The thought of a second marriage can be quite daunting for someone who has had a terrible first one. You may find yourself wondering, “How to have a successful second marriage when the first one was such a disaster?” Once bitten twice shy, as they say. But then, life is also about second chances. There are enough examples of men and women being second or even third time lucky. So let not one failure or bad experience come in the way of experiencing something as beautiful as a committed marriage.
Marriages can fail due to any reason. From compatibility issues – sexual compatibility or emotional bonding – to infidelity or falling out of love, everyone has his or her own unique story. Perhaps this is what determines their attitudes toward a second marriage too.
However, there is no harm in keeping an open mind toward a new relationship. Why? Because love has its own mysterious ways of catching you unawares and tempting you to want to take the plunge – despite a deep dive the first time around. At the same time, you may be wary of suffering the same outcome a second time around and would want to do your best to avoid crashing and burning again. With the right 2nd marriage advice, you can stop history from rewriting itself, and we’re here to help you with exactly that.
What Are The Success Rates Of Second Marriages?
A divorce, especially if it’s been nasty and contested instead of mutual, can be rather traumatic. It is for this reason that most people hesitate to commit again, even if they find love. So, the million-dollar question is “Are second marriages successful?” Unfortunately, science gives mixed results when it comes to the success rates of those getting married again, which pretty much explains why people face so much second marriage anxiety at the mere thought of getting married again.
A 2013 report by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at the Bowling Green State University found that while the average divorce rate for American marriages is 50%, in the case of second marriages, it rises to 60%. and 65% for third and fourth marriages.
However, a study by the UK-based Marriage Foundation found that second marriages are less likely to end in divorce than the first. In fact, 45% of those who marry for the first time are likely to head to splitsville as opposed to 31% who remarry.
There are several reasons why second marriages fail. At times, people rush into a new relationship (probably to spite their former spouse) without due consideration. The biggest problems can arise due to the emotional baggage couples carry from their previous marriage. Settling into a new family and merging two families can pose their own challenges as well.
Understandably, the dilemma of how to make a second marriage work can be daunting. So, when the second marriage anxiety gets bad, it is important to remember that ultimately it all boils down to individual experiences. It is but natural to want to take all steps to prevent a second marriage from failing by not repeating the mistakes of the first one but in the process, you might end up making new mistakes. This can lead to second marriage problems being compounded furthermore, pushing you down the path of another unhappy union.
On the contrary, if you have learned your lessons well and are determined to give it a go again, the steps you consciously take might actually go a long way in making a second marriage successful and strong. There are plenty of second marriage success stories to prove that with the right partner, a second innings in matrimony can turn out to be more fulfilling than the first. Famous successful second marriages of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker, George and Amal Clooney, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are proof.
The long and short of it is that the fate of a second marriage can swing either way, and it’s up to you and your new spouse to figure out the secrets to a successful second marriage that work for your connection. Even so, there are certain dos and don’ts that can help you avoid the common second marriage problems. Together, let’s decode what it takes to make a second marriage successful.
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11 Expert Tips To Have A Successful Second Marriage
Want to know how to have a successful second marriage? Frankly, when you decide to take that walk down the altar again, you will be bombarded with second marriage advice from well-meaning friends and relatives. Sure, a separation is a sad occurrence not just for the couple involved but also their family so the pressure to not fail might be stronger than the first time.
However, marriage is not a race or a project. You can only walk into it with an open mind and hope for the best. That said, there are things you can do to avoid second marriage problems and instead, build a stronger relationship. Here is some expert-backed 2nd marriage advice to make your new journey into matrimony more fulfilling and rewarding:
1. Be self-aware
Whatever your experience was in the first marriage, consider it to be perfect because it taught you everything you need to know. This is one of the keys to a successful second marriage. Unfortunately, most people fail to notice the impact they had on their relationship, and instead, they resort to blaming the failure on their spouse despite knowing the valid reasons for the divorce.
While offering second marriage tips, counselor Dr. Paul Jenkins says, “You might be marrying a new man or woman but you are the same person and will probably bring the same attributes or tendencies to the second marriage that you brought to the first. Hence it is important to be self-aware to navigate second marriage problems successfully and not let them take a toll on your bond with your new spouse.”
“Check what you are bringing into the relationship,” he adds, citing the example of a client who had had eight marriages by her mid-30s. The common pattern in all her relationships – abusive men. “They were all different men but she was the same. It was the same mistake she was making,” he says.
2. Be clear and honest with your partner
Second marriages can fail because you are carrying too many emotional scars from the first one including things that happened to you, your perception and attitude and so on. To avoid them, lay all the issues on the table as you formalize your relationship.
Susie and Otto Collins, certified transformational coaches, list out the stuff that you should sort out upfront while you prepare for a second marriage. “Parenting issues will crop up if you are trying to blend families. Address them, talk about how each of you is going to treat the other’s kids. Money problems can be equally big. From where to invest to where you are going to spend holidays, these are all issues that come up,” they say.
These second marriage problems cannot be wished away. But with a mature outlook, you can learn to handle them in a manner that your relationship doesn’t become strained.
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3. Jump out of old patterns of thinking
If you still have your old ways of thinking, old patterns of looking at the world and how to do things, those elements will keep you stuck in your new relationship too. They will prevent you from being as close, connected and in love as you deserve to be. This is especially true for those getting into a second marriage after 40, as at that point in life people tend to become more set in their ways.
“By junking your previous ways, you are making the way to keep your new marriage alive and vibrant,” says Otto while offering some solid second marriage advice. This is one of the most important things to keep in mind while you prepare for a second marriage. Basically, do not treat your new marriage as an extension of the old one albeit with a new partner. Instead, accept that it will bring new experiences, new learning, new joys and new frustrations. So be prepared.
4. Learn to get over trust issues
Second marriages might arise out of varied situations. If a new marriage is the result of an extramarital affair, do not be surprised if you have trust issues at least in the beginning. “You need to be aware of what you are bringing into the new marriage. In this case, it’s a willingness to look outside your marriage for fulfillment,” says Dr. Jenkins.
Of course, this is no reason to suggest that you or your partner won’t be loyal, caring and loving to one another. “Trust issues are not insurmountable but you have to be painfully honest about how you impacted the other relationship. This makes you realize what you are dealing with,” he adds. One of the most important second marriage tips is to realize that awareness is the first step toward solving second marriage problems like lack of trust.
So, one of the best ways to prepare for a second marriage is to be aware of all the second marriage anxiety, the trust issues, the suspicion that you are both bringing into the marriage as part of your emotional baggage. After awareness comes communication.
Communicate with your partner about your feelings and the issues you are already facing or think you may face in the future. Once you have all the cards laid out on the table, it will get far easier for both of you to deal with the problems at hand. One of the best 2nd marriage advice you will ever receive is to stop brushing trust issues under the carpet and deal with them head-on instead.
5. It’s okay to be vulnerable
If your first marriage had been turbulent, a sense of vulnerability will come in leaving you guarded and wary the next time around. You might hesitate to express your fears, thoughts and feelings which might prove to be detrimental. One of the most important rules for a successful second marriage is to dismantle walls you may have created around yourself and let your partner in.
This is the only way to foster a true partnership, without which you cannot crack the code of how to make a second marriage work. Understand that it’s okay to be vulnerable. You might take your time to get comfortable in the second marriage. You can slowly work toward building trust and confidence in your partner.
Begin with small steps like discussing minor issues such as schedules, habits, meals etc. Ideally, the bigger issues regarding children or finance should have been cleared up beforehand, but if you haven’t, don’t delve into it immediately. Take baby steps.
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6. Avoid comparisons at all costs
Does this even need elaboration? One of the benefits of second marriage is that you have your past experiences to draw from. This is why second marriages are the best. You know what you want out of your partner and the relationship in general. The disadvantage is that it might lead you to compare. Regardless of your experience in your first marriage, there will be inevitable comparisons in your mind, especially during arguments.
There might come some situations when you will wonder how your ex-spouse would have reacted. These triggers are not ideal but unavoidable. “Remember that your second spouse is not the same as your first spouse,” advises Dr. Jenkins.
Easier said than done perhaps, but with time you can truly separate the two relationships in your mind. This is truly a 2nd marriage advice to swear by for building an enduring bond with your new life partner. Do your best to start with a clean slate rather than trying to build a new relationship on the ruins of the first.
7. Have a shared values list
Honestly, this is among the best second marriage advice you will ever receive. It is important to note that some points for the success of a relationship remain constant whether it’s your first or third marriage. Shared values are one of them. While you prepare for a second marriage, ask yourself and then your partner why you are getting into the marriage.
This will give you some perspective on both of your expectations. Second marriages are the best and have the most chances of success when you know both you and your partner are on the same page and share the same core values.
Humility should be part of this list, especially the humility to change and unlearn from previous relationship mistakes. Also, remember that you had a role to play in your previous marriage, in its success as well as its failure. Focus on the success and bring those qualities to this one too for the second marriage to be truly successful.
Are second marriages successful? If you’ve been wrestling with this dilemma, know that yours can be listed as one of the second marriage success stories if you and your spouse learn to be absolutely honest with each other in stating your expectations and vision for a shared future.
8. Forgive. Others and yourself
One of the lesser-known secrets and the best piece of 2nd marriage advice for a successful remarriage is to set yourself free from the grudges and hurt of the past. Whenever a marriage ends, there is the inevitable pain and hurt but don’t make that the basis of judging everything that will happen to you in the future. Accept that we all have flaws, that includes your and your ex-spouse. Without condoning the hurt caused to you, try and forgive to truly move on especially when you have an opportunity with a second marriage.
“Also forgive yourself and be willing to move on,” says Dr. Jenkins, adding, “This is your second marriage and there would be things about your first that you are not particularly proud of. Just be ready to forgive and quit all that happened in the past.”
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9. Do not hide details about your first marriage
Another crucial piece of 2nd marriage advice is to commit yourself to being transparent about the past. When you get hitched the second time, the most basic ingredient should be honesty. Never hide any detail about your spouse or what went wrong in your first marriage from your new husband/wife or their family. Indeed, there might be information that you would rather not share fearing it might lead to embarrassment and problems.
But withholding information can only create trouble later on. Similarly, if it’s the second marriage for your new partner, do not hesitate to ask him or her questions about the first one. Don’t ask questions with the idea of demonizing the previous husband or wife but to genuinely know what went wrong and try to avoid making similar mistakes. Ask the right questions about their ex.
Have open discussions. Be vulnerable. Address your issues and fears openly. Once you share even the deepest, darkest secrets with each other, you are bound to emerge out of it stronger and closer than ever before. This is what second marriages are the best at. They are characterized by emotional maturity and the knowledge that open communication comes first.
If we were to choose just one piece of second marriage advice to give you, we would ask you to neither keep secrets nor fear the vulnerability that can often characterize such intensely emotional discussions.
10. Give it time
Wondering how to have a successful second marriage? One of the best 2nd marriage advice we can give you is that when you enter a new relationship, do not expect miracles immediately. Don’t treat your second marriage as a panacea to all the ills that you faced in the first one. Even if you have dated for a while before taking the vows again, give it time to develop. This also means being prepared to resolve conflicts that may inevitably spill over from past relationships.
Former spouses, children, in-laws, friends… everything cannot be just wished away as the changes in your life impact them in different ways. Be patient and give time for everything to blend smoothly. Hence, it’s advisable to not jump into a new marriage before resolving every possible conflict area.
So, the answer to how to make a second marriage work is to take things slow, cement your bond with your new partner, get everyone affected by this life decision onboard with the idea before you take the plunge and say, ‘I do’.
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11. Learn to compromise and adjust
A new marriage can bring on new challenges. Sometimes, as you get older, compromise or adjustment proves to be challenging. However, any successful relationship needs compromise, connection and cooperation for it to succeed. Don’t be too stubborn and learn to let go of control.
You are the best judge of where you can give in and where you need to stand firm. Bear this rule in mind: Any relationship, be it your first or tenth, that demands you to compromise on self-respect is not worth it. But minor lifestyle changes should not bother you too much, especially if there is a willingness on part of both partners to go the extra mile to make it work.
Ultimately, the ingredients that make any marriage successful are the same – trust, tolerance, sense of humor, empathy, compatibility and above all, love. Do not feel disheartened if your first-time story didn’t have a happily-ever-after ending. So long as the ingredients are right, the second time can always be a winner!
Research shows that second marriages are not as successful as the first one because couples come with the emotional and logistical baggage of the first one, plus the new relationship brings its own problems. However, these cannot be generalized as each story is different.
Second marriages might be a bit harder since a person is already coming with a certain set of expectations that his or her first marriage has set in. Plus, there might be unresolved issues of the first marriage that may cause shadows on the next one if they have not been addressed upfront.
If a couple makes a conscious decision not to repeat the mistakes of their first committed relationship that failed, there is a possibility of the second marriage being happier and more successful than the first one.
The most common term used for a second marriage is remarriage. However, this term is not just restricted to when a person ties the knot the second time but each time a person decides to get married.