That second trip down the aisle can be very exciting because standing before the altar (again) brings with it all the hope of a new beginning and a fresh start, but remarriage challenges both spouses even in the best of situations because few are prepare for the challenges ahead. This may explain, in part, why the remarriage divorce rate is at least 60 percent.
Alyssa Johnson, a remarriage consultant who specializes in working with divorced families planning to remarry, offers seven considerations couples should discuss. These challenges include:
- The length of the courtship. Remarriage research suggests that the longer the dating period, the more successful the marriage. Most remarriages happen faster than first marriages. Typically, the rule of thumb for first marriages is to date at least a year. Remarrying couples face more work because normally there are more people involved. Dating longer gives both partners the chance to get to know one another, help any children adjust, and gets the partners past that early time in relationships when people blindly overlook any faults in the other person.
- Marrying too soon after a divorce. Research shows that remarriages have the highest success rate when the individuals in the couple wait at least two years after their divorce to remarry. Divorce creates a field of emotional, mental and financial considerations that must addressed before the partners can come together, let alone combine families.
- Step relationships can be like a Rubik’s cube. A remarriage makes a big change for children by bringing a new person into their lives whether they want him or her or not. Their reaction to this person has a major impact on a marriage. Stepparents and stepchildren must get to know each other. It is in the best interest of everyone to spend time together to get a feel for what his or her new life promises.
- The kids must be ready. Most researchers agree that children are typically one step behind their parents in the grief associated with their parent’s divorce or the death of a parent. About the time a parent tells the children that he or she plans to remarry, the children are finally becoming comfortable with single-parent life. Divorce or death of a parent is traumatic for children.
- Mourning the past. A remarriage by definition means a loss happened, whether by divorce or death. Ghosts from the past can constantly haunt a new marriage and leave it vulnerable. Moreover, a spouse who still hurts won’t be able to make partner choices as effectively as one who has healed.
- Step-families are not nuclear families. Second families have completely different dynamics, and couples that are not prepared for this before the wedding set themselves up for failure. Spouses don’t get time to learn as they go because those dynamics will be in full force from the beginning.
- Expectations of the marriage. Expectations are important in first marriages, but doubly so with a remarriage. One of the best ways at getting at this information is to talk about how these things were done, or not done, in a previous marriage and how a partner feels about it.