There are a lot of myths about entering and maintaining a successful marriage with someone who had tied the knot before such as believing that your partner will be able to avoid pitfalls like financial stress and let go of the baggage from their first marriage.
After all, they must have learned lessons from their first marriage and divorce.
According to authors, Hetheringston, Ph.D, E. Mavis, and John Kelly, in their book titled ‘For Better Or For Worse:Divorce Considered,’ stated that even though 75% of divorced people will eventually remarry, most of these marriages will fail due to the difficulties that remarried couples face. These problems arise at a time when they are trying to build a relationship while adjusting to, and combining, existing families and complex relationship histories.
Few couples understand at the onset how complicated and demanding remarriage is.
When couples begin a remarriage, the most frequent mistake they make is expecting that everything will fall into place and run on automatic.
Love may be sweeter the second or third time around, but once the bliss of a newfound relationship wears off, the reality of joining two distinct worlds sets in.
Secrets to a successful second marriage
Different routines and parenting styles, financial issues, legal matters, relationships with ex-spouses, and children as well as stepchildren, can chisel away at the closeness of the remarried couple.
If you haven’t established a strong connection and lack the tools to repair daily breakdowns in communication, you may end up blaming each other rather than being supportive.
Example: The case study of Eva and Conner
Eva, 45, a nurse and mother of two school-age daughters and two stepsons, called me for a couples counseling appointment because she was at the end of her rope.
She married Conner, 46, who had two children from his marriage ten years ago, and they have two daughters six and eight from their marriage.
Eva put it like this, “I just didn’t think our marriage would be this difficult financially. Conner is paying child support for his boys and recovering from a loan his ex-wife defaulted on. Alex, his oldest son, is heading to college soon and his youngest, Jack, is attending an expensive camp this summer that’s draining our bank account.”
She continues, “We have our own two kids and there simply isn’t enough money to go around. We also argue about our parenting styles because I’m more of a limit setter and Conner is a pushover. Whatever his boys want, they get, and he just can’t seem to say no to their unlimited demands.”
When I ask Conner to weigh in on Eva’s observations, he says he sees a grain of truth to them but that Eva exaggerates because she never got close to his boys and resents them.
Conner reflects, “Eva knew that I had financial problems in my first marriage when my ex took out a loan, never paid on it, and then quit her job during our divorce so she could get more child support. I love all of my kids and my boys, Alex and Jack, shouldn’t have to suffer because I divorced their mom. I have a good job and if Eva spent more time with them, she’d see that they’re great kids.”
Although Eva and Conner have many issues to work through as a remarried couple, they must first decide that they are interested in supporting each other and willing to become the bedrock of their family.
Making a commitment to trust and appreciate your partner can strengthen your second marriage.
Your partnership needs to be strong and based on the premise that you choose each other every day and you’re dedicated to making time together a priority and treasure it.
Make a commitment to spend time with your partner
While interviewing dozens of couples for my forthcoming book “The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around,” one thing became abundantly clear – the challenges of marrying someone who has been married previously (when you have or have not) are often swept under the rug and need to be discussed to prevent divorce for remarried couples.
No matter how hectic and busy your lives are, never stop being curious about each other and nurture your love.
Make spending time together a priority – to laugh, share, hang out, and cherish one another.
Select one of the daily rituals below and fit it into your schedule each and every day! Wondering, how to make a marriage work? Well! This is your answer.
Rituals to reconnect in your relationship
Following are the four rituals that will help you and your partner stay connected.
1. A daily ritual of reunion
This ritual may become one of the most important ones you develop as a couple.
The most crucial moment of your marriage is the moment of reunion or how you greet each other daily.
Be sure to stay positive, avoid criticism, and listen to your partner. It might take a while to see any change in your feelings of closeness, but this ritual can be a huge boost to your marriage over time.
Open up the lines of communication by validating his or her perspective, even if you don’t agree.
2. Eat meals together without screen time
It may not be possible to do this daily but if you strive to eat meals together most days, you will probably find you are dining together often.
Turn off the TV and cell phones (no texting) and tune into your partner. This should be an opportunity to discuss things going on in your lives and to show you understand by saying something like, “It sounds like you’ve had a frustrating day, tell me more.”
3. Play your favorite music to enjoy wining and dancing
Put on your favorite music, enjoy a glass of wine or beverage, and dance and/or listen to music together.
Making your marriage a priority won’t always come naturally but it will pay off over time because you’ll feel more emotionally and physically connected.
4. Adopt the following daily rituals
Adopt 2 of these brief but satisfying daily rituals that take 30 minutes or less –
- Debrief your day when you arrive home while you cuddle or sit close.
- Shower or bathe together.
- Eat a snack and/or favorite dessert together.
- Walk around the block several times and catch up about your day.
You are the only decision-maker here!
What you do for your ritual is entirely up to you, of course. In ‘The Seven Principles That Make Marriage Work,’ John Gottman recommends a ritual of spending at least 15 to 20 minutes a day having a stress-reducing conversation with your partner.
Ideally, this conversation needs to focus on whatever is on your mind outside of your relationship. This isn’t the time to discuss conflicts between you.
It’s a golden opportunity to show empathy and support each other emotionally concerning other areas of your life. Your goal isn’t to solve his or her problem but to take your spouse’s side, even if their perspective seems unreasonable.
The best way to do this is to listen and validate your partner’s thoughts and feelings and express an “we against others” attitude. By doing so, you’re on your way to achieving a successful remarriage that will stand the test of time.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Terry Gaspard