Navigating midlife remarriageWritten by Susan Graham Mathis
What's inside this article
Ah . . . this will be a breeze.
Since our kids are grown and out of the house, Dale and I thought many of the issues of blending families wouldn’t affect our second marriage. We also assumed that as adults, our kids wouldn’t be affected by our decision to tie the knot. Yeah, right!
Remarrying was a huge step, especially after past failures and hurts. But we knew God had blessed us with a wonderful gift – each other. Moreover, He was giving us a chance to model God’s beautiful redemptive plan and exemplify what marriage is supposed to be.
Unexpected bumps in the road
The month following our engagement, we discovered Dale had prostate cancer. We married in July, and Dale had surgery in November.Meanwhile, my adult son unexpectedly moved into our newlywed home that September and stayed until the following May!
That was the end of our "breeze."
We expected to face midlife challenges together – establishing new relationships with our adult children, health concerns, caring foraging loved ones and retirement. These were a few transitions that would keep us learning and growing during this stage of life.
For us, health took centre stage. Dale’s prostate cancer, followed by rotator cuff surgery and then my own bout of skin cancer, created moments when we had to draw together not only to solve the medical challenges but also to uphold each other in prayer and love.
What we didn’t expect were the greater complexities that arose because we married again with adult children. If you or someone you love is planning to remarry, perhaps some of our experiences will help in the preparation.
Each of us became a step-parent to adults, and that’s not as simple as it sounds. Young adults "don’t need parents," at least in their thinking – especially since they’ve often learned to do without a parent through death or divorce. We found it best not to try to parent our adult stepchildren.
The truth is, stepchildren may never accept you in that role. Don’t rush or push. Instead, simply try to be their friend. It may take time, patience and lots of understanding.
Adult children like to make their own decisions, yet often their choices affect us, especially financially. My adult son’s eight-month stay challenged us in unexpected ways. So did our other kids’ car accidents, financial problems and marital difficulties. As we work together to come up with recommendations for their problems, we’re cautious of getting too involved with each other’s children. At the same time, we communicate constantly with each other about all the challenges and frustrations they are experiencing.
Like me, you may become an instant grandparent. I told Aly, my then six-year-old step-granddaughter, that she was one of the best gifts I got on our wedding day. Yet in that role, I had to learn how to be a grandma without the delight of knowing her from birth. I also had to find my place alongside an already established grandmother, which could be confusing for Aly. Take your time and move only at the speed and depth of what the child can handle or understand.
- Our adult children suddenly had step-siblings. Yours may, too. Our kids are spread all over the map: Boston; Washington, D.C.; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Durango, Colorado; and Los Angeles. They didn’t all meet each other before we married, and most haven’t seen each other since our wedding. Don’t expect your children to become close just because they are now related by marriage.
Be prepared, and be blessed
At midlife, we came into the marriage with a more complex financial history. Like us, you’ll need to plan carefully as you discuss blending bank accounts, possessions, wills, assets, debts, etc. Realize that you are making a covenant commitment to your spouse and make decisions accordingly.
Midlife remarriage has been a wonderful blessing – and it can be for you, too. Just be prepared. God’s redemptive plan is one that, if you recognize and adjust to the challenges that come with it, can bring joy and happiness to the later years of life.
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