LOVE DOCTOR: Blending families with the right mix

Q I'M NEWLY married and in love with my husband. We both have children so we were each cautious about introducing them until we knew we were serious. Now that we are married, none of the kids are comfortable with my husband and I showing affection so we have tried to keep a distance when they are around. How can we assure our kids that loving our new spouse and their kids doesn't mean we love our own kids any less?

A YOU have done an excellent job of identifying the issues and so far being aware of the children's needs and concerns.

My feeling is that you need to maintain this vigilance to ensure the health and bonding process of your family.

The balance of affection that you show is crucial.

You and your husband should first present a united front of making the kids feel that they are a priority and not competing for your attention. You and your husband should limit your touchy-feely demonstrations of affection, but not eliminate them.

You can take this opportunity to role model a healthy, happy relationship.

As long as you overemphasize at first, the love relationship you have with your children, and make your husband's children feel absolutely welcome and within the family each time they are inside the house, you build security and stability which in turn will help them feel safe and loved and more accepting of the new blended family and your love relationship with your spouse.

Family outings are good for bonding, but consider date nights with your kids and step-kids too, so that they don't feel they re competing for one on one time with you and feel they only watch you and your partner go out on romantic dates. Children flourish when they have your undivided attention.

Balance isn't easy but with a concerted effort to make them feel secure and loved, your own married life will become easier, not harder.

Invest more up front and the love and affection will be easier and more open through all the years to come.

Your honeymoon period is special, of course, but you have a family to consider.

If keeping your hands away from each other a little less in the short term means long term family love and success, then it's a small price to pay.

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