Making second marriages work: you can’t hurry love

More women express unhappiness being married in counseling. Photo: Vincent Van Der Pas,

SAN DIEGO, March 26, 2014 –  People who have gone through a divorce make a new vow: they vow never to go through it again.

But that vow is broken for the majority of people who say marriage vows a second time. The statistics vary but none of them are good news. Two-thirds to as many as 75 percent of all second marriages end in divorce. Three-quarters of third marriages end in divorce. Practice does not make perfect.

Why aren’t people learning any lessons from the failure of their first marriage? People should be older and wiser, know their likes and dislikes, faults and dealbreakers, and have the tools to choose a better partner the second time around.

A common theory is the introduction of the new stepparent and stepchildren into the relationship. It is true the presence of children from a previous marriage is a built-in source of conflict. There can be personality and priority conflicts, and it is the children who often suffer most. It’s no surprise when they act out, cause the cycle of conflict to grow, and damage the relationship between husband and wife who feel forced to choose between their spouse and their children.

Psychologists believe the increase in the divorce rate in second and third marriages is because people are more willing to cut their losses after going through and surviving a divorce once. From my experience I discount this theory; a divorce is never easy and it doesn’t get any easier the second or third time.

From observing hundreds of divorcing couples from my front row seat as a family law attorney, a second (or third) marriage is much more likely to fail for one simple reason: when people marry too soon after one or both are divorced, usually within less than a year.

Research is starting to focus on the “rebound marriage” phenomenon and the statistics show it’s true: the potential for long-term success of a rebound marriage is very low.

Coming out of a failed marriage, each person needs to identify resolve all the issues that caused the first marriage to fail. This is not easy, and it takes time. When people give themselves enough time in between marriages to focus and work through their demons on their own, without any external pressure to please someone, they have a much better chance of choose the right partner and having the tools to make their second marriage last.

How do you know when you are truly ready to pursue a new relationship and perhaps get married again? Ask yourself a few key questions, and answer yourself honestly:

  1. Have you given yourself time to grieve the loss of your marriage? Even if you have no feelings at all left for your ex, it hurts to lose something you once treasured. Grieving takes time.
  2. Are you driven to get remarried because it would be “easier” on you financially or help you share the load? Financial security is all about survival, which is a powerful motivator especially for a parent. But it is a poor basis for a good marriage.
  3. Do you hate being alone so much you’ll take the first good offer that comes along? This is true more often for men than women. Some find being alone too painful to bear. Men think they are in love when they find someone who takes the pain away and listens to them.
  4. Do your kids dislike your new partner? This isn’t always jealousy. It can be a big red flag. Kids really don’t dislike people for no reason. This can be true even for adult children, especially if they still live at home.
  5. Do you feel any déjà vu when problems pop up with your new love interest that are the same as with your former spouse? What the two have have in common is you. This is about you and your issues, not the new partner. It’s a sure sign you are marrying for the wrong reasons. You need to work on those issues so you really are older and wiser before getting married again.

Look before you leap. Counseling is a wise idea to help you cope with your divorce and understand your part in your marriage falling apart. Did you act badly? Did you choose poorly? When you get a handle on this in an honest, clear way, you are improving the odds of developing the skills and wisdom you need to succeed in your second marriage.

Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in Communities Digital News. Follow Myra on Twitter: @LawyerMyra. Fleischer can be reached via Google +

Copyright © 2014 by Fleischer & Ravreby, Attorneys at Law

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  • Male Theory

    Myra, you didn’t mention sex once in your article. The burnt child should dread the fire, gentlemen.

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