Did your divorce story start with, “I knew he was the one!” ??
At my wedding my mom stood up and gave a heart-felt little speech, which included, “After Emma went out with him for the first time, she called me up and said, ‘I know he's the one!'”
That's a really sweet story, the one a mom is supposed to say at a wedding. It wasn't true. The real story was when I met my ex, I was also carrying out a long-distance romance with an older British school teacher who lived in Santiago, Chile, and in my youthful, South American-sized ego told anyone who would listen how I was tormented in my inability to chose between the two men.
Ultimately, I made the right choice, but, well … the rest is history.
How to do second marriage without divorce
I tell this story to illustrate how there is very little room in our culture to commit romantically for any other reason other than a soulmate, love-at-first sight, meant-to-be, heaven-sent connection. I'm open to that kind of magic, but I'm not banking on it. After all, check out these stats on second marriages, success rates, and percentages of second marriages that end in divorce:
Second marriage statistics
While the estimated rate of divorce for first marriages is 40% to 50%, according to PolitiFact.com, with marriages ending in divorce lasing an average of seven years.
Are second marriages more successful?
If you're wondering if second marriages are more successful, the answer is no: 67% of second marriages end in divorce, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, figures for the United Kingdom found that divorce rates are much lower for remarriages than first marriages, with couples in that country who marry today face a 31% risk of divorce during their lifetime, compared to a 45% risk of divorce for couples where both spouses are marrying for the first time.
Second marriage divorce rate
While two-thirds of second marriages end in divorce, 74% of third marriages end in divorce. There are no reported estimates on the odds of a second marriage lasting.
However, risk factors for divorce include:
- You or your partner's parents were divorced
- Adults whose parents divorced and remarry are twice as likely to divorce than adults whose parents divorced but never remarried
- You are poor
- Lower education correlates with higher chances of divorce
- You married young
- Spouses practice different religions or race
- Cohabiting or having a child together before marriage
Second marriage problems
Common second (and third, fourth and fifth!) marriage problems include:
- Conflict over step-children and blended family issues
- Jealousy of an ex-spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend
- Resentment over ongoing conflict from previous marriages
- Disagreements over where to live, housekeeping and personal space (each spouse may be used to having their own home, but now must share in the remarriage)
- Money (just like in a starter marriage!)
- Stirring up of wounds and baggage from previous relationships
- Lack of trust — of each other, and of yourself
But how do you learn to trust your dating instincts when they were likely horribly wrong once? How do you learn to trust your own judgment when your judgment lead you to the painful fate of divorce?
The answer is listening to your gut, but also digging in, being patient and committing to knowing someone. This is increasingly difficult, thanks to our culture of instant gratification. This Thought Catalog essay captures the affects of online dating, social media and a general culture void of longterm commitment.
Our choices are killing us. We think choice means something. We think opportunity is good. We think the more chances we have, the better. But, it makes everything watered-down. Never mind actually feeling satisfied, we don’t even understand what satisfaction looks like, sounds like, feels like. We’re one foot out the door, because outside that door is more, more, more. We don’t see who’s right in front of our eyes asking to be loved, because no one is asking to be loved. We long for something that we still want to believe exists. Yet, we are looking for the next thrill, the next jolt of excitement, the next instant gratification.
Oh man, is that the cold truth. Except for this: I want to be loved, and I know a lot of people out there who want to be loved, too. In fact, everyone wants to be loved. But we can confuse an exciting date, sexual chemistry or a glamorous person for the promise of love. Sometimes, the problem is not that we don't commit enough, we commit too much.
I'm guilty of all the above. My recent history includes going bananas over the cute cardiologist with the glamorous life resume full of charity work and swing dancing and media startups that would give any mom a case of love-at-first-sight. Yet, I'm guilty of overlooking an entire evening of his self-references of being an “alpha prime,” all the way to his trying to sneak around my insistence of condom use before I finally committed to not committing to a second date.
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But, ultimately, what is wrong with any of it? In those two little examples, I spent four mostly nice months with a good person, and in the second I enjoyed some fun company, a free dinner and left the scene with my dignity in tact and a good story in my pocket. I stuck it out in each one until I couldn't stand another minute.
What if you look back on your courtship with your ex, only to see the red flags waving like crazy all over God's creation? Do you regret every moment you spent with him? The kids and the memories? Would your life really be better if you had left him sooner — or never got involved at all?
Studies find that therapy has been helpful for millions of individuals and couples. Pre-marriage counseling can be a great way to work through any issues now, as well as understand if marriage is right for you.
Does marriage counseling really work?
A 2017 University of Miami study of veterans' marriages found the relationship were still improved 18 months after therapy. Another study from the University of Ottawa researchers found that couples therapy benefits lasted at least 24 months after treatment.
When should you seek pre-marriage counseling?
It is a good idea for all couples to seek pre-marriage therapy. Counseling before committing to your relationship can help establish rules and boundaries, and questions regarding:
- How to blend families, co-parent and manage step-parenting
- Manage money and finances in a second marriage
- Establish guidelines regarding exes
- Create expectations for how to manage in-law relationships and holidays
- Improve communication, sex and connection
You may seek pre-marriage counseling near you through your current therapist, a leader in your church or temple, a specialist like a certified financial advisor — or through online therapy.
Our list of best online therapy sites includes BetterHelp, which has an A+ Better Busines Bureau rating and allows you to choose from thousands of certified, licensed therapists anonymously (no worries about running into a neighbor at the appointment!). BetterHelp fees start at $40/week for unlimited sessions via your choice of chat, video, email or phone. Learn more about BetterHelp now >>
When is remarriage OK?
So many moms I know jump out of marriage and immediately start hunting for the next husband.
This is understandable. After all:
- You were likely used to being married, so that feels normal
- Society pressures you to be married. All kinds of social cultural messages that sanction marriage, not to mention tax breaks, cost of living and travel discounts for couples
That is not to say marriage is wrong — or wrong for you. It may be totally right!
How long should you date before getting married a second time?
There is no one answer for this question, but I offer you this:
One, are you really over your first divorce? Everyone is entitled to be a screaming hot mess for one year after divorce. Then, I urge you to learn to love your own company. Enjoy quiet time, travel, your children, your friends, your career all by yourself. Read my 41 things every woman should do alone at least once in her life.
Many women struggle for years with confidence, loneliness, getting over an ex, and finding and trusting a boyfriend again. That is part of the process. Maybe not for everyone, but it is completely normal.
Why not just try being single? If you have never been alone, or not been single for a very long time, it can be an important, if not thrilling experience.
Second marriage after 40
According to Pew Research Center, 57% of divorced people in the United States ages 35 to 44 were remarry.
Second marriage after 50
63% of divorced people in the United States ages 45 to 54 remarry, as do 57% of divorced people ages 55 and older.
But when is remarriage or second or third marriage right?
The answer is that if you're really committed to finding love, if you really want to make your current relationship work, you stay until you can't stay any more.
Maybe deep down you're terrified of love, and bolt when shit gets real. Maybe you cling to those glossy rom-com plotlines and friends' glittering relationship narratives on Facebook and jump ship when your own romantic story deviates from the meant-to-be-love script.
But maybe what you should do is dig in and scrape below expectations of shine. Maybe you ignore all the messages about how finding The One and things Meant to Be and create your own love story.
Or maybe you're older and wiser now. And maybe like me, when you go on a date with a really brilliant guy, and the walking date turns into the burger date, which turns into the dessert date, and you still want to know more — and even though lightning didn't hit your heart or pants when you saw him waiting for you on the sidewalk, you go out with him again. Because that is what adults do.
Yes, that is what is done by adults who have told stories about love-at-first sight and got their hearts busted up and whooped on and thrown into moving traffic. And then they get up again and write their own love stories.
Whether you pay a visit to your regular therapist, seek out a session with your pastor, priest or rabbi, or spend big money on a couple's retreat, remarriage counseling can be an important step in understanding your compatibility, ironing out relationship issues, and establishing boundaries and rules for
Does marriage counseling really work?
– When should you seek marriage counseling?
Finding your soulmate after marriage
I'm going to be 39 this year. Round that up, and I'm basically 40. Which is middle-aged.
I'm not going to pretend like I'm reveling in that, or even that I don't care. I'm none too thrilled about getting older, the least of which is that my crepeing under-eyes, sagging chin and increasingly profound laugh lines make selfie-taking a humbling chore. I can already see how it will be harder to be professionally relevant, it is harder to stay thin, and according to some older friends, very bad things happen to your genitals as the years press on.
But one that that comes with age, is that relationships are older. And those relationships, they are so, so dear. While traveling in Denmark, I was feeling blue, alone in a foreign country. I pinged my friend Kirsten, who I've known for 15 years. She's going through some real-life rough times (not like my first-world, boo-hoo I'm lonesome in my fabulous Copenhagen apartment “rough times”) and I asked if she could nab a plane ticket to join me for a few days.
“I can't this time, but wanna Skype?” she immediately replied.
“Yep! Now? Want to join me in some wine?
“It's 11:30 a.m. and I have a few conference calls ahead of me, but don't let that stop you,” she texted.
“Oh yeah — not everyone's time zone revolves around my own, perpetual 5 o'clock somewhere.”
We jumped on video chat and caught up (while I uncorked my bottle). We noted that not only are we both really into our careers, share politics, and have similar mommy issues, our periods are in synch! It didn't really matter what we talked about — we love each other, talk in short-hand thanks to so many years of friendship, and can be totally candid with one another in a way that is just not the same with newer friends. Time has created an intimacy that is otherwise impossible.
Apply this to romance.
Benefits of long-term marriage
For all my dating antics, and appreciation for short-term affairs and sometimes-lovers, those romantic relationships simply are not long-term marriages. I was with my husband eight years, married four, before we split up. That is a short marriage. Every once in a while I come across an email or little note that we left one another, and they seem as if they were written by other people — people who were lovers, rather than two people who lived through a whole lot together and knew each other in ways that cannot be articulated in words. Because we were. Ours was not a long-term marriage. Today, in the rare occurrence that we chat casually, the familiarity is deeper and more presumed — even if we are no longer romantically involved, we are bound by time. I have known him nearly 15 years, and there is a connection that is like those very old friends or the family that we are. That is precious.
In my future, I can imagine a life that is full of different lovers — some for an evening, others for a few years. That is a comfortable pattern for me, but it is limiting. In the rest of my life I seek out intense experiences that challenge myself. Adventures in travel and exercise, books and movies that challenge my intellect. But emotional adventures are perhaps the greatest of them all. Motherhood, possibly the most gripping, mind- and heart-expanding experience yet in my middle-aged life. I want to experience allI can in this world, and there is something in a long-term marriage that cannot be replicated in other experiences. Those years and decades of love and passion and tedium and tragedy and healing and adoration and resentment and resolve and acceptance and love and love that a good marriage has. That is an experience that I don't know. Not yet.
How long after divorce can you remarry?
All this self-analysis aside — when should you and can you remarry after divorce?
First, after a big breakup or divorce, take a full year to be a nice, steaming hot mess. I show you how here. Good news: You can date and get laid! But no serious relationships yet.
Then, take some time to heal your wounds. Maybe your ex cheated, and you need to sort through that. Perhaps you are struggling to find yourself financially and professionally, moving homes, and generally getting your act in order.
First thing—surround yourself with some great friends. Maybe these are wonderful old friends who share your new life vision, or you build new relationships with women and/or men who are also committed to positivity, and building a new life. Read: 5 friends every single mom needs, and where to find her!
Then, it is time to dip your toe in the water.
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Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, noted blogger, and bestselling author. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.