Second marriages should come with a user’s guide.
There are all sorts of land mines.
Holidays, kids, traditions, even decorating is up for debate.
When you marry young, you both ease into these things, learning together.
Those first holidays as a family, the little traditions that are unique to you and your kids,
the inside jokes and the sacred cows- all assumed to be common knowledge, until you re-marry.
The new spouse finds out just how sacred these totems are, usually by error, not trial.
Take for instance birthdays. In my large family, the siblings stopped celebrating birthdays with the extended family when we each began having our own kids. We send a card, or a Facebook greeting. Sometimes there is an actual phone call, but it’s no big deal- especially now that we’ve hit middle age.
I re-married three years ago, and quickly found out that his family treated birthdays like each person was English royalty. Celebration with the whole extended family is a requirement. A full-out family dinner, followed immediately by a traditional birthday cake. While digesting dinner and dessert one must open their presents and pass around each card for everyone to read, while simultaneously oohing and ahhhing over the present.
After the presents, we stay around the table while family folklore is repeated for the benefit of any new guests.
The routine never changes, only the venue from house to house.
When I joined the family, my husband “surprised” me by inviting his family over for my birthday. Let’s just say, I don’t celebrate my birthday with a crowd.
Lesson learned- I endure the monthly family birthday tradition, and he takes me out to dinner alone on my birthday.
We’ve got that tradition figured out.