Second marriage problems

10 Rules for a Successful Second Marriage

Respect, positive communication, and having a good sense of humor go a long way in making your second marriage last a lifetime.

Respect, positive communication, and having a good sense of humor go a long way in making your second marriage last a lifetime.

Respect, positive communication, and having a good sense of humor go a long way in making your second marriage last a lifetime.

While many couples see remarriage as a second chance at happiness, the statistics tell a different story. According to available Census data, the divorce rate for second marriages in the United States is over 60% compared to around 50% for first marriages.

Why are second marriages more likely to fail?

One explanation is the formation of blended families, which can cause loyalty issues with stepchildren and rivalries between co-parents, but there are many other difficulties and stresses that come with remarrying. A foundation of trust and intimacy is vital to beating the odds.

Everyone Has Baggage

When people get remarried, they often bring unhealthy relationship patterns and trust issues from their first marriage that can sabotage the new relationship. Sometimes this baggage can cause couples to rush into tying the knot without truly getting to know each other.

For instance, if you were betrayed by your former spouse, you may be overly suspicious and lack confidence in your new partner.

Here’s how Kayla put it: “We’ve only been married for a few years,” she paused, “But I’m already questioning Jake when he’s late from work – full of mistrust and accusations.” It became clear that Kayla was having difficulty trusting Jake due to her ex-husband’s affair.

Be Vulnerable

It makes sense that a fear of vulnerability can be a real dilemma in a second marriage, yet not expressing our innermost feelings, thoughts, and wishes can actually put a relationship more at risk because we lose out on the trust and intimacy that vulnerability offers.

Being vulnerable with your partner can make you feel exposed, but it is the most important ingredient of a trusting, intimate relationship. In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brené Brown defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” Given this definition, the act of loving someone and allowing them to love you may be the ultimate risk. Dr. John Gottman writes in What Makes Love Last? that “life tends to go better for those who have the courage to trust others.”

Create Realistic Expectations

Accept that there are inevitable ups and downs in remarried life. New love is a wonderful feeling, but it doesn’t make up for the pain of divorce, nor does it automatically restore the family to its former status. According to stepfamily expert Maggie Scarf, “On the contrary, remarriage will present [couples] with a number of unanticipated design issues such as loyalty binds, the breakdown of parenting tasks, and the uniting of disparate family cultures.

A key issue for remarried couples to address is interpersonal communication. This is especially true when it comes to finances, how to discipline children and stepchildren, personality conflicts in the newly created family, and rivalries between family members.

Below are ten powerful rules I’ve learned from working with remarried couples and in my own second marriage.

1. Build a culture of appreciation, respect, and tolerance
Author Kyle Benson says, “When you can, express what you cherish about your partner. The idea is to catch your partner doing something right and say ‘thanks for doing that. I noticed you unloaded the dishwasher and I really appreciate it.’”

2. Practice being vulnerable in small steps
Build confidence in being more open with your partner. Discussing minor issues like schedules and meals is a great place to start before tackling bigger matters like disciplining kids or managing finances.

3. Create time and a relaxed atmosphere to interact with your partner
Ask for what you need in an assertive, non-aggressive way and be willing to see each other’s side of the story. In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. Gottman encourages us to respond to our partner’s “bids” for attention, affection, and support. This can be something minor like “please make the salad” or as significant as accompanying our partner on a trip to visit an ill parent.

4. Discuss expectations to avoid misunderstandings
Take a risk and deal with hurt feelings, especially if it’s an important issue, rather than stonewalling and shutting down. In Marriage Rules, Harriet Lerner posits that a good fight can clear the air. She writes that “it’s nice to know we can survive conflict and even learn from it.”

5. Prepare for conflict
Understand that conflict doesn’t mean the end of your marriage. Dr. John Gottman’s research on thousands of couples discovered that conflict is inevitable in all relationships and 69% of problems in a marriage go unresolved. Despite this, conflict can be managed successfully and the marriage can thrive! Stephanie Manes, LCSW advises us to take a short break if we feel overwhelmed or flooded as a way to restore positive communication with our partner.

6. Communicate effectively
Accept responsibility for your role in a disagreement. Listen to your partner’s requests and ask for clarification on issues that are unclear. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements that tend to come across as blameful, such as “I felt hurt when you purchased the car without discussing it with me.”

7. Embrace your role as a stepparent
The role of the stepparent is one of an adult friend, mentor, and supporter rather than a disciplinarian. Learn new strategies and share your ideas with your partner. There’s no such thing as instant love. When stepparents feel unappreciated or disrespected by their stepchildren, they will have difficulty bonding with them – causing stress for the stepfamily.

8. Attune to your partner
Eye contact and body posture demonstrate your intention to listen and compromise. Practicing what Dr. John Gottman calls emotional attunement while relaxing together can help you stay connected despite your differences. This means “turning toward” one another and showing empathy rather than “turning away.” His 40 years of research showed that happy couples have a 5:1 ratio of interactions during conflict – meaning for every negative interaction, you need five positive ones.

9. Establish an open-ended dialogue
Don’t make threats or issue ultimatums. Avoid saying things you’ll regret later. Money is one of the most common things remarried couples argue about and full disclosure about finances is key to the success of the remarriage so resentment doesn’t build up.

10. Practice forgiveness
Accept that we all have flaws. Forgiveness isn’t the same as condoning the hurt done to you, but it will allow you to move on and remember you are on the same team.

The best way to beat the odds and make your second marriage succeed is to create a culture of appreciation and respect in your home. It’s also crucial to risk being vulnerable with your partner so that you can build trust and intimacy. Determination, respect, acceptance, positive communication, and having a good sense of humor can go a long way in making sure your second marriage lasts a lifetime.

The Gottman Relationship Adviser, the world’s first complete relationship wellness tool for couples, takes the guesswork out of improving your relationship. Measure your relationship health with a research-based self-assessment, then receive a tailored digital relationship plan proven to heal and strengthen your connection.

For an in-depth analysis of your relationship health check out the Gottman Assessment, a virtual relationship evaluation tool for couples.

Check out our free relationship quiz for couples.

If want to build a deeply meaningful second marriage full of trust and intimacy, then subscribe below to receive upcoming blog posts directly to your inbox:

Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

Terry Gaspard MSW, LICSW is a licensed therapist and author. ="wpforms-"]

6 Challenges of Second Marriages and how to overcome them

In This Article

Getting married for the second time takes courage as there is always that risk of a second marriage turning out to be like your first one.

Getting married again does not mean that you are not jaded- you’re likely to still be skeptical and afraid but willing to overcome that for the person you love. So now you have bravely embarked on a second marriage with hope and determination.

Certainly, there is an expectation that things will go better this time than they did last time around.

Although statistics show that more second marriage divorce rate is higher than first marriages, you must not have to worry about the second marriage success rates.

After looking at unhealthy patterns in your previous marriage, you will enter this marriage more prepared.

This article will look at 6-second marriage challenges or risks of a second marriage and how best to overcome them.

Also watch:

1. The challenge of putting the past to rest

The secrets to a successful second marriage are whether you are really and truly over your previous marriage.

We all know the dangers of ‘rebound’ relationships, but perhaps several months or years had already passed since your last marriage and you thought you were high and dry.

Actually, time alone is not always enough to put the past to rest, if you have not thoroughly dealt with whatever happened. It’s like stuffing all the toxic stuff into your emotional basement and hoping it will never surface again – but it does, and usually at the most inconvenient and stressful times.

Whether you experienced the death of a spouse or the death of a marriage, it is essential to grieve your losses before you can reach a place of acceptance.

Forgiveness is a great help in putting the past to rest; forgive yourself, your former spouse, and anyone else involved.

This does not mean you excuse or approve of what happened, but rather that you have decided to lay down your past and no longer allow yourself to be controlled by it.

When you are able to do this you can focus fully on making a success of your relationship with your new spouse.

2. The challenge of learning your lessons

No mistake or bad experience is ever wasted if you can learn from it. In fact, what you have learned from your first marriage can be some of the most valuable lessons which will make or break your second marriage.

So you need to take a long hard look at what did and didn’t work the first time around. This insight can be helpful in identifying what makes a marriage successful.

Be honest about the part you played – there are always two sides to every story. Are there some ways you behave that are difficult to live with, and how are you going to change those behaviors or habits?

Be very clear about what it is that you could not tolerate about your former spouse, and then avoid getting involved with someone who displays those same traits.

If you take up the challenge of learning your lessons well from your first marriage you could have a very good head start at making the success of your second marriage.

3. The challenge of children

Another common second marriage problem without a doubt, bringing children into a second marriage. Various scenarios include either you or your new partner having children while the other doesn’t, or you both have children.

Whatever your particular variation is, you need to think through all the implications very carefully. Bear in mind that it usually takes a while for children to accept their new parent (or stepparent).

Some studies have shown that it can take around five years or more for two families to truly ‘blend’. Think about all the schedules that will need to be juggled around visitation times with the other parents involved and holiday arrangements.

An area that often causes a lot of friction is parenting styles and how to discipline children.

This is where you and your spouse really need to be on the same page, especially when the biological parent is absent.

Some people may think that it is a challenge to raise children in your second marriage but it is not so. You can surely experience that children are a blessing and create a special blended family instead.

Also, if you are contemplating a remarriage and “step-children causing marriage problems” is a concern looming large on your mind, you need to think things through, confide in your partner about your cause of worry and even seek support from a family therapist for formal intervention.

4. The challenge of ex-spouses

Second marriages usually involve one or two ex-spouses, unless you have been widowed. Although most divorced couples manage to be civil and decent with each other, this is not always the case in remarriage after divorce.

If there are children involved, remember that your new spouse will be obliged to have contact with his or her ex-spouse to arrange visitation, pickups and other practical matters.

This brings us back to the first and second challenges – putting the past to rest and learning your lessons.

If these two areas have been handled well, then you should be able to proceed smoothly with your second marriage.

If not, you may be faced with codependent tendencies, especially where there had been abuse or addictions, and where there is a manipulative or pathological ex.

Any form of over-involvement with an ex-spouse will cause problems in a second marriage.

Also, being open and honest about the state of the previous divorce is important, as well as being on the same page with your current partner about involvement of the ex partner, whether there are children involved or not.

If you are getting married again after divorce and are struggling with this don’t hesitate to get help from a counselor or therapist.

5. The challenge of finances

Money, money, money! We just can’t get away from it… and it is a well-known fact that finances are one of the biggest struggles married couples face, regardless of whether it is a first or second marriage.

In reality, money has a lot to do with trust.

When a couple gets married they need to decide whether they will combine their incomes or keep separate accounts.

When entering a second marriage, most people have already faced severe financial losses and setbacks during the divorce, making them even more financially vulnerable than in their first marriage.

Another essential rule for a successful second marriage or the best way to handle the challenge of finances is to be completely open and transparent with each other, at the onset of getting married after a divorce.

After all, if you want to make this marriage last you will have to learn to trust each other and be honest about any expenses or debts you may have.

6. The challenge of commitment

The fact that this is your second marriage later in life, may consciously or subconsciously affect your view of divorce – in the sense that you have been through it once already, so you are more open to the possibility of a second one.

Although nobody enters a second marriage with this in mind, there is always the possibility if things get rough.

Some studies have shown that this ‘normalization’ of divorce can be one of the main reasons why second marriages fail.

Instead of trying to figure out how long do second marriages last, the way to overcome this challenge is to be fully committed to your second marriage.

You may have been divorced once before but you can choose to view that as the first and last time. Remember, successful second marriages are not an exception.

Now you are committed for life to your second spouse, and you can both put your wholehearted effort into making your marriage relationship as beautiful and special as can be and resolving second marriage problems while maintaining a unified front.

How not to ruin a second marriage


Man and womanRelationship crisis

Main ideas

  • The future of a new family is determined neither by the "length of time" of partners in the first marriage, nor by the presence of children.
  • The chances of success depend on the lessons that everyone can learn from their past mistakes.
  • The union will be stronger if the relationship is constantly developed... respecting your personal space.

The second marriage is more likely to succeed than the first, we believe. After all, it can take into account previous experience and not repeat those stupid things that we regret when there is nothing to fix. In addition, over the years we become more experienced, more tolerant ... Alas, statistics do not confirm these assumptions. According to a survey conducted by the Demoscope Research Center in 2004, second marriages break up in the same way as the first - in almost half of the cases. Does experience teach us nothing? Or do those who get divorced belong to a special breed of people not made for marriage? nine0003

Even if most couples head for a silver wedding and many will never face such a problem, you still want to understand: why is it harder the second time? According to Jungian analyst Stanislav Raevsky, “in a second marriage, partners face problems that did not exist before. In addition, after the first divorce, it is easier to decide on a second one: having terminated the union that did not satisfy him, the person is unconsciously ready, if necessary, to do it again. nine0003

Reminders of the past

Divorce-related experiences do not pass without leaving traces, leaving the bitterness of defeat in the soul. Those who enter into a new marriage hope that this time everything will turn out well. And they, having healed the wounds, will correct the past. “But it is the past that prevents the serenity of the second marriage,” says psychotherapist Elena Lopukhina. Much reminds me of my previous relationship, of my first partner: he lived in this house, bought this furniture, here are his gifts, mutual friends remained…”

Another stumbling block may be... sex life. “Experience is important in intimate relationships, especially for a woman – thanks to it, we learn to trust our feelings and accept a partner,” says sexologist Sergei Agarkov. “But at the same time, long-term sexual relationships with one partner form a certain pattern of sexual behavior, and unconscious expectations undoubtedly affect intimacy in the next union.

Ghosts of the past - ex-husbands and wives - often accompany in a new marriage. Kirill, a father of three children who was widowed twelve years ago and remarried very quickly, confirms: “It is impossible to forget the person with whom you lived for fifteen years. And I know that Nina, my current girlfriend, thinks about it, in her imagination constantly comparing what I am with her and what I was with my first wife. I don’t compare anything, it’s just that some memories pop up in my memory, scenes from the past…”

When children do not accept a stepfather or stepmother

Children can interfere with the well-being of a second marriage, acting as “saboteurs”. A child, traumatized by the separation of his parents, rebels against the stepfather or stepmother who has appeared in the house, sets the father against the mother (or vice versa) in order to arouse sympathy. At the beginning of a new family life - this is a particularly difficult stage - adults will need the utmost sensitivity and diplomacy.

“Out of jealousy, children may deliberately create problems for their parents' new partners, hoping in this way to “stick together” the former family,” explains Elena Lopukhina. The life of a new family is also complicated by the fact that in Russian, as in many others, there are no special words for addressing a stepfather or stepmother. In addition, adults' ideas about the duties of a new family member in relation to a child can be very different. nine0003

Does past experience teach?

And yet, many hope, remarriage has an advantage: after all, we approach the choice of a second partner more judiciously. Alas, not always. Often we are pushed towards each other by a vague irrational feeling. So often we choose for the second time in a partner a “copy” of that parent from whom we have not managed to psychologically separate. No, we are not looking for external similarities, but unconsciously we are guided by the similarity of the psychological image.

“Sometimes we change life companions — a serious and strict one for a cheerful and witty, subtle intellectual for an ingenuous bodybuilder,” says Elena Lopukhina, “however, this is only an illusion of global changes, because in no case do we want to change the most important thing - our way of life and attitudes towards certain situations.

Working on mistakes

So, if we don’t do some work on ourselves, we blame our partner or circumstances, we don’t understand where our “personal contribution” is to the split of the first marriage, then it is likely that the well-trodden rut will again lead to the collapse of the relationship. nine0003

If in new marital conflicts - and they are inevitable - to behave "as before", this will lead the relationship with each subsequent partner to an unsolvable impasse.

“The inner work of finding out the causes of failure in a first marriage—and it is necessary in order to really end a previous relationship—is very often not done,” says clinical psychologist Jean-Georges Lemaire. - We think that the other is to blame for everything, and it will be enough for us to replace the “defective part”. But we are wrong." nine0003

“After a divorce, it is important to give yourself time to think, to live alone, to analyze mistakes,” agrees Stanislav Raevsky. “Otherwise, hurrying up with a new union, we will again, with another partner, win back the relationship that did not work out in the previous pair.

Avoid 4 traps

1. Reluctance to invest in relationships. "Burned with milk," some try to minimize their contribution to the relationship - both emotional and material. “Each keeps his good to himself, and then both are surprised that nothing comes out,” says family therapist Robert Neburger. “It’s best to avoid a bookkeeping approach to marriage where partners keep a close eye on how everyone contributes to the pot.” nine0003

2. No new plans. “I have often seen how repeated unions broke up, as soon as the persecution by the ex-spouse stopped,” continues Robert Neburger. “The partners acted as a united front in this confrontation, and having lost the meaning of the struggle, they did not know what to do with their freedom.” It is very important to find your own meanings and goals for a new union.

3. The inertia of others. People around seem to continue to consider the former spouse as legitimate and, for example, ask out of habit: “What do you hear from your wife?” New partners need to work hard to be perceived as a couple. nine0003

4. Too active presence of “formers”. The divorced spouse remains on very good terms with his ex(es). It is worth the slightest problem, he (she) is right there. It’s good if people part amicably, but it’s important that the new couple has their own space, in which no one should interfere. Friendship between exes is possible, but not too close.

Preserve your personal space

There are no criteria that would allow us to predict the future of a second marriage: neither the duration of the previous union, nor how the divorce went, nor the age of the partners, nor even the number of their children determine it. More importantly, what lessons they learned from past experience. The secret of success, according to demographer Sergei Zakharov, lies in one single word: “meaning” is what partners give to their union. nine0003

Alla, a bright 50-year-old woman, understood this from her own experience. With their first husband, they made one mistake after another, and ten years later the marriage broke up. It is time for Alla to realize her mistakes. “You should never humiliate anyone. When I found out that he had an affair at work, I began to blame him for all mortal sins and turned his life into a nightmare. And now, after a while, I understand that there was no terrible drama in this.

Her second husband is the opposite of the first. “A strong-willed, powerful person, he always clearly knows what he wants. I am at peace with him. In addition, he is a little jealous, while with my first husband it always seemed to me that I was only “one of many”. Perhaps such a contrast is the key to success? Not at all necessary. Alla admits that she would be capable of the same mistakes even now. But her goal is to preserve the union, and the first rule is to protect her personal sphere. “I shared everything in the world with Pavel, but now I understand that it’s not worth talking about some things, everyone should have their own reserved garden.” nine0003

Rule two: never let loose, take care of how you look, don't stop the subtle play of seduction. And the third commandment: to understand another person, take into account his characteristics and accept them. “My husband is a pessimist by nature, and I try, on the contrary, to take a positive approach to life.” Thanks to such vigilance, Alla can now enjoy family happiness gained in her second marriage.

Can we do without a stamp?

According to the Institute for Comparative Social Research (CESSI), today 23% of women and about 43% of men create a new family after a divorce. But they register a re-union less and less. According to the polls of the Public Opinion Foundation, more than 60% of Russians do not see the difference between official and civil marriage. nine0003

“We are less and less inclined to include the state in our personal relationships,” comments Alexander Sinelnikov, a sociologist. “Only a quarter of those who are divorced decide to legalize their marriage again.” “We are moving towards the Swedish model of building a family - when partners do not register relationships even if they have a child,” says demographer Sergei Zakharov. In this way, at least in a symbolic sense, we interrupt family history, depriving our children of their past, their roots.

In Russia, the average age of first marriage is 23 years. Today, marriages break up (on average) after five years. Thus, there are more and more young (divorced) people who are looking for a new partner. The question is whether they want to enter into a new legal marriage or whether they prefer an open relationship. However, with or without a stamp in the passport, partners in the new union will have to deal with the same (internal) issues. nine0003

Text: Natalia Gridneva, Nadezhda Vasilevskaya Photo Source: Getty Images

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Second marriage: features, types, main mistakes


Features of the second marriage: Pixabay

The marriage of the heroes of the film "Yours, Mine and Ours" by Frank and Helen almost turned into a collapse. All because the children from their first marriages could not find a common language. Similar situations often arise with repeated unions. What other pitfalls does a second marriage have, media psychologist Mikhail Labkovsky said. nine0008

Peculiarities and types of remarriage

Giving marriage vows during the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom dream of a happy life together. However, such dreams are increasingly at odds with reality, in which the number of divorces is skyrocketing. Fortunately, breaking up a relationship does not put an end to possible happiness and does not prevent people from re-entering a new alliance.

What is a second marriage? In modern science, there is no clear definition of a second marriage. Under this term, the candidate of psychological sciences and the author of the book "Psychology of Family Crises" Natalya Olifirovich means a family union of people who were previously married. A remarriage, according to psychotherapist Stanislav Kratochvil, can also be called a union in which one of the partners is single, and the second has already been married. nine0003 Types and characteristics of second marriages: Pexels

What types of second marriages are there? There is no strict classification of repeated family unions in psychology. Psychologist and personal trainer Pavel Rakov distinguishes three types of second marriages:

  • Marriage is between partners, one of whom has not yet been married.
  • One or both partners entering into a marriage union are widowed.
  • Both partners are divorced and entering into a second marriage.

Such family unions include the reunion of divorced spouses, who, after a while, regretted breaking up the relationship. nine0003

Psychotherapist and author of How to Build Yourself and Your Family, Virginia Satir, disagrees with this division. In her opinion, when classifying remarriages, one important criterion cannot be ignored - the presence of children. Based on this, several types of marriage unions can be distinguished:

  • those where a woman with children marries a single man;
  • where a divorced man with children marries an unmarried woman;
  • marriages between partners who have children from previous marriages; nine0012
  • marriage of two partners who do not have children from previous unions;
  • families with children from a new marriage and children from previous ones.

Repeated family unions can also be classified according to age:

  • marriages between peers or people with a small difference in age;
  • unequal marriages (one of the partners is much older than the other).

What are the characteristics of second marriages? The main feature of remarriages can be considered the pragmatism of partners. Entering into a new relationship, a man and a woman are not looking for either love to the grave, or cinematic romance. In addition, they more rationally assess the situation and understand their own desires and needs much better, therefore they approach the choice of a partner more carefully and soberly. nine0003 Features of the second marriage: Pexels

Common mistakes of the second marriage and ways to avoid them

It would seem that having gained experience in previous relationships, the spouses should save the second marriage for many years. However, according to the candidate of psychological sciences Tatyana Argentova, about half of remarriages end in divorce.

Why is this happening? What mistakes do people make when entering a second marriage? The most frequent misses in remarriages are:

  • Hasty marriage. It takes a person at least a year to get used to the end of a relationship and get rid of the internal attachment to a former partner. Some people do not withstand such a long pause and enter into a new marriage within a few months after the divorce. As a result, the feelings associated with separation have a significant impact on the new family.
  • Attempts to compete with children. When entering into marriage, find out in advance the life priorities of a partner. If there are children from a previous union among them, put up with it and try to find a common language with them. In no case do not throw tantrums and do not try to manipulate. Phrases of the format “Either I, or your children” will irritate the spouse, and later may cause another divorce. nine0012
  • Jealousy of previous relationships. In remarriage, there is always a threat of comparison with the previous partner. In some cases, this prevents the less experienced spouse from showing their abilities or expressing their needs to the other half.
Features of the second marriage: Pexels
  • Lack of common interests and joint plans. When starting new relationships and getting married, people try to please their beloved as much as possible. For example, they go fishing with their spouse or listen to gossip for hours about old friends of the wife, although they hate this activity. Over time, making such sacrifices becomes more and more difficult. As a result, a conflict will arise that will push the soulmate away. nine0012
  • Role uncertainty and unwillingness to invest in relationships. Under the influence of negative experiences, some people do not show activity in a new family. They go with the flow without making any effort and without trying to build a strong relationship with a partner. This often leads to deterioration of relations and further divorce.
  • An established pattern of sexual behavior. The first marriage leaves not only the memory of scandals or pleasant moments, but also certain habits in bed. Entering into a new relationship, people subconsciously begin to compare a new sexual partner with the previous one and place certain expectations on him. This can spoil both intimacy itself and the marriage union as a whole. nine0012

How to avoid mistakes in remarriage and create a strong family? The famous psychologist Mikhail Labkovsky is sure that the second marriage has every chance of becoming stronger than the first. The main thing is not to try to change the past and accept the fact that the partner already had a family. Be wise, take your time and do not violate the personal boundaries of the second half.

Features of the second marriage: Pexels

The second marriage is not a relationship with a clean face, but the union of two people with bad or good experience in family life. Entering into such an alliance, it is important to eliminate the mistakes made in the past, build a dialogue with a new spouse and work on relationships.

Learn more