Almost half of the first marriages end the divorce. However, that fact does not deter most people from trying a second – or third – time. Remarrying happens to three out of ten people within a year; others marry in four or fewer years.
People want the companionship, security, and love that marriage provides. But what can they do differently the second time to create long-term success?
Difficulties With Second Marriages
There are two major answers. People can learn from past mistakes and make every effort not to repeat them. They spend the time in between marriages figuring out what they really want and what they need to do and not do to achieve their goals. Approaching a second marriage like that, i.e., realistically rather than impetuously, gives it a huge chance of success.
Not all divorcees deal with a second marriage in such a manner or so. They may still be consumed with left-over negative feelings from the first marriage. They approach a second relationship with anxiety instead of hope. Fear instead of anticipation. Sometimes, age can be a factor. Older people looking for a second partner will find the potential marriage pool has dried up, and they end up settling on someone who is as wrong for them as their first partner was.
Sadly, the latter behavior seems to be the more prevalent. That is why the divorce rate for second marriages can jump to 65 percent. These second marriages also collapse more quickly, since, by this time, people know the warning signs.
Why Second Marriages Can Be More Difficult
All marriages need work and commitment. Second marriages can face additional emotional difficulties. People may be more fearful of making a complete emotional commitment again, knowing the pain that can result. They may also still feel anger, distrust, and resentment, negative remnants from the first marriage which are being dragged into the second relationship. This happens especially if they were the ones initially rejected. The trauma may still linger, leaving him or her unprepared to enter into another trusting, committed relationship. Unfortunately, some people cling to anger as if it were a lifesaver.
People who enter a second marriage with resentment will more likely be quick to criticize and express anger. It’s as if they expect to be hurt and feel the need to cast the first stone. This does not bode well for any marriage.
Additional Problems Faced In Second Marriages
As if the personal baggage brought into the relationship weren’t enough, people who have remarried also face the reactions of their friends and families. In some instances, friends and families are very supportive of the new relationship, which will help the couple adjust much quicker.
That, however, is not always the case. Both friends and family may blatantly favor the first spouse. They may blame the new spouse for the divorce, or they question whether he or she is really an appropriate replacement. The second spouse will not only be judged by his or her partner, but by a large social network. If the judgment is harsh, the divorced spouse may question his or her choice. Can all his or her friends be wrong? The answer is, of course, they can. But the divorcee may now blame the new spouse for alienating him or her from family and friends.
The Prior Spouse
A second marriage has many challenges. The first spouse may top the list. Despite the divorce, some people who have remarried may still have unresolved feelings for the first spouse. If there are children, a connection becomes inevitable. Alimony payments also create a need to keep in contact. That can leave the second spouse feeling insecure and afraid of totally committing to the marriage. It can also make him or her angry that money is flowing out of the marriage to someone who allegedly no longer matters.
A second partner who has never been married might not understand the prior relationship or that his or her spouse may still have dealings or feelings for the ex. They can view the former spouse as an unwanted, intrusive third party in the marriage. Once more, resentment starts to build. Time spent with children is viewed as time stolen from the second spouse. Alimony payment may be resented for the same reason.
Marriages are a challenge. Add children from a prior marriage to the equation, and you seriously add to the problem. Real-life is not a sequel to the Brady Bunch. Blending two families into one can turn into a shipwreck. The children may be resentful of the second spouse and unwilling to get along. The second spouse might resent the children. The couple may simply have diverse parenting styles and argue about how the children are to be raised or how they should behave when they are at their home. The spouse with the children is very likely to blame the stepparent, his or her current spouse, for creating problems. This is just another stressor added to second marriages.
Not All Second Marriages Are Headed For Failure
The reason many second marriages do turn into success is that people actually learn from their mistakes. They married young, messed up, but also grew up. This is perfectly normal human development.
Fortunately, most divorced people marry someone different than their ex, so the same problems probably won’t arise. Their first partner could have simply been wrong for them, and they improved when making their second choice. A lot of maturing and improving character and behavior can happen during the span of marriage one and marriage two.
The fact is, marriage is a healthy and desirable relationship. We have someone to care for, someone who cares for us and supports us. This plays a critical role in our lives. The importance of marriage adds to the chances of people trying harder to make a second marriage work. Under most circumstances, being a couple is better than being alone.
People Are Divorcing Later In Life
While it may seem sad when a marriage of twenty or thirty years dissolves, it could be the best thing to happen to the couple. Many people marry young, inexperienced, with stars in their eyes and dreams as their only assets. They stay together out of habit. By the time this couple reaches fifty, life and marriage are viewed much more realistically. They have obviously tried to work out their problems. Now, with years of accumulated marital wisdom, they can approach someone else with the certainty that they are entering the relationship for the right reasons. They know what is important and what can be ignored.
At their age, their finances are far more secure than they were twenty years ago. They know about budgeting and debt. They are entering a second marriage with considerable advantages that they did not have the first time around.
When Children Object
The children may be over thirty and important corporate executives. When it comes to a parent’s remarriage, however, they can regress to the emotional maturity of a toddler. Your adult children should not keep you from a second chance at happiness. If necessary, the family can meet with a counselor for some honest discussions.
The children may have legitimate concerns about their inheritance. If there are enough assets, they will have expectations. For that reason, meeting with an estate planning attorney can assure that your finances are distributed according to your wishes after your death. Make sure both you and your new spouse understand the specifics of your individual pension plans and IRA accounts and how these will be distributed. Good communication is maybe even more critical in a second marriage.
A second marriage, especially one later in life, can open up concerns that did not exist with marriage number one. A counselor and a family law attorney can do much to help you resolve those concerns and let you move on to a new and better life.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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