Can second marriages be more successful than the first? With dedicated effort and self-reflection, they certainly can be.
View your second marriage as a new chapter rooted in a renowned sense of love, hope, and excitement. These feelings helped relight the spark, so it’s vital to head into your new relationship with keen insights from the past to sustain the flame.
Why? Second marriages are a chance to practice healthy behavior learned from the shortcomings of first marriages.
BEFORE getting married, what conversations about MONEY should you have with your partner?
Use this guide to discuss budgets, assets, debts, goals, joints bank accounts and more.Get the guide
The Stats on Second Marriages
About 50% of divorced adults will remarry within five years, demonstrating that couples are apt to enter subsequent marriages. The median length of second marriages is around seven years, roughly the same average duration of first marriages.
What can factor into why people get divorced after a second marriage? Here are a few reasons why:
- Not taking the time to heal from the previous marriage, bringing baggage and unresolved issues
- Getting married for the wrong reasons (e.g., getting back at your ex-spouse, escaping from problems, fear of being alone)
- Lack of support from friends and family who knew your ex-spouse, leading to anxiety about the new marriage
- Maintaining relationships with your former spouse or their extended family creates tension in your new relationship
- Dealing with the continued fallout from the divorce, including alimony payments, child support, or asset loss, causing tension in your new marriage
- Struggling with the challenges of co-parenting and blended families
While these common challenges can be tough to work through in second marriages, they are manageable. The success of your second marriage will hinge on deep self-reflection and a thoughtful approach to your relationship with your new spouse.
In this guide, you’ll find ways to learn from your previous marriage and set the table for a fruitful one this second time around.
Take Cues from Your Previous Marriage
To succeed in your second marriage, you must uncover what didn’t work with the first one, including your part.
Here are four steps you should take before tying the knot again.
1. Take Some Time for Yourself
Give yourself a chance to heal by caring for your mind and body before jumping into another marriage.
Meet with a therapist to work through emotional pain stemming from the divorce or other elements from your past.
Embrace a healthy lifestyle with nutritious foods, regular exercise, and meditation. Connect with loved ones from your family or friend circle who you trust and feel safe with.
The goal is to become grounded and fortify your sense of self and independence before committing to sharing time and space with someone new — potentially for the rest of your life.
2. Take Inventory
Start with an emotional inventory of your first marriage. Then, write down a list of questions to help clarify major issues in your previous relationship, including:
- What went wrong? Was there one major fight that caused your relationship to end in divorce?
- What did you do right? What are the pillars in your life heading into your new relationship?
- What did you learn from the experience?
- What are you willing to do differently in your next relationship?
Whether you immediately share your answers with your new partner is up to you. The important thing is to be clear about what happened in your first marriage so you don’t repeat the same mistakes.
Remember, your new marriage starts with you.
3. Establish Financial Goals
If your previous relationship was riddled with arguments over money matters, this is arguably the most important step in your second marriage.
Write down your financial goals for year one. Then, continue by recording your 2- and 5-year goals.
For example, do you plan to buy a house? A car? Do you plan to return to school or take time off work to raise children? Answering these questions (and more) will help you have a straight talk with your partner.
When you’re ready to meet with your partner to discuss money, use this comprehensive conversation guide to help navigate a tough but critical discussion.
Also, if you paid for a big wedding before, consider spending less money and time on the frills and extravagances at your next wedding. Allocate those precious resources towards achieving your long-term financial goals instead.
4. Get a Prenup
If you didn’t have a prenuptial agreement in your last marriage, you’ve probably experienced the tribulations of dividing up assets in a divorce. Avoid getting bitten twice, and ensure you’re protected in case of an unexpected end to your second marriage.
Success Guidelines for Your Second Marriage
Once you’ve learned from the past, it’s time to embrace the bright future ahead with your new partner. Keep these five guidelines in mind as you navigate your second marriage:
1. Don’t Compare Partners
Your ex and the new partner are two different people, so don’t expend energy comparing them.
Sure, it’s tempting to size them up side-by-side, but constantly doing so can harm your new relationship.
It’s unfair to your new partner and can lead you to drag in the bad parts of your previous relationship.
2. Embrace the Joys of Blending Families
Roughly one-third of remarriages involve a partner with children from their previous marriage.
Whether you’re bringing your own children into the fold or you’ve found yourself as a stepparent, embrace your new role to find contentment and success in your relationship.
You may find that stepparenting has a different vibe than parenting your own children. It’s important to remember your new role as mentor and supporter versus disciplinarian.
Building a relationship with your new family will take time and patience; mutual love and respect aren’t guaranteed overnight.
Adjusting to new family dynamics is just as difficult, if not more so, for the children as it is for you. Practice empathy and accept that there will likely be some bumps along the way as you build these new relationships.
3. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Simply put: poor communication is the most common cause of divorce. It might have been a bane in your previous relationship.
Avoid this pitfall by establishing a culture of clear, consistent, and respectful communication. Develop healthy habits like active listening, speaking in “I statements,” and honoring your partner’s request to take some time (and space) before discussing things.
4. Practice Appreciation & Forgiveness
The longer your new marriage goes on, the easier it is to take your partner for granted. Build a habit of expressing your appreciation for even the littlest things.
For example, if you’ve been complaining about a broken lightbulb and your partner changed it when you weren’t home, tell them, “I noticed what you did, and I appreciate it.”
In addition, be willing to forgive. Everyone makes mistakes; conflict and hurt feelings can test even the strongest relationships.
But what sets lasting relationships apart is the ability to forgive and move on. When you forgive your partner, it shows that you’re willing to work through problems and committed to solving issues (instead of letting them linger).
It also takes courage to admit you are wrong and ask for forgiveness. By forgiving each other, you create a stronger bond, and when conflicts arise, you can resolve them, knowing that forgiveness is always an option.
5. Be Vulnerable
“Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” – Brené Brown from Rising Strong.
Opening up and being vulnerable with your new partner can be challenging when you enter a second marriage. After all, you’ve been hurt before and may hesitate to trust someone again.
However, vulnerability is the key to trust and building a solid relationship. You can begin practicing vulnerability slowly and build trust gradually.
Start by coming up with a meal plan and exploring hobbies together. Then, you can take it to the next level by opening a joint bank account.
No matter the case, commit to being honest about your thoughts, feelings, and fears. Also, be willing to listen to your partner when they’re sharing.
With vulnerability, you’ll tighten your bonds and develop a powerful foundation for your new marriage that can weather any storm.
Next Steps to a Successful Second Marriage
All marriages require commitment and hard work from both partners. If you’re dedicated to making your second marriage a success, always practice communication, appreciation, vulnerability, and conflict resolution.
It’s equally important to set your relationship up for success from a legal and financial standpoint, with deep talks about money enforced through a prenuptial agreement.
As a longtime family law practitioner, I have deep experience with prenups and divorces, carrying key insights on preparing for marriage to avoid an unfortunate breakup.
Feel free to schedule a consultation with me to help to kickstart your second marriage by navigating the ins and outs of prenups — I’d be happy to help.