First off, I don’t believe the critics. I’m a painfully optimistic person when it comes to almost everything. Yes, aliens do exist but they probably don’t want to hurt us (too much). Most people are genuinely good. And the world is really the most incredible place to be. Just look at the sky — it’s blue! Rainbows. Clouds. Chirping birds. Love is in the air. That said, the divorce rate for second marriages is a little discouraging; it’s sitting somewhere around a sad sack of 67 percent.
While I didn’t beat the odds (and the 50 percent divorce rate the first time around), I’m dead set on not becoming another statistic. I haven’t given up on the idea of growing gray with one person or getting married again. I’ve already picked the place actually (just not the groom). It’s the Project 44 Farm in Granbury — and there’s a tree house for the honeymoon that overlooks three aces of organically grown food. Sooooo romantic. But I digress.
There are three big reasons why second marriages don’t make it, according to the ever-wondrous folks at Psychology Today. Follow this list before you commit.
1. Don’t marry the first person you meet after your divorce.
This is called a rebound. Not always. But sometimes. Well, usually. Common wisdom — and my advice to friends going through similar situations — is to date eight people (sounds like a sensible number) before settling into a long-term relationship with just one. I’m not saying that the long-term relationship will end in marriage, but dating a handful of folks before getting serious will allow both partners to understand what they are really looking for in a new spouse. One caveat here: I known people (now happily married people) who dated and fell in love and thus married the first or second person they found. But, those two people were already friends, or had some existing relationship to build upon. In other words, it wasn’t a Tinder match (not that anything’s wrong with that, mind you).
2. Learn from your past mistakes and your previous relationship(s).
Oh my, this is a big one, isn’t it? The definition of being crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So entering into a marriage (or serious relationship) and doing the same things that damaged the first would, essentially, make you, um, crazy. Yes. So let’s not do that, shall we. I might as well have my flaws and mistakes tattooed on my wrist, because they are in the forefront of my mind during each first date or third. I want to be the best version of myself everyday, and that requires remembering what the less than best version of yourself looks like in the mirror. A few pointers that I’ll throw out there: Say you’re sorry; don’t let pride create a fight; take the trash out; and don’t end a day without a kiss and saying, “I love you.” For me, God needs to be the foundation on which the marriage is built. That’s a mistake I made in my first marriage, which I plan on never repeating.
3. Make family time (and children) top priority.
Many people have children with their first spouse, and bring those kids into a second marriage. Blending a family can be challenging. There’s this huge set of swirling emotions that parents must deal with. Commitment to family time and integrating everyone into this new chapter of life is key. Parents need to have an honest conversation about their views on raising kids, discipline, spirituality, and time commitments before getting married (or even getting serious). I believe having an open-door policy on hard conversations is best. When feelings and issues are pushed down and never discussed, it’s harder for healing to happen. It takes two emotionally healthy partners to create a household where kids can feel safe and secure. That starts with talking about the hard stuff and processing anger, sadness, and happiness.
As always, please write to me with your questions on love, relationships, and life at: firstname.lastname@example.org.