A "blended family" is any new family, typically formed from remarriage, which incorporates existing children. Sometimes it's called a "yours and mine" and later becomes a "yours, mine and ours" family. They can be the result of death, divorce, or a dissolved unmarried parenting relationship.
Blended families are a growing phenomenon in our country, as the divorce rate for first marriages has hovered around 50% for the past decade or so. More people are calling it quits on the first go-round, hoping that the second time will work better. Unfortunately, the reality is that about 65% of second marriages end in divorce, and the numbers go up for third and beyond. In general, the rate of divorce in remarriage is higher if children from a previous marriage are involved.
If it sounds bleak, that's because it sort of is bleak. Any marriage is tough, but when you add the stresses of dealing with exes and kids that might not like their new step-parent, coupled with many couples' desire to pretend they're just like all the other families at the church picnic, it's very tough indeed.
Which is why blended families have to be even tougher.
I want people who read this blog to know that blended families CAN work. They are worth the effort, and if you put in the effort your kids will be okay and you will be happier. You won't get a "honeymoon period." You will have to make peace with your spouse talking to their ex pretty often, and you might have to suck it up and talk to them yourself. You may have to keep your mouth shut when you want to scream, and you may have to turn the cheek more times than you can count. It's ok. It's worth it.
If you are considering becoming blended, or if you are blended and struggling, may I refer you to Ron Deal? His "Smart Stepfamily" series is wonderful and it has helped us immensely. I can't recommend it enough for anyone who is trying to make a step-family work or wants to.
Oh, and I call us "super blended" because we went and murked it all up by throwing adoption on top of it. :)