A Review of Stepcoupling: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today’s Blended Family

By Donna Cook

If you read only one book about stepfamilies, this is the one to read. Stepcoupling: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today’s Blended Family is a thorough and compassionate examination of the unique challenges and joys of stepfamilies. Authors Susan Wisdom and Jennifer Green, both part of successful stepcouples for the past 25 years, systematically discuss just about every issue a stepfamily will face, from stepfamily bonds (and the initial lack thereof) to  handling finances to dealing with the ex. In each instance, the authors treat the issue directly and without flinching. It’s enough to make a person nervous about the reality of entering into another marriage. However there is steady reassurance that the challenges of stepfamily life can be met as the authors present solutions which are specific, direct, and comforting. By the time the authors finish addressing each topic, you’re left with a feeling of empowerment.

Drawing on years of both personal and professional experience (Wisdom is a therapist specializing in couples and stepcouples considering divorce), the authors give solid advice spoken from the point of view of someone who knows. They also share quotes and stories from successful (and not-so-successful) stepcouples describing their experiences in stepfamily life. I found these real life examples extremely helpful. Along the way, the authors encourage flexibility and doing what’s right for your situation, while definitively declaring which attitudes you must avoid (such as an antagonistic attitude toward stepchildren) and which you must embrace (patience, tolerance, communication).

While some issues exist in all families, including nuclear families, the authors shine a light on how stepfamilies may experience issues in unique ways. For instance, all couples deal with finances (a potential hot topic in any relationship) but what happens when the differing financial resources of each adult result in different privileges for children in the stepfamily? Likewise, as Wisdom and Green discuss techniques designed to help all couples strengthen their relationship, they also provide tips for dealing with situations unique to stepcouples, such as how to stay connected during weekend visitations when parents may be tempted to neglect their spouse in favor of their children.

To me, the strength of this book is the focus on the couple relationship as the foundation for success for the entire family. Wisdom and Green stress the critical importance of daily time to connect as a couple, in addition to regular dates and getaways. Even remembering small loving gestures in the midst of a sometimes chaotic life can make all the difference for couples. As the authors discuss the variety of issues stepfamilies face, again and again you are reminded that, in addition to other strategies, the ultimate key to solving family issues is to make sure the marriage relationship is strong and takes priority. As couples look to one another for strength and comfort, the entire family benefits. This book is a great, comprehensive tool for couples wanting to help their relationship and their family thrive.

To submit questions for my upcoming interview with author Susan Wisdom, email editorial@summitseriesforfamilies.com and put “Stepcoupling” in the subject field.

 

Donna Cook is a freelance writer and editor who particularly enjoys writing about family issues. She moderates a large online forum for mid-life singles, many of whom are divorcees, and is known for her calm temperament, encouragement, optimism, and reasonable approach to life’s challenges. When she’s not busy writing and raising her three active boys, she enjoys ballroom dancing, hiking, quilting, and traveling.

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