Late Life Remarriage=I Am My Own In- Law?

Could you be ex-spouses and then morph into stepsiblings? That is exactly what happened Adrienne Brodeur, as she wryly wrote in her recent New York Times article  “ Formerly Spouses, Now Step-Siblings”Brodeur details the craziness of her widowed mother marrying her own husband’s recently widowed father. The reception of the late life parents (now husband and wife /formerly parents in law) featured the aging bride and groom’s daughter and son (a married couple) singing their adapted version of  “ I’m Mt Own Grandpa” titled  “ I am My Own In Law’”. A few years later the married daughter and son – got divorced themselves

Confused? Get ready for the future. In twenty-first century midlife, not only do we frequently get divorced and remarried, but our aging parents do as well. Sometimes shockingly, we may acquire unexpected stepsiblings through a parent’s unforeseen late-life marriage. The effects of these late-life unions can be an unsettling rash of stepsiblings, introduced in your middle age.

You do not have to share your bedroom with them, as stepsiblings must in childhood, but you may be forced to interact through the exploding family web. This can mean negotiating how Mom or Dad celebrates his or her own wedding, as recounted in Brodeur’s , both humorous and sad article.  New late life stepsiblings can mean rituals like Thanksgiving   or family reunions spent with a remote, remade family. If you already have stepsiblings, or half siblings from childhood divorce, this exploding crop of non-blood siblings may make an indigestible menu of lumpy gravy smothered mashed potatoes or any ritual holiday on steroids.

Late-life remarriage can bring challenges to your existing stepbrother or sister relationship through these almost menopausal stepparents and stepsiblings. You and your on hand siblings may be feel like punching each other, like the midlife Super Mario Brothers, if either of you disagrees about the new second marriages. Some people embrace the extended families that enfold them in middle age. Other siblings reject them, accepting only their blood relatives. Differing points of view can explode into a new battle.

Money can cause a new rift. Remarriage and new stepsiblings may mean dividing a parent’s estate among more heirs, resulting in a diminished inheritance. Remarried parents can leave their whole estate to a new spouse or autumnal stepsiblings. One of you may accept Mom or Dad’s choice while another may boil over, prompting a new quarrel. Lawsuits can break out as the family drama escalates to the courtroom. Maintaining a united front as you face these family changes takes constant attention to shore up your reborn sibling attachment.

You may also consider looking into forgiveness tools like Mom Loves You Best Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships for a guide. . In Dysfunctional aging families this may be a time to start therapy with a professional who works with midlife and aging issues and understands forgiveness. Try investigating ways to make a solid extended family relationship instead of washing down the turkey or 4th of July barbeque with Zanax and cocktails.

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About momlovesyoubest

Cathy Cress holds an MSW in Aging from U.C. Berkeley. Her new book Mom Loves You Best, Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships , New Horizon Press, was published October 2010. Cress’s book , Handbook of Geriatric Care Management, Jones and Bartlett, is the bible of geriatric care management and is out out in a third edition in February 2011 .Her book Care Managers, Working With the Aging Family, Jones and Bartlett,2008 is one of the few major books on the aging family. Ms. Cress is the founder of GCM Consult ,working with small and national who want to add or launch GCM businesses. She is on the faculty at the University of Florida in their on line master’s in geriatric care management -GCM . She has taught geriatric care management at San Francisco State University , UC Berkeley and teaches at Cabrillo College and San Mateo College. She was founder and director of Cresscare, a GCM business, for 25 years.
This entry was posted in Aging parent, Baby Boomer, extended family, half siblings, Holiday with siblings, sibling rivalry, Step Siblings and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Late Life Remarriage=I Am My Own In- Law?

  1. Great post! I’ve been so caught up in the imbroglios of my new “step” relationships resulting from re-marriage with young kiddos that I’ve never imagined what it must be like with all parties involved a decade or two older. I would hazard a guess that the “wicked stepchild” persona shares equal limelight with the “wicked stepchildren” in that scenario. Definitely not what I’ve become accustomed to…maybe I should’ve waited twenty years to get married!

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