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The Remarried Life

Dec 10, 2019

Brian Mayer over the next 3 weeks will be talking about the stages of stepfamily development.  These stages were developed by Patricia Papernow, Ed.D.  We will walk through the early stages in the first episode, the middle stages in the second episode, and the later stages in the third episode of this series.  The broad view of this series is to understand that there are steps that the life of the stepfamily will take and that patience is needed to see them all unfold.   We hope you enjoy today’s message.  For more information and additional resources please visit our website at

Today's Goodies


  • If you have listened to this podcast for any amount of time you know that we talk a lot about patience in the journey that your stepfamily is taking.  Sometimes we get so caught in the agony and pain of the moment that it is hard to see through to what is next or what is possible. 
  • In this 3 part series we will be taking a look at this journey and what it commonly looks like for most families.  This will hopefully give you a good sense of what to expect as your stepfamily matures. 
  • In these episodes we will be using Patricia Papernow’s 3 stages of stepfamily development as the backdrop for our discussion today.  She breaks it down into Early, Middle, and Later Stages. 
  • In today’s episode we will be talking about the Early Stage.  In this stage she further divides this into the chapters if you will:  Fantasy, Immersion, and Awareness. 
  • As you know, in the early stages there is not much trust and a definite feeling around for each person’s place in this new family.  Pain and hurt is probably common.  Present alliances are strong and new ones seem like a pipe dream. 
    • In chapter 1 of the Early Stage, Papernow describes a Fantasy chapter.  In this period, the adult main focus is to heal the past pain and will generally be viewing this new situation as a value add to their lives.  Children in this stage often see things completely the opposite.  They will often wish their parents were back together and simply do not like or understand this new situation. 
    • The Immersion chapter happens when conflict begins to happen between biological families.  All sorts of emotions like anger, jealousy, and bitterness start to set in during this time.  Children begin to feel caught in the middle.
    • The Awareness chapter begins as the fantasy wears off and reality sets in.  Life starts to get hard and conflict begins to happen especially between new spouses.  If the family can begin to embrace a new normal then often the fantasy and immersion stages can be put behind in order to move toward the middle stages. 
  • In the next episode 121 we will discuss the Middle Stage of Stepfamily development which involve Mobilization and Action chapters. 
  • In the final episode 122 of the series we will discuss the Later Stage of Stepfamily development which involve the Contact Stage and the Resolution Stage
  • Just remember to be patient.  The difficulties you may be facing you family are temporary.  You will move along and some challenges will disappear and others will appear. 
  • According to Papernow, stepfamilies who move through all 3 stages do so in about 4 years.  The average time for most stepfamilies is 7 years and some can take as long as 12 years.  Unfortunately some stepfamilies end in divorce, others can get stuck in the early stages, and a small number complete the whole cycle. 
  • It appears that those who complete the cycle, tend to negotiate the early stages quicker. 


Thanks For Listening!

  • With so many things that take time in our lives, I am more grateful than you know that you took time to listen to this podcast episode. 
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As always remember that marriage is not something you have, it is something you do.  Talk to you next week unless you are binge listening in the future in which case I will talk to you in about a minute!  Take care.