A Guide to Second Marriages: How to Stay Together

Making It in A Second Marriage -- The Video

Sometimes Second Marriages Feel Impossible!

Sometimes staying together in a second marriage seems impossible! There are so many factors at work to complicate your life that it may not even seem worth bothering.

In fact, over 25% of marriages don't make it the second time around, and it's easy to figure out why. First, there is the other spouse hanging around, even if it's just in memory, and the knowledge that your husband or wife has already gone down this path with someone else. Second marriages often have children around, from the first marriage(s), and money must often be divided with another household.

Second marriages are difficult, and I am offering some tips on how to make second marriages work. Like taking fruit off a tree, pick and choose what suits you, and feel free to leave the rest. If anything helps, I will feel happy to have passed it along.

Second Marriage Advice

Start creating better tomorrows.
Start creating better tomorrows.

1. Let Go of the Past

This applies to both of you. You have to let go of what happened in your first marriage or previous relationships. And you have to let go of worrying about what happened in your spouse's marriage.

How? Sometimes it might mean talking about it. Maybe to your spouse, maybe just to a friend. But don't talk about it, with the intent of just re-hashing and complaining. Talk about it, with the intention of letting it go.

You might want to write about it, in a journal, or in poetry. This is an excellent way to work through your feelings, and no one has to see it. If you're worried about snoopy eyes, burn it. One thing that i used to do was write on the computer, but put a password on the document, so I was confident that no one would be able to read it.

One of the biggest keys to letting go is forgiveness. Forgive yourself. Forgive your spouse. Forgive your ex's spouse. It is in the past, and any bitterness you still have will poison you in the present. Forgiveness doesn't mean that you approve, simply that you refuse to be controlled by it anymore.

So, let go of the past, and you can start creating better tomorrows in your second marriage.

2. Put Your Spouse First

Put your spouse before anyone else in your life, before any other people, including the children. If you are a believer, put God first, and your spouse second.

Some people may have trouble with this advice, thinking that it's not right to put the second wife or husband before the children, but it is the best way to achieve long-term stability for both the marriage and the children. When they see the marriage working, they can rest easy knowing they don't have to go through yet another divorce and upset of their world. They've already had enough of that!

How do you put your partner first? By always asking them about plans that concern one of you. By making sure that you have time for them within your week. By not allowing anyone (including your children) to disrespect them, and by generally giving them priority in your life.

What does putting your spouse first do for the relationship? It honours the fact that this person has chosen you above all the other human beings on the earth, to spend their time with. And it gives them the security to keep going in a difficult relationship.

Putting anyone else before your spouse, whether it be children, ex-spouses, in-laws, or friends, sends the message that they are not important, and will always be "second." Being a "second wife," should not mean being second in importance, and if that message is conveyed, it can lead to a multitude of negative emotions.

Putting a spouse first does not mean putting children last. The children's needs are of utmost important, and everyone's needs within a family need to be considered. But children should not be allowed to use the second marriage to demand things that are not appropriate for them as children, just because their natural parent feels guilty.

An excellent rule-of-thumb is to give children as much leeway as you would in a first marriage. Don't try to compensate because you feel guilty for the divorce.

So, putting your spouse first is important in making second marriages work.

3. Be Patient

Remember that it won't be perfect overnight.  Statistics say that it takes seven years for a stepfamily to adjust fully. So, don't expect it to all be blissful in month, or even in a year.

There are a multitude of issues to work out with any new marriage: finances, household chores, lovemaking, personal independence ... these are some of them. Second marriages also add ex-spouses, custody issues and hurt from a breakup to the mix. These things take time, and that's okay!

It's not going to happen all at once, but be happy if you're learning. Be patient with yourself and your spouse. 

4. Meet Each Other's Needs

You need to meet each others needs, as much as you can. This isn't always easy, and not always possible, with all the commitments you probably are involved with (kids, work, housework, family and anything else,) but it needs to be a priority.

What are his or her needs? You need to be able to figure that out, and make an effort at meeting those needs a good percentage of the time. There is some literature out there on this topic, if you want to study this in-depth. The book, "His Needs, Her Needs" is excellent at explaining these needs, and why it is important to meet them. Or you can simply ask him: what's important to you? What do you want me to do for you?

Men tend to need respect and sex. Women tend to need love and affection. Other needs will vary according to each individual, but the important thing is to take the time to meet those needs, and to not take your spouse for granted. We are called on this earth to meet our spouse's needs and no one else can do that!

5. Grab a Few Minutes

With kids and stepkids and trying to adjust to a new life, it's often hard to find time to just talk and spend time together, but you need to. My husband works shift work, and when I was teaching, it was very hard to find time together. Now, we just find it here and there. Sometimes, it's an hour of coffee talk in the morning. Other times, it's a few minutes right before we go to sleep.

Ideally, couples should go out on a date once a week, but sometimes you just cannot do it. So, grab a few minutes together, during these busy times. This will help to strengthen your second marriage, and help you to stay together.

6. Let Go of the Ideal

This ain't no Brady Bunch, and this ain't no fairytale. This was something I had to come to terms with, as a perpetual idealist. Being in a second marriage is not the ideal. Period. It will never ill be.

As little girls, none of us go to sleep dreaming about being someone's second wife. No, it's always us falling in love with a wonderful man, getting married, and having kids. A second wife, someone else's kids, and a divorce settlement were never in our dreams.

This is not meant to be depressing, but real. It is not ideal, and that's okay. It's reality, and it can be good, as long we let go of that other ideal that we had. Sometimes dreams can be bondages, if they stop us from accepting reality.

We might have dreamt about something different, but God allowed this. And now we can take the broken pieces and see what can be woven out of it. You may have seen a mosaic art piece. It is created by putting together hundreds of little broken pieces from what was once whole. Now, if the artist was to keep yearning after the tiles, or vases that were once whole, he could never concentrate on the new mosaic art piece forming in front of him. So, it is with our lives in second marriages. We need to let go of the ideal, and embrace the real.

Rule for marriage: Say I Love You At Least Once A Day
Rule for marriage: Say I Love You At Least Once A Day

7. Say "I Love You" at least once a day

Say "I love you" at least once a day. Preferably a lot more. There's something about saying those words that reminds both of you that you love each other, in spite of the challenges and the complications. My husband say it to each other, whenever we leave the house, whenever we go to sleep, and many times in between. I think it has helped our marriage to get stronger because it is a constant reinforcement of our commitment to each other. It helps even when we have a tiff, and don't want to say it. It helps bring us back to the love we have for each other.

8. Get a Pet ... or some other project you can do together

Having something you can do together makes it easier to be a couple. We have cats. For the first year and a half, my husband didn't care for the cats. He was finally won over, and now the cats are something that we love together, that we talk about together. You need to have things in your life that you share besides grocery shopping, bills and the bedroom. Maybe it might be a project that you take on together in the community, or a game that you play on the computer. As long as you have things that draw you together.

Second marriages have built-in separation (kid that only belong to one of you, ex-partners, separate financial history and so on). Therefore, things that bring together are especially important!

9. Get a Life! (Of your own)

The next point is going to sound like the opposite of the last one, but it's really not. It is both important to do things together, and have things you do on your own.

Why is it important to do things on your own? It is because you will need an outlet for the inevitable conflicts and problems that come up. This is critical! You need to have things in your life that are separate from being a wife, or a husband, and are just "you." Whether it's going jogging, separate friends, a computer game, or knitting, just keep your identity! This is critical and part of any healthy relationship.

Being "you' will help you navigate the difficult times, because you will know that you are a valuable person, regardless of what is happening in your marriage. They will remind you of your identity, before you became a wife, or a husband. And this is important in staying together in a second marriage.

10. Make New Friends

Make some new friends, friends who didn't know the exes, and don't know you or your spouse before.Friends that will not compare this marriage to the first marriage, or act like they have secrets from you, regarding the first spouse.

You might make new friends by joining a new church, or a social group, or just by meeting people in your daily life, and reaching out.

I'm not suggesting that you dump the old friends. Not at all. old friends help keep you focused, and keep your perspective, but old friends are always friends of one or the other of the spouses, and therefore it's not equal. New friends have known both of you an equal amount of time, making for a more equitable friendship.

Our Second Marriage

My husband and I, at are our wedding, with my grandparents.
My husband and I, at are our wedding, with my grandparents. | Source

Our Story

These are some tips for staying together in a second marriage. I hope it helps. Second marriages are far from easy, but can be beautiful, too. Like anything good, they require a lot of effort.

My husband and I have been married for two and a half years. We met several years after the both of us had divorced. For the first two years, our marriage was a nightmare in many ways. We couldn't get past all of our hurts and we couldn't get along. This article is written from experience, of someone who has been through the struggles, and is still working through them. Now, we are learning to love each other, and make it work. I no longer dream of divorce, and look forward to a future with my wonderful husband. I believe it is possible for others to be happy in their second marriage, too.

More by this Author


joleenruffin profile image

joleenruffin 5 years ago from Tracy, CA

I'm not sure if you are recommending the His Needs Her Needs book in this posting, but I just wanted to say that it is an awesome book and has helped my husband and I tremendously in our marriage.

FloBe profile image

FloBe 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Very well written and true. While every marriage takes work, a second (or third) takes a lot more work because there are past issues that MUST be resolved and can't be allowed to fester beneath the surface. You've given some excellent guidelines here.

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada Author

Joleen, thank you so much for the recommendation. I was trying to suggest, but your comment made me realize I should have been more direct, so I have mentioned the book right in the text. That is such an excellent resource and I am so glad to hear it helped you guys out. It is eye-opening to realize how urgent our spouse's needs are!

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada Author

Flobe, thank you so much for the encouragement. It does take SO much work, no matter what your past is, and we all have some kind of baggage, right? I agree that we have to work things out, and not let them just simmer until someone explodes, or even leaves.

Take care, Flobe! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

cookingdiva 5 years ago


I think these are great for first marriage or even first relationship too as many people carry emotional baggage from past! Loved reading this.

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada Author


Thanks so much for your kind comment. I agree with you completely! So many of us carry baggage that must be dealt within a relationship, whether it's a marriage or not. Dealing with our issues is important in all our relationships, even friendships. Take care!

Richieb799 profile image

Richieb799 5 years ago from Cardiff, Wales UK

I can see it would be hard in a second marriage!

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thank you, Richie~! It is hard, but possible! Take care.

banzaradiwana profile image

banzaradiwana 5 years ago from Calcutta,INDIA

loved reading your hub.take care & have a nice day

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada Author

Banzaradiwana, thank you so much for your comment. You take care, too! :)

sureye profile image

sureye 5 years ago from Tennessee

I cannot tell you how much this means to me! My husband and I have been married for 8 months and he has been married before and has 2 kids from that marriage. I, on thr other hand, have never been married and tend to harbor on the past. We have many rocky times but there are some point in your hub that we've already started paracticing and now that i've found this, we shall put the rest into practice! This was exactly what i needed to hear today! can we say "print" and put on the fridge?!


Thank you so much!

Treasuresofheaven profile image

Treasuresofheaven 5 years ago from Michigan

Hi Prairieprincess, I am the one who asked the question in the question and answers. I wanted people to get Tips on Having A Successful Second Marriage. You did an excellent job writing this hub. Sounds like great advice. I know that people can use this valuable information, but I knew I could not do it justice because I am married and have been only once.

You have stepped up to the plate, and I know that many married couples will be able to use this information.

Great job! VOTE UP



prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada Author

sureye, thank you so much! I am so very glad that it came at the right time, and was something that you could use! I appreciate the feedback, and am just hope the very best for you and your husband.

It's great that you've already started learning some of the things, and are still learning and growing. It is a very challenging situation, but it does get better! The first year of marriage is the hardest, which is what everyone told me, but it's true. Take care, and Merry Christmas.

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada Author

Treasuresofheaven, Thank you so much for the comment! It was a great question, and got me reflecting on my experiences and what I have learned so far. I know when my husband and I first started out, I was desperate for answers, too.

So, I hope to give back because it is often a very difficult situation that people are in. Take care, and God bless you!

Char M profile image

Char M 5 years ago from Pacific Coast

#8 and #9 are what I need to work on the most. My 2nd marriage began 5 years ago at age 59. Since then, both my husband and I have retired and our life has totally shifted. He is busier than ever and reconnecting with old friends and I am at a loss, keeping myself busy but not entertained or enjoying it. I know I need my own life but my friends live a few hours away and we now go to his old church so I'm just tagging along. Between moving and retiring, and being a 2nd marriage, it's been hard.

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada Author

Char, it's really hard to get yourself going, after so many changes in your life. It sounds like you're feeling kind of stuck right now. No longer being at your job probably makes it harder to have social contact, too.

Keep trying! Even just one change for the better can start you feeling a whole better in a lot of ways. Thank you so much for replying. Take care ...

Leann Zarah profile image

Leann Zarah 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing your story and insights. Hope my second and last man will come when he and I have achieved being complete with our individual selves.

More healthy and loving years together for you and your man. :)

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada Author

Leann, that's awesome! It is so true that the more whole we are, the better relationship we can have. And I'm sure it will be worth the wait! And thanks for the blessings ... take care!

alenushka profile image

alenushka 5 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

Thank you for the article, it gave me hope that maybe something can be made from my relationship with a man i love. we are living together for almost 2 years, both separated, not divorced... I love him and dreaming to be his wife... working towards my divorce which is no going to be a problem, my ex was abusive, sociopath, we are separated with "help" of police and court order... so...just takes time and money to get Divorce Certificate. Him - he is separated with two kids, they are living with his ex-wife- he said that he is comfortable in his position, he loves me and it is more important for him than to get divorce which is going to be expensive... he also said that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me...these two years... they are full of bitterness and pain, we are trying to adjust our past and our present to each other..But the fact that he is not divorced and even didn't try (separated more than 4 years) makes me so unhappy... it is tearing me apart.. create nervousness, anxiety.. i don't know what to do...I love him like nobody else in my life but i don't want to push him for divorce... and obviously... I won't be able to be with him without finalizing divorce..Sorry, maybe it is that "relevant" to your article... but this is cry from my soul...Thank you again for the amazing article!

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada Author

alenushka, thank you so much for writing and commenting! It sounds like you are going through a really hard time right now. Your situation sounds very painful, and I can understand the nervousness and anxiety you are feeling. When he is still divorced, it makes it impossible, like you say, to really move on with your lives, and you must feel kind of stuck right now. I am so sorry for what you must be going through right now. I think it's normal for us as women to want a commitment, and to actually need it.

I know that my husband didn't want to commit to me, either, and didn't feel ready when we first met. He only committed to me fully after we had broken up for six months, and basically put the stipulation on the relationship that there would have to be a commitment for me to go on in the relationship.

I do feel so much for your situation, and hope that you can find a solution that works better for you. If you want to email me, feel free, and we can talk further. Take care, and thanks again for writing.

htodd profile image

htodd 4 years ago from United States

That's really nice tips...But it might be very tough ..but nothing is impossible

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

Htodd, exactly! Sometimes it does look impossible but it's not, if you keep trying. Thanks for the encouraging words. Take care!

Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

This is great. I am in my second marriage and although we are happy, a lot of what you said rings true for us. I need to work on the first 2 points you mentioned. Really great points though.

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

Karen, thank you so much for your positive feedback. I'm glad to hear that you guys are happy and making it. It is challenging sometimes, isn't it?

Karen Hellier 4 years ago

Yes, but definitely worth it. I agree with whoever said that marriage is like a garden and you have to take care of it on a regular basis.Our garden is beautiful and blooming and I want to keep it that way!

nybride710 profile image

nybride710 4 years ago from Minnesota

My second marriage is somewhat unique because my husband had no previous relationship history, ie, no baggage. I, on the other hand, brought two teenage girls and two cats into the relationship. Even though we've had no major issues, I agree with all 10 points you have made.

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

@NyBride, that is good that one of you had no baggage. I am sure that helped to make things a bit less complicated! I'm glad you agree with the points and that you guys are making it work. Have a great night!

loveth williams e 4 years ago


I have had pleasure of conversing with this gentleman for a number of years. He is my inspiration. He is my rock. Without him I would not be able to look back at my life with such ease and grace, he has shown me how. GOD BLESS YOU / posted by miss loveth

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

Loveth, I am glad you were able to find someone so wonderful. That is a true blessing! Thanks for taking care and many more happy years to both of you.

Jessa 3 years ago

I came to this website because I married a man that I love dearly and our first few months of marriage have been less than ideal. I entered the marriage having no baggage, as in no prior divorces and no children... he on the other hand had one prior marriage and three children.

Reading your article gave me hope. Hope that things will get better... especially after I come to terms with the fact that although this marriage is not ideal to most... it is good for me. Thanks for sharing.

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 3 years ago from Canada Author

Jessa, I am thrilled that this gave you some hope. That is why I wrote the article -- to give hope and encouragement who might be going through similar things to what I went through. It sounds like you are reaching a point of acceptance, which is awesome. Have a wonderful day!

WVgirl 3 years ago

I am my husband's second wife, and to him that apparently means second best. He puts his children, ex-wife, and parents above me. I sacrifice and sacrifice, all for nothing. He gives 50% of every dime he makes to her. I work full time and pay the majority of the bills. He travels for a living and I get to see him every other weekend. I feel like I am single and anchored down by a weight and I can't breathe. He does not love me as a wife, only a friend, companion, and sex buddy. If I dropped dead right now, he would be remarried in 3 months. He says he loves me, but his actions prove otherwise. I am beginning to hate him.

Brian 2 years ago

I was in a relationship with a wonderful woman were both divorced and she has 2 girls, one in college one finishing high school, I have 2 girls also, one in 4th grade and one in 7th grade. She broke up with me I thought of because of the kids because she has already raised hers and she is done with that but as im finding out she has never dealt with past marriage hurts. I am trying to talk to her and help her resolve these, do you think I have a chance

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 2 years ago from Canada Author

@WVGirl, I am so sorry that I did not get to your comment in a reasonable time. I have been busy working and have not been able to keep up with the comments. I will address your question, even at this late date, in case you ever come back, and even for the benefit of others.

First of all, I can honestly say that I understand what you are going through. When my husband and I first got married, I felt much the same way. I felt like I gave it all, and got very, very little in return.

I can also tell you that it eventually got better, but it took a long time. I do not know your husband, but it's possible he is just so burned out right now, that he is incapable of showing you the love you deserve. In many cases, it does get better.

I don't know how you are doing now, but I hope it has gotten better for you. Take care.

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 2 years ago from Canada Author

@Brian, first of all, I apologize profusely for not getting back to you in a reasonable time. I have been extremely busy at work and not able to attend to my articles.

Nevertheless, I will answer you, just in case you check back, and for others that might have similar questions.

In short, yes. I do think you have a chance. Hurt from a past marriage is a tremendous thing to overcome, and takes times, healing and love. It does not happen overnight.

The fact that you are so attune to this woman's feeling and willing to still love her says a lot about your character, and your ability to sustain a relationship.

I don't know where you are at now, seeing it is seven months later, but I wish you all the best, and thank you so much for writing in. Take care!

mathira profile image

mathira 2 years ago from chennai

You have give valid and useful advice. Making your second marriage a success needs incredible patience and commitment as you have to face lots of problems which spring out of your first marriage.

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 2 years ago from Canada Author

@Mathira, you are so right! Incredible patience and commitment are very much required. Thanks so much for your comment. Take care, and have a wonderful day.

lmw71 22 months ago

My fiance wants to have another child ... I cant not have any more children ... I had 6 children with my 1st husband. My fiance has 1 child. He has mentioned that he really wants to have another child and has even asked if I would leave him if he got another woman pregnant. He as said that we could raise the baby together. My heart fell the floor and very nearly shattered. But now he says that all he wants is what he has his son, me, and my children. I am not sure I can believe him... I am not sure that I want to believe him.

doris and me profile image

doris and me 18 months ago from Dhaka

I remember when I first met some of my new wife's friends. One raised a glass and toasted me by saying, "To second marriages—they're the best!"

Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 8 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

Great article. My husband and I are both on our third marriage. And we both have high hopes that this will last us into the end of our lives. I appreciate your advice and suggestions.

Thanks for writing.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 7 months ago from Canada Author

Deborah, thank you so much for your feedback. I am sure that you have learned a lot from your past, and it sounds like both of you are very committed. I wish you all the best for your future. Take care!

Lavieizzybelle 2 months ago

Words cannot describe how helpful I found your advice to be. I am 23 and engaged to my soulmate who has previously been married and has a beautiful daughter the age of 3. His ex has done so much to hurt me, him and our relationship. I've been falsely accused of horrible things, she threatened to prevent me from becoming a licensed therapist, she even told her daughter that she wasn't allowed to love me. I could go on forever. These things were detrimental to my relationship with my fiancé. For a moment, I allowed her actions to get to me and I didn't want to hear out my fiancé. I was just so tired of all the hurt, the tears... I was too busy focusing on how horrible her actions were that I completely neglected my relationship with my fiancé. All these negative thoughts clouded my rational sense of thinking. We went to counseling and it HELPED so much. Your post brought me to tears and for the first time I feel the STRONGEST sense of hope for being my fiancé's second wife. We have been more involved with our church and have stayed Christ-focused and it has made all the difference. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! You have definitely made an impact on my life and from the comments I've read other other's lives too (: Hope all is well!

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