How to Make A Second Marriage Work
Deciding to remarry after a first marriage ended in divorce, is likely a decision one would take very seriously. Second marriages are typically very challenging. In fact, more than 60% of second marriages end in divorce.
Therefore, making second marriages work over the long term is even more challenging.
The question going into this union is: how can the second marriage be more successful than the first?
Isn’t life about second chances?
A failed first union does not necessarily mean that your second chance at happiness and love will also end in divorce.
However, there will always be hurdles.
How Successful Are Second Marriages?
The common perception is that someone who remarries has learned enough to grow beyond their past failures in the first marriage and more prepared for the second marriage.
However, despite those perceptions, the failure rate for second marriages is very high. According to demographic data, 67% of second marriages fail.
Why Second Marriages Fail
Some reasons for failure are:
• Rushing into a second marriage without understanding the dynamics causing the failure of the first one
• Carrying divorce baggage and past experiences into the new relationship
• Unrealistic sexual, emotional, and sometimes financial expectations from the new partner
• Not being prepared for step parenting
• Financial stress, specifically if child support and spousal maintenance are involved.
How Can I Make My Second Marriage Successful?
Making the effort to learn more about yourself, the mistakes you made and the expectations you have going forward can improve your chance of success.
Without a thorough analysis of the past issues and how they might reoccur in a future marriage, you may end up becoming another unfortunate statistic.
Take the time to truly examine what went wrong in in your marriage with the benefit of hindsight.
- Understand, learn and accept your mistakes instead of blaming everything on your ex. Understanding how you participated in the decline of the first marriage greatly improves your chances of success in the second.
- Recognize that we tend to repeat old habits even if they’re dysfunctional. Learning about how you may get unnecessarily defensive, causing unintended fights can help you to course correct.
- Be open and precise about your insecurities, trust issues, and concerns from the previous relationship.
- Try to overcome resentments. Holding resentments from the previous marriage can be toxic for the second.
- Communicate honestly and often. Many failed marriages failed because of poor communication between spouses.
- Learn to agree to disagree when necessary. This is a skill that can prevent many unnecessary arguments.
- Recognize criticism and whether you are critical. Complaints about critical spouses are common. Nitpicking and perfectionism can chip away at at the foundation of your relationship.
- Learn to apologize when you’re wrong. Apologies should be genuine and heartfelt.
- Display a positive and accepting attitude. This is about keeping an open mind and finding solutions to problems.
- Understand your role as a step-parent. This is essential for blended families. Step-parents do well when they have thoroughly discussed their expectations of each other as regards the step children and the roles they play.
The Benefits Of A Second Marriage
A second marriage may have benefits that a first marriage did not. They are however, dependent upon the wisdom of the spouses to have done their own personal work in understanding themselves, what went wrong and the role they played.
If partners have gone through those steps and taken stock of themselves, they may beat the odds and have a successful second marriage.
• More Experience. You have the experience of the first marriage and a better knowledge of yourself. Therefore, you are better able to navigate some of the obstacles of marriage more successfully.
• Better Communication. The assumption here is that you have learned from your mistakes and have improved your communication skills. You have learned to be less reactive and more able to listen more carefully for what your spouse is trying to convey.
• More Prepared. You understand the realities of daily married life. You are better prepared for a crisis or sudden turn of events.
• More Emotionally Open. Being in love again can change your behavior and perception. You can be more forgiving, intimate, more in tune with your feelings, and more appreciative of your spouse.
• More Empathic. You may have been a little shut down or even emotionally unavailable in your first marriage. The second marriage gives you the opportunity to change. Learning to be more empathic is a vital component of a great relationship.
• Realistic Approach. You can be more practical and realistic the second time around. Presumably you are mature enough to know how to have conversations about finances, intimacy, child rearing and how to handle previous relationships.
Marriage will always be a complicated adventure built on love and requiring both intuition and skill for it to be long lasting.
Second marriages present partners with challenges they may not have thought about in their first. Understanding how to successfully navigate those challenges is key to having a great second marriage.
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About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as premarital counseling, navigating second marriages, infidelity, careers, and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work-life balance.