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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Starting Over


Term Definition Starting Over - once more to the altar.
Application in Divorce Most people who divorce eventually marry again. About 85 percent of the men and 75 percent of the women remarry within three years of a divorce. The popular wisdom holds that second marriages have a higher success rate than because the veterans of a failed marriage have learned from their mistakes and are "older and wiser." Like most conventional wisdom, the conventional wisdom is wrong. About 60 percent of all second marriages end on the rocks.

Hope springs eternal, however, and the reward of divorce suffering is experience, but the failure of second marriages is often related the debris floating in the wake of the first.

Rebounding from the pain and suffering of the first marriage, many divorced people leap into a second, but they do not understand what went wrong the first time. "Going in a second marriage without realizing why the first failed is like NASA building a new rocket before finding out why the last one exploded," one observer said.

Instead of honest soul searching, many divorced people become convinced that at end of a quest for a successful partner is a Mr. Right or Mrs. Wonderful. In short, the right partner. Alas, there is no perfect partner -- only flawed mortals (and in this case, many of them battle-damaged veterans of first failed marriages). In this routine, the former spouse (now the villain) becomes the basis of comparison to the new love (who is everything that the villain was not). All the while, the one spouse focuses on the what the villain did wrong (or did not do right), while overlooking his or her own negative contributions to the marriage that failed.

"Sadly," according to Dawn Berry Bradley, the author of The Divorce Recovery Sourcebook, "with each remarriage, the likelihood of another divorce increases; the risk is higher among those who marry less than two years after the previous divorce." Bradley quotes Abigail Trafford, who writes, "Successful remarriages are built on successful psychological divorces."

Second (and subsequent) marriages bring with them the excess baggage of the first (or previous) marriages. Second marriages mean people are most likely finding partners in a pool of people who are scarred veterans of first failed marriages. That means, stepchildren and step relationships. It means pinched finances. In short, it means a steeper climb than a first marriage that at the least begins on a level field. And, as has been observed, once a person has been through a failed marriage and divorce, he or she knows that however painful a breakup is, it is survivable. "People in a second marriage are less willing to forgive and forget their spouses little imperfections yet they are more willing to call it quits because they have been through divorce before. But at no point in time do they ever stop and look at themselves and the part they played in the failure of the first marriage -- they just move on in their quest for Mr. or Mrs. Right instead of trying to improve their current relationship."

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