We already know that between 40-50% of first marriages end in divorce, but the divorce statistics on subsequent marriages are even more staggering, with 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages ending in divorce.
Sometimes people assume that if we’ve had multiple divorces that we somehow didn’t take the commitment of marriage seriously. Others may assume that after going through one divorce, going through it again (and again and again) may not seem as daunting.
But now after speaking to thousands of women facing divorce – many of which are facing their second or third divorce – I know why these relationships are failing at such a staggering rate:
What we can’t see
When we’re unhappy in a marriage – unhappy enough to consider leaving that marriage – most people genuinely believe the problems are a result of the spouse’s actions or inactions. It’s essentially our partners’ fault.
There are two people in every relationship and both contribute to why it’s not working. Maybe we couldn’t express what we needed within the relationship. Maybe we overlooked some bad behavior that we shouldn’t have. Maybe we simply put the relationship on auto-pilot, assuming it would take care of itself and it didn’t.
There was some role we played in the breakdown of the relationship – even if it was small. And when we’re willing to understand how we contributed to the problems, we can make the conscious choice to do it differently the next time. But when we aren’t willing to see our role in the creation of our experience in the marriage, we may find another relationship, but it will be essentially the same issues in a different pair of pants.
We end up making the same mistakes repeatedly and then think: Maybe we’re just not good at marriage.
Our past influencing our present
If we’ve been divorced at least once, then we already know that to some degree, our first spouse wasn’t right for us. With that realization often comes a boomerang choice in our next partner, someone who is the exact opposite of our exes, so as to not repeat the same experience.
If your first wife was professional and driven, the second one was anything but that. If with your first husband, there was a great deal of chemistry, but he betrayed you, your next choice in partners is safe and honest, but without passion.
When a relationship ends, it’s easy to see why we would be afraid of making the same mistakes again. But choosing the exact opposite is not necessarily the answer and can lead to another painful breakup.
Our most intimate relationships can be the very ones that hurt us the most. And those wounds leave scars. For instance, when we’ve been betrayed, we hesitate to trust again.
These scars, when left unhealed, become baggage that we carry into future relationships, unconsciously making future lovers pay for sins of past lovers. We make our subsequent partners overcome obstacles they didn’t create, sabotaging the relationship with all the ways we need them to overcompensate for wounds we’ve not healed for ourselves.
Second and third marriages end at an overwhelming rate as a result of being unwilling to see our role in the creation of our experience, assuming the exact opposite is the answer and all never healing the wounds we receive from those we love. It keeps us in unhealthy relationship patterns and wondering why some people can have successful marriages but we cannot.
The good news is that when you’re willing to identify your role and make conscious choices to engage and choose differently in your most intimate relationships, as well as heal the wounds from the past and leave your baggage at the door, you can create the relationship you really want and not endure multiple divorces, endless heartache and making the same mistakes again and again.
If you are in a difficult place in your married life and are contemplating about staying or leaving I have something that you would like to read.