine and run away. Society supports this dangerous behavior because the majority of society wants to keep that same option open for themselves. 

Should some marriages be ended? Yes, but very few. I have successfully helped many, many couples rehabilitate their relationships who had experienced what society calls “deal breakers” – adultery, drug addiction, abuse, and betrayal of many sorts. These are only deal breakers if one or both sides are determined to give up and run away and abandon their vows.

Christians, in particular, have very few true reasons for divorce, and those are still excuses to lie. Yes, yes, yes, a woman (or a man) who is consistently abused by their spouse should get away from him and protect herself. But there are often alternatives to divorce. When children are involved, they must certainly be protected, but divorce of their two parents is not always the best, and certainly not the only solution. I’ve witnessed far too many families brought back to peace who were convinced divorce is the only solution.

Published in: on January 12, 2012 at 9:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Out of Africa — Truth

[This interesting article is respectfully borrowed from www.ghanaweb.com/]

Akumaa Kicks Against Sex Before Marriage

Ace radio sex educationist and presenter, Akumaa Mama Zimbi, born Joyce Dongotey-Padi, has started what can be described as a campaign against those who find delight and believe in the idea of having sex before marriage.

For several years, the veteran actress has been noted for promoting a good sex lifestyle. But this time, she seems to have shifted her attention to the appropriate time to have good sex; and according to her, that is after marriage.

Mama Zimbi has hence been begging young girls and unmarried individuals to stay away from sex prior to marriage. She implored ladies to close their thighs and be watchful of men who were always s ready to have sex, pleading with men to flee the temptation of women until marriage.

Mama Zimbi, who has been hosting ‘Odo Ahumasuo’, an adult education sex programme on Adom FM, has taken her cause to social network, Facebook. She recently posted, “How many guys have toasted, tested and tasted you and promised that they will marry you? Close those beautiful thighs of yours, and save the rest for the best person who will honour you. No marriage no sex…medaase…”

“Let her know that you are a changed guy now and you refuse to always give in to her temptation. Flee and let her know that no marriage no sex,” she said to the guys. Zimbi’s comments have generated a lot of varying opinions on Facebook. While some supported Akumaa’s call against sex before marriage, others kicked against it.

“Mama Zimbi please don’t pollute the minds of our ladies let them enjoy themselves,” one Adjei Augustine commented. “No tasting no buying. If you won’t allow me to taste then how can I know the palm wine is flesh and taste nice?” another guy, Danny White questioned. A lot of couples say they live together before marriage to see if they are compatible as they don’t want to divorce later.

Unconfirmed statistics however show that those who live together before marriage are more likely to get a divorce than those who do not. Mama Zimbi was last in the news for telling Beatwaves that she witnessed live a couple having sexual intercourse.

Akumaa is also the CEO of a widow’s organization called Widows Alliance Network (WANE) which has over the years focused on sustaining the economic development of widows and educating them as well.

Published in: on November 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Divorce issues


[The following “guest column” by me appeared in “The City Wire” this last Sunday. The story refers to an incident where a divorced dad walked into a county courthouse with three guns, tried unsuccessfully to find and kill the family court judge who has handled his divorce, then shot up the courthouse. He only wounded one person, but was killed when he walked outside and continued firing toward the assembled police force.]


When James Ray Palmer burned his home, loaded up his arms, and marched into the Crawford County courthouse last week, it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. Friends and family say he had been leaving clues for awhile that things were about to boil over.And, in fact, it seems the kettle had been bubbling for 12 years, since his divorce. The feelings percolating in his heart weren’t too alien from those many other divorced parents have felt.


Divorce, it has been said, is one of the greatest tragedies we can go through. It is personal in a way few other injuries can be. It strikes to a person’s heart, their self-image, their very soul. The death of a relationship you had counted on being life-long reshapes your concept of life and the world you live in. If you’ve been divorced, even if you were the one who filed for your divorce, you understand the intimacy of the disturbance.


As a family mediator specializing in divorce and re-marriage, I have seen thousands of instances of divorce, some handled well, and many handle poorly. Far too many of the individuals I meet with tell of being just a few steps away from the tragedy that ended Palmer’s pain. They speak of great, burning anger, dreams of revenge, personal agony that never really goes away.


The disturbing fact is that James Palmer acted out what so many divorced parents have fantasized. Most of us just don’t pick up the guns and charge in shooting.


All indications are that Palmer didn’t intend to harm anyone except the judge he blamed for his broken family. The only person shot was the judge’s assistant, and it’s difficult to imagine someone so poor a shot that more than 70 rounds accidentally didn’t hit anyone in the enclosed halls of the courthouse. He was looking for a way out of his misery, and just maybe willing to take out the man he saw as responsible. Notice that in his final act, he didn’t go after his ex-wife or any other family members, just the one outsider closest to the mess.


If that is so, what drove this father and reportedly quiet man over the edge? Why, after more than 10 years fretting over his problems, did he snap now? The answer to that, of course, only James Palmer himself knows for sure, but we know the effects of divorce never really end for a person. As I said before, divorce cuts deeply and re-shapes a person’s attitudes and ideals. The perceived betrayal or abandonment by a person you trusted completely is a life-changing event. 


When a child is involved, it can be even more disturbing.


Through a class I teach for divorcing parents, I have the opportunity to hear and sometimes reach many of these individuals in the middle of their breakup. The mix of feelings — from anger to despair to hopelessness to desperation — leaves them unsure of their position or their future. If they do not properly settle their feelings, the damage can go on the rest of their lives.Some divorcees deal with their loss in socially acceptable ways that are still destructive. 


Drinking, taking drugs, jumping into inappropriate relationships, or throwing out mementoes they will want later are just ways of acting out their pain and confusion. They might use a bottle or someone else’s body instead of a gun, as Palmer did, but the effects are often the same — lives torn up, futures crashed, and, ultimately, their own life lost along the way.


What may someone do to prevent this sort of divorce-related tragedy in their own or a friend’s life? Most important is to deal with the real problem. All the forms of acting out are really ways of avoiding the loss that’s been suffered. Find someone to talk to about how you’re hurting — a close friend, a minister, or a counselor, but someone who can hear your pain, sympathize, understand, and offer encouragement to push on through to more sane times.


Next, get help dealing with the other party in your tragedy, your ex-spouse, if they are at all willing to talk. Mediation always helps, as long as both sides can understand the need to settle the issues. Divorced parents have a relationship that will last the rest of their lives. As long as they have children or grand-children alive, they will have to encounter each other regularly. 


For the sake of their own sanity, as well as their children’s well-being, they must create a new way of being family. Divorce never ends that parental connection, so it is vital they find a way to endure and accept the new relationship. Clearly, Palmer and his son’s mother never successfully re-created their partnership.Using legal avenues didn’t help the Palmers to find peace. They rarely do.

Counseling can help, and Mr. Palmer appears to have needed some intense therapy. But too many people view counseling as a sign of weakness or illness, and the process can be lengthy. 

Mediation is a proven process that goes directly to the point of conflict and guides the two parties to reasonably consider ways to take the pressure off both of them. Children almost always benefit when their parents are willing to sit down and at least try mediating their differences.

Perhaps if the Palmers had been willing to talk through their arguments and let someone guide them to consider methods of working together for their son, the explosion of emotions might have been prevented. No one can say for sure, but there is a great chance.

Mediation may not solve all the problems, but clearing the air and rationally discussing disputes has helped many in the past. It may just be the first step, but it is always better to consider understanding than to just hope things will magically get better on their own.

They rarely do.

STEPcoach, Bob Collins
Published in: on September 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Surviving Summer Visits!

Summer brings mosquito bites, sunburn, and custody swaps for most stepfamilies. Following divorce and remarriage, many divorce/child custody agreements provide for special times while school is out for the kids to visit with their non-custodial parents.
Oh joy. Now we get to figure out how to adapt to something even more disruptive! Just when we were starting to find some sort of routine around the madhouse, we toss it all and play new games.

Now, before you hop a freighter for the islands, we have a few suggestions on how to survive the summertime custody swaps. Working with thousands of stepfamilies around the world, we’ve received some great tips from stepmoms and dads, and here we share them with you …

* If your kids do have to travel to visit Mom or Dad, don’t whine about it. Family ties are important to all children, but especially so for stepkids. After spending all year in a new home with new family members to adjust to, your kids probably will feel relieved to be back around familiar faces. Let them.

* One mother said that her feelings about her kids being gone for the summer could be summed up in one word: Hallelujah! At first she felt guilty about enjoying their absence, but, she says, she realized that they were having fun, so she might as well, too. Now, while she looks forward to their phone calls and their return, she plans special times just for her husband and herself.

* If kids come to visit you for the summer, don’t neglect them. Whether they are your own children, for whom your spouse has custody, or your stepkids, make them part of everything that goes on. They are not enemy spies from the ex. They are children hoping to have some enjoyment during a special time of the year, in a place that is not their home.

* Make a place for visiting stepkids to feel at home. Some families hardly provide a drawer for them, since they visit rarely. That’s shameful! They’re not pets dropped off on you for a kennel stay. They are children who are basically at the mercy of your courtesies.

* If you live in a small house and have little extra money, be creative. Save up and buy (or even borrow) some furniture – a bed, a chest of drawers – it doesn’t have to be a lot. The point is to make an effort just for them out of love.

* Wear thicker skin over the summer. If the pressures build, be careful that you don’t damage relationships you have to maintain throughout the rest of the year. Someone has to be the adult, it might as well be you. Even if no one else appreciates your strength, you can feel proud of yourself when the dust settles!

This topic is covered in more detail on our website in an expanded article: Summertime Blues! , and in our booklets, “12 Steps to Improving Your Stepfamily’s Communication,” “You’re Not My Dad!,” and  “You’re Not My Mom!

God bless y’all,

STEPcoach Bob Collins

Published in: on June 6, 2011 at 11:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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