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The Real Cost of Divorce For Stepfamilies.
What Divorce Does To You and Your Children.

NOTE: This first appeared as a guest post in Journey Beyond Divorce.

The real cost of divorce for stepfamilies what divorce can do to you and your children

Divorce rates for first-time married couples have been declining since the 80s to about 42%. Yet couples who divorce for a second and third time have seen their numbers remain high, as much as 60% and 73%, respectively. Calculating divorce has been more challenging now than 50 years ago because more and more couples, especially those 50 years and older, are opting to live together.

The average length of a marriage today is eight years. Second marriages end after 5 to 7 years. Divorce is expensive. An average divorce with no battling over custody and/or possessions can cost anywhere between $15,000 to $30,000 (depending on the state you live in and whether you hire a mediator or a lawyer.) If you decide to battle it out in court (thinking the judge will be on your side), the costs can be highly prohibitive, going to at least $50,000 to $100,000. Divorce often ruins families financially.

Another cost of divorce we don't talk about much is the physical, emotional, and mental toll it can take on an individual.

CNN shared findings from an article by Mary Elizabeth Hughes of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Linda J. Waite, a sociologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, on the health and wellbeing of those who divorce and remarry.

The article shared their finds about health risks and quality of life, finding that both divorced and widowed who didn't remarry had worse health issues than those currently married. Chronic illnesses, stress, and depression were some of the health issues divorced people faced.

These lingering health issues are because we think that our problems will be solved once we get a divorce and start over again. If you didn't resolve your issues with your ex-partner before getting remarried, chances are, you will be having more difficulties with your second marriage because of past unresolved issues. And this is especially true when children are involved. Another study showed that stepmoms had a higher incidence of depressions than moms. Divorce means the end of a relationship as husband and wife but doesn't mean the end of parenthood. There are only ex-spouses, NO ex-parents.

Many stepparents complain about the behavior their stepkids exhibit and wonder what they could do differently. One area to take a close look at is how the parents handled the divorce.

Children where the family never discussed the reason for the divorce have a more challenging time adjusting to having a new family. Judith S. Wallerstein, author of Second Chance,  found that kids who didn't do so well had more difficulty because of how their parents fought, bickering, and blaming back and forth. They feel caught in the middle, and they don't feel loved and secure. These children blamed themselves for their parents' divorce and often started getting in trouble earlier. Many of these children left home early, got pregnant, and/or got married to leave home.

Children where the family never discussed the reason for the divorce have a harder time adjusting to having a new family.

Many children accepted their parents' divorce and moved to have families of their own only when the adults handled the divorce in a civil and respectful manner. If you have children, discussing the divorce with them is essential. When both parents tell their children about the divorce, they get the message that they are still cherished and taken care of by both parents. This also helps when you find yourself another partner in the future. The children won't feel the need to choose between parents. It also makes it easier on the new stepparent in that there are fewer feelings of insecurity.

The success of the stepfamily may also be linked with how well you handled your divorce. Success is better if you can have healthy conversations about the children and not put them in the middle of your battles. Marriage is already a transition that is not always easy:

  • Learning to live with another person's habits.
  • Incorporating different routines to make them work.
  • Having time for yourself and your partner all require a lot of planning and preparations.

But if you include arguments and conflicts with an ex-spouse over things that could have been resolved peacefully, then you are stacking the odds against you even more.

Another reason for dealing with your divorce is to finally put to rest the issues that have made your relationship go in different directions and be at peace with yourself. Only then can you truly be happy and secure in your new relationship. Even if you've been divorced for years and remarried, taking the time to put aside those resentments from the past gives your new relationship the kind of presence that it deserves. Living with ghosts gets crowded and takes up precious time and energy that most of us don't have.

Another critical thing to remember is that you are forever the parent of these children, even when they are grown and have kids of their own. Parenting is a life-long commitment. The price of not dealing with your divorce affects you and your children, their future spouses, and their children. Imagine having a son/daughter-in-law caught in the middle of something they have absolutely nothing to do with. Must they also choose their loyalties? What about the grandchildren? Would you risk not being a part of their lives because you can't stand your ex-spouse? What message is it sending to our future generations when we, as adults, can't forgive and move on?

As I see my son and two stepdaughters married and children of their own, my wish for them is to have a strong, healthy, and loving marriage. As with all couples and relationships, they'll have their own sets of challenges to deal with. Fortunately, they have resources available to them that we didn't have when our relationships failed.

Why join the Stepmom Resource Library?

  • Expert Guidance: Access to curated resources and tools designed by a certified stepmom coach with years of experience in helping stepmothers navigate their unique challenges.
  • Comprehensive Topics: Dive into a wide range of topics essential for stepmoms, including managing stress, setting boundaries, improving communication, dealing with conflict, fostering a positive relationship with stepchildren, and more.
  • Practical Strategies: Gain practical tips and strategies that you can implement immediately in your stepfamily dynamics, helping you build a more cohesive and harmonious family environment.
  • Supportive Community: Connect with like-minded stepmothers facing similar challenges, providing a supportive space to share experiences, seek advice, and offer encouragement.
  • Exclusive Content: Enjoy access to exclusive content not available elsewhere, including worksheets, checklists, templates, and insightful articles tailored specifically for stepmoms.
  • Flexible Learning: Learn at your own pace and convenience, with 24/7 access to the library from any device, allowing you to fit learning into your busy schedule.
  • Empowerment and Growth: Empower yourself with the knowledge and tools needed to thrive in your stepmom role, fostering personal growth and enhancing your overall well-being.
  • Free Membership: Joining the Stepmom Resource Library is completely free, making it accessible to all stepmothers seeking support and guidance on their stepfamily journey.

By joining the Stepmom Resource Library, you're not just gaining access to a wealth of valuable resources; you're also becoming part of a supportive community dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of stepfamily life with confidence and grace. Don't miss out on this opportunity to empower yourself and transform your stepfamily experience!

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About the Author

CLAUDETTE CHENEVERT, aka The Stepmom Coach, works with women as they struggle to create a cohesive family life. As a speaker, author and stepfamily professional, Claudette mentors and guides stepmothers through the process of establishing a harmonious and thriving home life for their families. Her newest title, “The Stepmom’s Book of Boundaries,” is now available on Amazon.com and elsewhere. Learn about her coaching practice and self-study program for stepmoms at StepmomCoach.com.

Claudette Chenevert

The original content you just enjoyed is copyright protected by The Stepmom Coach—aka Claudette Chenevert—who proudly offers information, tips, products and other resources for building better relationships “one STEP at a time” via 1:1 coaching, self-guided coursework and more. Suitability is to be determined by individual users based on their own concerns and circumstances, as The Stepmom Coach does not endorse and is not liable for opinions expressed by third parties (i.e., advertisers, affiliates, audience members, clients).

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