Second Marriage? The "Should I Get Married Again?" Checklist
Are you divorced and thinking about getting married again?
Be careful. Getting remarried can be very meaningful or it can be a disaster. That’s why it’s important to understand the common mistakes that people make going into another long-term relationship. If you’re considering remarriage, check off the items below that apply to you. Then read the explanations that follow to learn how to deal with them.
1. Do You Still Blame Your Ex-Partner for the Failure of Your Marriage?
You may have every right to be angry about the failure of your marriage. And it’s a natural defense mechanism just to say, “It’s all your fault.” But even if that were true, your anger will interfere with your ability to be fully involved with your new partner. So rather than blaming your ex-partner, it’s better to learn how to let it go. In other words, you need get your last partner out of your thoughts—by dealing with it—before you get married again.
2. Do You Believe That If Two People are Passionately In Love They Really Should Get Married?
Falling in love is the traditional way to pick a partner, and it washes away the memory of your last relationship. But sometimes the carefree feeling at the beginning of a relationship doesn’t tie people together very well for the long-term. That’s one reason why so many first marriages end in divorce.
This happens because when you’re struck by love you generally don’t really get to know your new partner very well before you rush off to get married. Then you wake up one day thinking you’re in bed with a stranger. None of this is your fault, however, because the state of being in love naturally changes. Love either matures or it falls away. That’s why it’s best to wait to get remarried until after you know your partner well enough to feel rewarded sometimes just to be around him or her. In the meantime, enjoy your flaming hot relationship, but don’t make any long-term commitments. Not just yet.
3. Are You Marrying the Person You Had an Affair With?
The person you had an affair with seems irresistible, of course. He or she can make you feel young and invigorated. But people who have affairs usually turn out to be lousy marriage partners. That is why 80% of affair-related marriages end in divorce. So if you’re having an affair, slow down, get some space, and think about what you’re doing. You might be marrying a person who has a weakness for having affairs. You might still have that same weakness yourself.
4. Are You Getting Married Again Because You’ve Found “The One?”
It’s great, actually, if you think you’ve found your soul mate. And maybe you’re high as a kite, elated that your dream has come true. But so many people said that about their last partner. Then the perfect new partner turns out to be a nightmare. When this happens, people find themselves divorced and blaming each other, saying they married the wrong person. But they are likely to find another “perfect partner,” say he or she is “the One,” and the cycle of having unsatisfying relationships repeats itself all over again.
Finding the "One" and having that relationship fall apart, of course, is one of the major reasons second marriages end in divorce. So if you find yourself in this situation, you need to slow down. Think about the fact that there are five feelings of love that are involved in a high-functioning romantic relationship: a) the in-love feeling, b) sexual feelings, c) feeling like friends, d) feeling like family, and e) feeling like you want to help your partner achieve his or her goals.
So, if you’ve really found your soul mate, you should be able to identify how you both have any or all of these feelings going for each other at various times. The point, of course, is that if you’ve found “the One,” slow down. What could be the hurry, anyway, if this really is your soul mate?
5. Do You Compare Your New Relationship to Your Old One?
A second marriage will have different qualities compared to a first marriage. That is one of the reasons why second marriages are often very meaningful and fulfilling. But if you’re stuck thinking about the last marriage, you cannot move freely into the new one. You’ll drag your partner down with yesterday’s relationship expectations applied to an entirely new situation. So put your old relationship aside and figure out what your emotional needs really are today. But first, look at the issues you did not understand about marriage before going into the last one. And then move on, a little wiser from what you learned from your last relationship.
6. Have You Forgotten About Your Children’s Needs?
Your children’s needs are just as important as your and your partner’s needs. If you or your partner’s children are not happy, they’ll work to sabotage all the relationships in your new household. And on top of that, they’ll act out at school, by failing classes or doing crazy things. That is why the number one issue people argue about in second marriages is disagreements on childrearing.
So you need to work out the kinds of rules you and your partner will use with the children and start applying them before you get married. And you need to include the children in your relationship early on. It can take a couple years for them to fully adjust to living in a blended family. That’s because they will find all the changes to be confusing. So for the children’s sake, slow down and make sure it feels like a family before you try bringing all the children into one household.
7. Have You Had a Really Long Engagement?
You may have told yourself that a long engagement will allow you to “test” your partner. Or, perhaps you want time to figure out if you are really devoted to building a lasting relationship. That’s all OK. But sometimes the long engagement may also indicate that you are reluctant to make a commitment to having another serious long-term relationship. Or you may sense that your partner might not cut it in the long run. And, perhaps, you haven’t said anything. Your partner could feel this way and not have told you. And then, maybe it’s comfortable just the way things are. That’s OK, particularly if you’ve become good friends.
But if you haven’t become good friends after all this time, you and your partner have communication problems that could sabotage your relationship. So be sure that you’re really devoted to the relationship, kind of like the way friends are devoted to each other, before you go to the altar. Also be sure you can kick back and relax together. And ultimately, be sure that you don't hold grudges--because just forgive and forget.
8. Are You Marrying the Person You’re Living With?
People often have lower standards for cohabitating partners than for people whom they marry before living together. That’s because cohabitation often starts as a short term solution to an immediate problem, like a roommate moving out and one partner needing more rent money.
Yet after living together for a while, partners become more and more invested in each other’s lives and in their problems. And often they get married simply because they think it is the thing to do. But their chances of making it work out are not all that great. That’s why two-thirds of the people who live together before a second marriage eventually get divorced. So if you’re living with your partner, you need to ask: Are we really dedicated to each other, and is that why we’re getting married? Or, is it just convenient to get married because we’re together under the same roof?
9. Do You Really Understand Your Emotional Needs?
Your emotional needs probably were not met in your last relationship or you would not have gotten divorced. Yet you may not have stopped to assess what you really need out of a new relationship. Is it the security of being close to someone who feels like family? Or is it the need to have a partner who feels like they are on the same team as you are on? Perhaps it’s sex. And have you taken a look at how you are really feeling right now?
10. Is This a Rebound Affair?
You know, it’s quite common to be depressed after a divorce. That’s why a rebound love is so exciting. It takes a person away from the drag of thinking about the last relationship. But still, a rebound love affair doesn’t cure the underlying problems that can linger on from a lousy first marriage. That’s why you need to take stock of what you really need in your life right now. Know who you are and what your emotional needs are before you remarry.
All the ideas in The "Should I Get Married Again?" Checklist are important.
They cover most of the issues that make or break a second or third marriage. If you’ve checked off any of the items, you need to carefully consider the ideas covered in this discussion. If you’ve checked off two of them, you need to assess what you are really doing. Do that right now by asking yourself, “Why am I getting married?” Is it because you’ve found the person you want in your life every day? Is it because you can kick back with your partner and let go of your stress? If so, that’s great, because that is what feeling like family is like when things are running functionally.
If you’ve checked off three or more items, you probably have emotional issues that you need to deal with before you get married again.
So you might think about engaging a professional counselor to help you assess what those issues are. You may have, of course, figured out all you need to know about remarriage by doing your homework online, looking at articles like this one. If so, good luck! Have a great wedding and a happy, fruitful marriage!.
Pat Bubash is a licensed professional counselor who is an expert on second marriages. Her interview, below, with a psychologist will take you into the lives of couples who have successfully remarried. In doing that, Pat will walk you around all the pitfalls and joys of getting married again.
Interview with the author of Successful Second Marriages
Dr. Billy Kidd is a psychologist. He has researched romantic relationships--read the scientific literature, had focus groups, along with individual interviews. He started researching wellness, having become tired of the model that focuses on illness. His articles are all science-based.