You may have heard that second marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages. But yours doesn’t have to be a statistic if you know what to expect and take steps to strengthen your bond.
If you haven’t remarried yet but are thinking about it, one of the best ways to strengthen your future marriage is to begin couples therapy now, even if you currently have a wonderful relationship. The challenges of marriage, let alone a second marriage, tend to bring out personality traits and baggage that don’t come out when you’re courting. If you’re already married and this is a remarriage for at least one of you, you may be experiencing some problems that need to be addressed.
Complications of a Second Marriage
The biggest issue that tends to impinge upon every aspect of a second marriage is emotional baggage. Usually, there’s a lot of hurt and distrust, and the idea of “getting married and living happily ever after” has been shaken. The sense of marital stability has been undermined, and for some people, it can seem easier to “walk away” when things get tough again.
Money is a major cause of divorce even in first marriages, but second marriages often have even more complicated financial situations. As second marriages tend to take place in later life, one or both of you may have significant assets/debts or financial goals that will have to be blended. Child support or spousal support could strain your relationship, especially if you begin to have children together.
Problems that contributed to the dissolution of the first marriage may persist, leading to the same problems in the second marriage.
Juggling all the details and schedules of family members becomes a herculean task when more than one family of children is involved. Add to that the problems that sometimes arise when step-parents try to bond with or discipline step-children and the marriage can get even more challenging.
How Counseling Can Help
Whether a couple has already married or is considering marriage, I help them recognize their emotional issues, personality traits, and habits that could contribute to tension. Together we create strategies to overcome these issues which in turn, leads to more support, love, trust, and intimacy.
Each spouse needs to come to recognize the hurt and distrust they may be dealing with to be able to effectively combat it when it becomes an issue. For instance, if a wife was previously a victim of infidelity, it’s important she not immediately doubt her new husband when he comes home late from work. Recognizing these automatic reactions is the first step to healing them.
I help couples to be vulnerable and to talk to each other about their hurts as honestly as possible. This is the first step toward redeveloping trust. Continuing our example, if the new husband understands his wife’s fears, he could take steps to reassure her until this fear is replaced by trust again.
Developing healthy communication styles that work for each person’s personality is the next key to a healthier marriage. Listening, discussing in a calm, non-accusatory manner, and compromising are important skills for any couple. Part of communication should include defining expectations, which would include the use of finances, disciplining step-children, and any other possible complicated issues.
Finally, we discuss setting aside time for the couple to have quality time alone together and to keep the spark of love a lively flame. It’s critical to recognize that there will be ups and downs in any relationship and that a bad time does not mean that the marriage is failing.
You can make your second marriage work. Get help if necessary, to work through the issues that can shake your marriage, and remember your love for each other.