Don’t Be A Statistic: The Bleak News About Second Marriages Does Not Have to Be Your Fate
Copyright 2014 Roberta Gallagher
I have been married 4 times and currently in a 10 year committed relationship. I have never considered myself a failure. Nor do I see these relationships as having failed. They lasted a respectable length of time – 8 or 9 years each and for one reason and another, they ended.
I have never felt bitter.
Because of my attitude I have always approached each experience with beginner’s eyes. I have looked for in the next one what I did not have in the last one. Some people say my life symbolizes the triumph of hope over experience.
How do my experiences compare to what is going on in the culture we live in?
In today’s world people are living longer and more active lives, and second and third marriages have become commonplace. Seventy-five percent of women and 80 percent of men who have had one marriage will remarry, usually within 5 years.
The main reason is that we typically feel that we now have the experience and wisdom to make our second marriage a success.
But it turns out that two-thirds of second marriages end in divorce and for third marriages it is 73%.
Statistics are tricky because depending upon the age of succeeding marriages, the baggage we bring into these relationships is somewhat different but certainly more complicated than a first marriage.
The major problem for remarried folks are children from their past relationship(s). Remarried families are complicated in that the prior commitments may be child support and alimony.
A first marriage has time to solidify before children arrive. Second and subsequent marriages come with the need to get right in there.
If you think someone with grown children is uncomplicated, think again. These days an adult child may move back in with bad economic times. Grown children may fear that “their inheritance” will be stolen by the new spouse or be usurped by a child of the union.
First Divorce is the Hardest
When I was getting divorced for the first time I was 27 and had been married 9 years. I was filled with fear because I had never lived on my own. My Mom in her infinite wisdom said “The first divorce is the hardest.”
I was shocked. She had been with my Dad in a terrible marriage. How would she know? Well, she was as right about that as she was about oh so many other pearls.
It is easier to get divorced again. Once you have gone through the shame and embarrassment and whatever societal stigma still remains, you do not feel it again. Unfortunately, some of us think that leaving is a solution and we will be happier the next go around.
An abusive mate who blames it all on you must be left behind. However, what I have learned over all is I must be the person who makes me happy.
“I’m taking a chance on love, simply because you’re near me.” The words to an old song are true. Most people will take another chance on love despite the statistics.
How can you beat the odds?
1. Wait a year or more before making it permanent.
2. It’s cold but necessary to get legal advice. Prenuptial agreements are
helpful. Estate planning is a must.
3. Come clean about past indiscretions as they never stay secret.
4. Honestly reviewing past relationships to see what went wrong and communicating with your current love what you think your part was.
5. Ask for help. Marriage counseling works best when the couple is new and has mostly positive attitudes toward one another.
Jim came to see me to evaluate what he had done wrong in his first marriage which lasted 10 years. He had married too young at age 21 before he understood the nature of commitment. He married a lovely woman with whom he had little in common. She was an introvert and not very social. He was a strong personality who liked to be extremely social. “Her personality wasn’t equal to mine in strength,” said Jim 63, a V.P. in charge of sales for a multi-national corporation. “I was young and knew I controlled the situation, and I rode roughshod over her needs and desires.”
In several years of dating he clarified that he wanted a college-educated, independent, ambitious woman, a companion with whom to enjoy travel, enjoy restaurants and exercise. “I wanted a partnership, someone who could stand toe-to-toes with me and push back,” he says.
Before long, he met Janine, now 52 and his second wife. They spent a year as friends getting to know each other. She also had an important career. He noticed that she could even do some household repairs and had a strong circle of women friends.
They now are celebrating 10 years of marriage. They came to see me because of some challenges they were facing because of some negative attitudes on the part of his adult children. They also wanted an outside party to help them not get stuck in being right and be more solution oriented.
I learned that to spend time being single and exploring conflicts from past relationships has helped me in my current relationship. Truth be told we can only do so much to guarantee a satisfying relationship. There is an element of luck involved.
Be clear – “What you see is what you will get.” Self delusion is the biggest culprit in relationships going south.
Learn how to take stock of yourself, and how to know what you really need and want, then go for it!