- Blended families: The biggest challenge here is for stepparents who may not love their partner's kids as much as their own kids. It takes time for relationships to develop. They have to be earned. The kids on both sides of the family are going to test their stepparents as well as each other. Trust is a big issue in blended families, and it's important to remember that the biological parent always has to be the one to make the final decisions about his or her children; the feelings and wisdom of the biological parent must always be respected.
- Couple differences: The pitfall here is when couples confuse loyalty with agreement. Our favorite example is a couple we know that has always delighted in celebrating the differences between each other. For example, he teases her that if she'd had some lesbian relationships when she was in college, she might be more "well rounded," while she tells him he's too gender-sensitive and calls him a metrosexual just to get a rise out of him. One of this couple's favorite films is Four Weddings and a Funeral, especially a scene in which two folk singers, at one of the weddings, sing the lyrics, "I'm sad when you're sad and I'm glad when you're glad." When they hear these silly lyrics, they remind themselves of how much fun they have celebrating each other's differences. That's a good concept to keep in mind: enjoy what makes each other unique, and don't begrudge one another for it.
The Brief Solution-Focused Therapy that we offer couples focuses on each of the above areas of potential conflict.
Andre Moore is the Director of Marriage Couples Counseling and Life Coaching in New York City.