Why Your Second Marriage Is Shaky and How to Fix It

two painted hearts interlockedYou probably didn’t figure on trouble in your second marriage.

Certainly not trouble worthy of a second divorce. After all, this time, you really believed you knew how to keep that kind of relationship meltdown from happening again.

Yet, here you are. On shaky marital ground, contemplating marriage counseling, and thoroughly frustrated with your partner and yourself.

Before you panic, realize all is not lost.

Despite your past relationships, marital strife is something you and your partner can fix. If you’re both committed and ready to take the appropriate steps, your second marriage can recover and far surpass your first.

How do you get you where you want to be? How can you improve emotional satisfaction, physical intimacy, and household stability?

First, examine why your relationship is shaky, then actively pursue solutions with the appropriate support and tools geared toward resolution and recovery.

Commonly, one of the following situations is true in a troubled second marriage:

Unrealistic or Unfair Expectations

A second marriage is typically full of hope and high expectations. Partners may assume the issues of the past relationship were primarily related to the past partner.

Unfortunately, this can lead to too little introspection before moving on to a second marriage. Partners often expect the second marriage to be inherently more fulfilling, more loving, more exciting, more satisfying than the first.

That’s a lot of pressure.

So, in that regard, it may not be that surprising that divorcerate.org reports that 67% of second marriages don’t succeed. Many couples simply do not take time to evaluate their own needs and the reasonableness of their expectations after a failed relationship.

Instead, the rush of infatuation appears to be the safe haven they’ve longed for. So, they, incorrectly assume the new marriage must be the answer to their relationship dreams, only to be quickly disappointed.

• Shaky Second Marriage Fix

Address resentment now!

This is not permission to attack your partner, but do allow yourself to feel hurt or upset with resolution in mind. Rather than beginning with how disillusioned you are by your spouse’s actions, start with your internal work first.

Identify where and why you feel short-changed. Accept that problem areas may be unmet needs and areas of vulnerability you need to process. Slow down the emotion and let your past relationship experiences teach you to be present and a better spouse now.

Conflict and a Communication Collapse

Did you think miscommunication was a problem of your former marriage too? Only to discover, not too far into your current marriage, that your new partner is also a poor communicator.

Or maybe the problem communicator is you?

Might you have simply escaped a problematic communication pattern without realizing you had some communications lessons to learn?

Consider the idea that you and your new partner may have come together without having learned how to engage well, deal with conflict, and resolve issues without doing relationship damage.

• Shaky Second Marriage Fix

Start solidifying your shaky communication with emotional safety and open sharing. Don’t allow problems and responsibilities to overtake your commitment to your connection. Choose a safe space for discussions and solid, supportive marriage counseling. Look for ways to deal with communication patterns that don’t serve you well.

To start turning things around, foster healthier communication in the following ways:

• Limit criticism and fault-finding. Never compare spouses. Use “I” messages and positive reinforcement.
• Intentionally practice showing and voicing appreciation daily.
• Keep disagreements focused, present, and respectful. Be sure to reassure each other that your relationship comes before the differences between you.
• Refrain from the use of ultimatums or using the silent treatment.
• Don’t forget the power of humor and loving touch.
• Give each other a break. Practice compassion, genuine apology-making, and forgiveness.

When all of the above is too difficult, don’t hesitate to seek help by seeking marriage counseling.

The Trials of Family Blending

Many couples enter second marriages with Brady-bunch hopes and aspirations. If you don’t have a plan going in, the stresses of family blending can quickly divide you.

Did your second marriage include custody arrangements, financial responsibilities, and relational baggage connected to blending children from previous relationships? Second marriages are often prone to family loyalty disputes and family rivalries you might not have counted on.

The realities of establishing a working household amid biological/step-parenting differences, co-parenting with the exes and a fuzzy identity as a remarried family can create a million tiny cracks in your marital connection.

• Shaky Second Marriage Fix

Remind yourselves often that you are not adversaries. Your children need to be cared for. Your family needs leadership. Those ends are best met with the loving support your teamwork provides.

You can show your family that you and your partner are in this together by setting firm boundaries and placing emphasis on patience, friendship, and respectful interaction across the board.

Keep your boundaries clear and act as supporters of each other’s biological relationships. The key is to respectfully back each other up rather than taking over as a disciplinarian or to try to force relationships that will take time to form.

Bonding this way with each other’s children eases tension and creates a more trusting, supportive union between you and your partner as well.

The Good Feelings are Gone

What brought you together and made you believe that you could try love and marriage again? What happened to the fun and laughter that you so enjoyed? Where are the great hugs and kisses that you both used to greet each other?

Good feelings must be generated with intention in a long-term relationship. No marriage can tolerate neglect.

• Shaky Second Marriage Fix

Refuse to take this marriage for granted despite whatever pressures you might be experiencing. You are in control of the goodwill and passion between you. Choose to be together and inspire and inspire each other.

Prioritize time together. Unplug, eat meals together and go to bed at the same time. Touch each other often, it has a calming, feel-good effect that bonds you regardless of the circumstances.

Finally, be sure to remain open and vulnerable. Express your needs and look for each other’s cues for connection. When you pay attention and choose to be responsive, love and a sense of belonging grows and stays strong.

Click here to learn more about marriage counseling and how to have a successful relationship.

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, infidelity, careers, and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work-life balance.

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