Stepfamily Reality #12 - No Instant Family

        Legally and socially, re/marriage does create a new family. However, human nature and typical stepfamily complexity and differences from biofamilies can mean that it will probably take four or more years after exchanging vows to begin to feel closeness, bonding, and loyalty similar to a typical intact biofamily. It can also mean that for several reasons, a stepfamily may never bond and grow an identity, loyalty, and inclusions like a high-nurturance biofamily. This doesn't mean it can't fill members' needs - it means the family roles and relationships feel very different. 

        This is because typical new-stepfamily adults and kids lack years of shared experiences and traditions, genetic bonds, and common ancestors. The greater the dissimilarity of customs and values in the three (or more) merging families and the lower the co-parents' skill at effective communication, the longer stepfamily stabilizing can take, and the more "alien" the stepfamily will feel compared to the biofamilies they grew up in. Co-parents who (a) patiently reduce any psychological wounds and (b) accept their "step" identity and (c) what it means are most likely to realize that their roles and relation-ships will probably never feel like an intact, high-nurturance ("traditional") biofamily. 

       Wounded co-parents may re/marry hoping to create the family bonding, enjoyment, and securities they never had as kids. That fantasy usually never manifests - specially if their partner and/or ex mate/s are also significantly wounded. Such co-parents need to grieve (accept) their lost dreams, enjoy the real benefits of their stepfamily, and help their kids do the same, as they patiently merge their biofamilies a day at a time.