By Chandrama Anderson
The Changing American FamilyUploaded: Dec 6, 2013
How is your family configured? Are you still married to your first spouse? Do you have children from multiple marriages? Are you a blended family? Are you a single mom by choice? Are you a same gender family? Are you single by choice? Are you a couple without kids? Did you have trouble with fertility? Do you have the number of kids you always wanted? Is one of you originally from the U.S. and one from another country? Did you move here from another part of the country?
This excellent NY Times article discusses the many variations of the American family today. The change is continuing, and seems to be speeding up.
There is no right or wrong way to be a family; there is only how we celebrate, manage, or cope with the family we have.
One surprise to the researchers: divorce rates are down for first marriages.
Since clear communication and emotional engagement are necessary for any healthy marriage, is there anything extra needed for the variety of family configurations of 2013?
Perhaps what are needed are curiosity, patience, flexibility, plus desire and willingness to grow and change. When I see clients of another culture, or family configuration for that matter, I ask a lot of questions. I want to know what meaning is held by each person on a given topic. Often people aren't actually on different "sides" of an issue once they understand each person's underlying values and those values are often shared, even if they are enacted differently.
Finding a starting point where we are joined, and then following the dual paths diverging can lead to unimagined richness for couples. It may be a slower path in the beginning as you make the time to talk things through. Over your lifetime together it may well be the bridge of your relationship.