Why Second Marriages Fail

Second marriages fail at a rate of around 67%- which is 18% higher than that of first marriages. If you are wondering how this could be, it's probably because you are under the mistaken assumption that people learn from their mistakes and in doing so are less likely to repeat them. Apparently this is not true in remarriage. Since no one wants to find themselves in a second or third failed marriage, it is important for divorced and dating folks to understand why it is that second marriages fail at a higher rate and then to make careful and conscious choices that will help them to avoid this painful and destructive pattern. The following are the most common contributors to a failed second marriage that I've encountered in my relationship practice. Do any of these sound familiar?

* Running away from a wrong relationship instead of towards a good one

Trying so hard to not marry someone with the same traits and characteristics of the first spouse often leads an individual to go in the opposite direction. It is often like gong from the pot and into the fire. Different does not equal better- and too often the problems are worse.

* Repetition of a negative pattern of attraction/dating/establishing a relationship

Patterns can develop in the type of person someone is attracted to, the way they handle their dating life (how they meet and connect, moving too fast, ignoring warning signs). It's not intentional and often has much to do with unconscious feelings and drives that should be dealt with before jumping back into the dating pool.

* Baggage is brought into the new relationship because it wasn't sorted, unpacked and put away before moving forward with a new person.

The new relationship can be used as a way to avoid loneliness, for security, or to try and get over an old love. However, those feelings and issues will resurface in the second marriage and become a destructive force. Work on yourself before trying again with a new relationship.

* Ex spouses can be a source of stress that wasn't present in the first marriage.

They are a part of your new spouse's life when there are children involved. Money issues can be huge if your new spouse has financial obligations such as child support and/or alimony payments to make. These will impact your finances and lifestyle choices.

* Step children and blended families present new and different challenges that many folks don't handle well.

Kids always have the hope that their parents will get back together again. When a parent remarries, the new spouse is often seen as the reason that will never happen and resentment and anger will get acted out by the kids. Then there are the issues related to how discipline will be handled and by whom--and the biological parent may resent how their new spouse deals with an acting out child, which kids happily exploit to their advantage.

* The stress of time and scheduling is even harder in remarriage if there are kids involved.

Shared custody brings a whole new level of planning and coordination and takes a lot of energy and time. Communication needs to be good and strong between the parties and too often it is not and misunderstandings and arguments follow.

* There are ex-in-laws and more grandparents to deal with.

It can be hard to coordinate celebrations and holidays around one nuclear family with two sets of grandparents. Add the ex-in-laws and biological grandparents along with the step grandparents and it can feel like the job of an air traffic controller to keep things straight. Then there are the resentments towards step-parents and grandparents by the biological ones. Dealing with this successfully takes a great deal of skill, maturity, and patience.

* It's easier to leave the second time if don't have shared kids to keep you there, and you have done it once and know you can do it again.

We are adaptable beings and once we have experienced something, we have made adjustments in response to it, and if we re-experience it, it never feels quite the same again. Therefore folks are less likely to work on their second marriage issues, or stick it out for the kids or until things could get better.

Does all of this say that you should avoid remarriage because you are doomed to fail? No, it means that you will have a greater chance of success if you enter a second marriage with your eyes wide open, recognizing that "being madly in love" with someone will only take you so far. When you marry at any time, you are marrying that person's family--when you marry a second time you inherit those other family members who may still be a part of his or her life due to the ex and any children they may have had together. Marriage is a contact sport-- make sure you train carefully for it and fully prepare yourself for the challenges it can present.

Want to read other articles on this subject?

"The Hail Mary pass for a dying relationship"
List of more "Relationship Challenges" articles

"The Struggling Newlywed"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

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