Many view their second marriage as a new chapter based on a renowned sense of love, hope, and excitement. Though these feelings have helped relight the spark, it’s vital to head into your new relationship with keen insights from the past. Why? Your second marriage is a chance to correct the shortcomings of the first.
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
Remarriage is becoming more common as studies show that 23% of married couples in 2014 were in a previous marriage. This stat is markedly higher than in past years when, in 1960, only 13% of married couples had remarried.
The growing trend means people are more comfortable with marrying again. However, to succeed in your second marriage, you need to uncover what didn’t work with the first one, including your part in it.
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 here 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?
- What went right?
- What did you learn from the experience?
- What are you willing to do differently in your next relationship?
Whether you share your answers with your new partner right away 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
Marriage is both a legal and financial contract, so you must approach it as such — especially when factoring in California’s community property laws. If your previous relationship was riddled with money disagreements, this would arguably be 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 had a big wedding before, consider spending less money and time on the frills and extravagances on 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.
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 four 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 be detrimental to your new relationship. Not only is it unfair to your new partner, but it can also lead you to drag in the bad parts of your previous relationship.
2. 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 talking things through.
3. 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, and even the strongest relationships can be tested by conflict and hurt feelings. 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 yourself. By forgiving each other, you create a stronger bond, and when conflicts arise, you can resolve them knowing that forgiveness is always an option.
4. Allow Yourself To Be Vulnerable
“Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” – Brené Brown from Rising Strong
When you enter a second marriage, it can be difficult to open up and be vulnerable with your new partner. After all, you’ve been hurt before and may be hesitant to trust someone again.
However, vulnerability is the key to trust and building a strong 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.
Any marriage requires commitment and hard work from both partners. If you’re dedicated to making your second marriage a success, always remember to 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. Feel free to reach out to me to help to kickstart your second marriage by navigating the ins and outs of prenups — I’d be happy to help.