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Remarriage after divorce? What you should know about the divorce rates for second and third marriages

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Did your divorce story start with, “I knew he was the one!” ??

At my wedding, my mom stood up and gave a heartfelt 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 choose between the two men.

Ultimately, I made the right choice, but, well … the rest is history.

When is remarriage OK? How long after divorce can you remarry? 

So many moms I know jump out of marriage and immediately start hunting for the next husband.

A desire for remarriage 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 and 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!

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: How to make friends after divorce.

Then, it is time to dip your toe in the water. 

[Best dating apps and sites for finding a serious relationship]

Thinking about remarrying? Here’s what you should know:

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.

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.

Why wait for remarriage after divorce

I recently started a conversation about the desire to remarry (or, for many, get hitched for the first time) in my Facebook group, Millionaire Single Moms. There were 82 comments last time I checked, and all but a few said they had no interest in getting married. Most were happy dating, open to serious partnership (or were currently in one), but the rest found the idea of a marriage draining, a hindrance to their careers and enjoyment of motherhood, and generally cramped the freedom they've come to enjoy.

Plus, they said, what is the point? To wit:

Second marriage statistics

According to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, the remarriage rate in 2019 was approximately 25.1 remarriages for every 1,000 men and women who were eligible to remarry.

That same year, the median age at remarriage was 48 for men and 44 for women.

Are second marriages more successful? Remarriage statistics

If you're wondering if second marriages are more successful, the answer is no. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, remarried adults have a higher likelihood of divorce than those in their first marriage. Half of remarriages that ended in divorce ended within 10 years.

Research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that children of divorced parents were about twice as likely to experience divorce themselves. Divorce was most likely to be transmitted between generations if parents reported a low level of discord prior to the marriage ending.

A study published in the PLOS One journal found that the biggest risk for kids in single mother homes is not that she is single, but instability caused by different romantic partners (and their children) moving in and of the home. 

[Single mom statistics: Prepare to have your mind blown]

Also, as many women do after divorce, so many moms commenting in the group found their professional and financial groove, and were reluctant to share that success with a man inside of the institution of marriage. These women are no fools: In a study of 4,000 married couples, the University of Chicago found that once a woman started to earn more than her husband, divorce rates increased. Other supporting research: Single women are happier and healthier than married women, and women are far less happy in marriages than men. Single people have more friends, more community connections and are more politically involved.

Second marriage divorce rate

It has been widely reported that the divorce rate for single marriages is about 40-50%, second marriages 60-67%, and third marriages, 73-74%, though there is no legitimate reported data that backs up these statistics. 

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 after 40

According to the Pew Research Center, 57% of divorced people in the United States ages 35 to 44 remarry.

Second marriage after 50

63% of divorced people in the United States ages 45 to 54 remarry, as do 67% of divorced people ages 55-64 and 50% of people over 65.

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 anymore.

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.

Why post-divorce breakups hurt so damn bad

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.

More single mom statistics here

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 effects of online dating, social media and a general culture void of long-term 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.

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?

How to deal if you feel guilty for divorcing a nice guy

What are the odds of divorced couples getting back together and remarrying

Researchers at California State University in Sacramento interviewed 1,001 reunited couples around the world, and found that just 6% said they married, divorced and remarried the same person — and 72 percent of those who reunited stayed together, particularly if their separations occurred at a young age. The author, Nancy Kalish, Ph.D., published her findings in a book, Lost & Found Lovers: Facts and Fantasies of Rekindled Romances.

Here is what Reddit users say on the subject:

How to do second marriage without divorce

If you are ready to get married again after a divorce, I wish you all the best. I really do! Some quick advice:

1. Keep your own money, girl. 

Separate checking and savings accounts (though many couples choose to also share a joint account for shared expenses — not a bad idea). Keep saving and investing for your future — and never consider a man a financial plan!

2. Focus on your co-parenting.

If you share children with an ex, bring him into the conversation. If possible, have a meeting between your new partner and your child's other parent, and yourself. Express your desire to raise the children collectively, but recognize that the kids' parents will always be their mother and father (or two moms or two dads) first.

3. Get a prenuptial agreement

You can hire a lawyer, or create a prenup yourself through a service like RocketLawyer for a flat fee of $49. HelloPrenup also guides you through the prenup process and allows you to create your own documents for $599 per couple.

4. Seek remarriage counseling

Go for remarriage counseling. Just unpack all the logistical and emotional considerations of combining your lives, your families and your futures. Can't hurt. It may make this transition easier. And if you are afraid of what couples therapy digs up, then you 100% must go!

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.

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.

Not in counseling yet? Connect with a certified mental health professional through Read our review.

5. Ask these questions to ask before remarrying:

What are your goals in 2 years, 5 years, etc.?

What is your vision of married life?

Do you want children and how many?

How will household duties be divided?

How much debt do you have?

What is your credit score?

How to improve and protect your credit score— and get your credit report for free.

What are your values around money?

Talk to me about some of your savings goals?

Are fancy things important, or are you okay living frugally?

Where (geographically) do you want to live?

How do you envision retirement?

What makes you feel loved and supported (knowing these will change over time)?

(A seminal relationship books of all time: The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts.)

Can you walk me through the past few years of your life and provide more detail around how your circumstances or actions align with these dreams?

What setbacks have you overcome?

What are your values?

How important is reading to you?

What does it mean to you to be a good parent?

How do you co-parent? 31 tips for how to co-parent

How do you discipline (if at all)?

How do you define your role as a support to your pregnant spouse?

How do you plan to support me, should we agree to have more children? Emotionally, financially, physically, mentally?

What do you know about mental health? How would you handle things if I was struggling with mine and how do you handle things when you’re struggling with yours?

How do you feel about cosleeping with your child?

How do you want to spiritually nurture our child, especially since we were of different religious backgrounds?

How will we manage a child with special needs if that arises?

How do you picture work/home life balance after a child?

Will one of us stay home or will we use childcare?

How do you communicate when triggered? How do you deal with major stress?

Do you have a spiritual life? Are you religous?

How would we would make decisions regarding major life changes?

What issues from childhood are you still battling with?

What addictions run in your family and how have you dealt with it?

Do you plan to raise your children the way your parents raised you — or are you flexible and open to something different?

How important is exercise to you? How important is it for your children to exercise?

Do you believe in eating healthy?

Will you still love me if I’m fat?

How long have you been in your career? How are you performing?

Do you enjoy your career? Why or why not?

7 business ideas for moms

What do you think about cheating?

What are your thoughts on therapy?

What do you do to give back or volunteer?

5 tips for dating after divorce

Remarriage FAQs

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 Business 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 $65/week for unlimited messaging and weekly live sessions. Financial assistance is available. Read about my experience with BetterHelp.

Is it common for divorced couples to get back together?

Signs your husband or wife is about to leave you — and what to do to prepare

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.

What to watch out for re: relationship red flags

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 all I 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.

Do you give an engagement ring for a second marriage?

When is remarriage OK?

After a big breakup or divorce, take a full year to be a nice, steaming hot mess. Take some time to heal your wounds.

How long should you date before getting married a second time?

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.

Are second marriages more successful?

If you're wondering if second marriages are more successful, the answer is no. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, remarried adults have a higher likelihood of divorce than those in their first marriage. Half of remarriages that ended in divorce ended within 10 years.

What are the odds of divorced couples getting back together and remarrying?

Researchers at California State University in Sacramento interviewed 1,001 reunited couples around the world, and found that just 6% said they married, divorced and remarried the same person.

One Comment

Helpful info. Fortunate me I found your website accidentally, and I’m stunned why this accident didn’t happened in advance!
I bookmarked it.

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