It’s not easy to bring two families together and merge them into one. But there are few simple communication techniques that can set you on a positive path:
1. Set the expectation that your “new” family is going to be ALL about respecting everyone — all traditions and perspectives are going to be heard, and you will try to make sure everyone’s desires are honored in some way. You’re only human, but you’re sure going to try!
2. Create a space where people feel heard. Ask people what’s most important to them. How do they “do things” in their family of origin that they want to stick with? Don’t guess, or assume.
3. Acknowledge where everyone is coming from — if someone thinks your tradition is “stupid” because it’s so different from theirs, that’s a legitimate opinion. Try to avoid convincing people to believe something different, or to see things your way. They’re entitle to their opinion — though you can request that they “humor you,” anyway, because you’re trying to make sure everyone gets their needs met (see #1).
4. Have compassion — change is HARD, hard, hard, and there’s TONS of emotional baggage everyone brings to the table. EXPECT that.