This is a challenging question for me to answer from personal experience because I have to admit I didn’t personally think about this decision in this way.
It is absolutely one of the top questions I get as a life coach working with adults in blended families.
Since I’ve started coaching I’ve put a lot of thought into this and I’ve decided to weigh in.
I have one big caveat about my answer.
If you didn’t do this and you’re already blended please do not use this as a reason to berate yourself or see your marriage or family in a negative light. That’s no fun. If you want to see my 10 Tips for a Successful Blended Family find those here.
There is no perfect time to blend.
When did you decide to move in together?
Would you like to know how my husband and I decided to move in together?
It was not a long complicated process.
Our leases were up.
Actually, just his lease was up. I was actually on a month-to-month lease because the building I lived in was going to eventually be knocked down for a big development.
One day he said, my lease is up and I was thinking I could either rent again or we could move in together. Bing bang boom we moved in together.
Honestly, I was 25 or 26 years old. I don’t precisely remember. We had been together over a year.
I still moved every year or two. I had roommates before and I can truly say that I didn’t really understand the significance of this change when I made this decision.
It worked out for us. I’m still not suggesting that this should be your strategy.
It is just what I did. It wasn’t super duper easy at times but we worked through it. You can find my 10 Tips for a successful blended family based on my experience here.
Before you blend your family
I did go ahead and give this some thought for my opinion on when is the best time to blend. This is a question that comes up a lot. I recently even got asked if I wanted to do a workshop to help people prepare for blending which is an amazing idea.
When I talk about blending what I mean is moving in together when at least one of the people has children from a prior relationship. Living together. Sharing a home. Living full or part time with step kids.
Here’s my answer about what I think we should all think about before we move in together and blend.
I think that if you are relatively confident that you are fully committed to the relationship with your partner and family that it is when you could consider blending.
That is going to mean different things to different people.
For me it means that I am not going to throw in the towel when things get tough.
Committed to the partner.
This part is very well covered in the marriage vows and contract. For better or worse until death do us part.
Most of us cannot envision what the worse will be and so it honestly is a good idea to try and think it through. Premarital counseling is probably not a bad idea.
Committed to the family.
This includes the kids. This includes the exes and their families too. Once children are created in a family those bonds are not easily broken. Even if the parents divorce the adults … all of them… will often be connected for the life of those children.
I think this is a really good idea to think about that a lot before you blend.
If you have any dreams that you will have a life without the ex or without the kids … that’s often not going to be realistic and it might mean that you should not move in together or blend.
I say that with the admission that I had no idea what it meant when I did this. If you had asked me when I married my husband if I was committed to his family I might have said yes. I dunno honestly. I had no way to have any concept of what 20 years of being with his children (my stepchildren) would mean.
It’s okay if you don’t know if you’re committed to the family. I do think that this is something that is hard to understand until you’re in it. It’s still probably a good idea to think about it before you commit.
The only other thing I’ll throw in here is that before you blend you may want to really get curious and examine the causes for any earlier divorces. Most of us repeat behavior from relationship to relationship. This is kind of like checking the accident report on a used car. Before you commit it’s probably a good idea to ask hey what happened before. If you have been divorced this could even involve you looking at your last relationship.
Look closely at the behavior of the ex and their family. When you blend you will become a part of this fabric of humanity. You may be tied to these people for your future. One thing I see a lot as a coach of people in blended families are people who underestimate how much this will impact their lives.
I hope that this is helpful and if you are looking for support and coaching for you in your blended family here’s how you can get more information about that.