So, you’re thinking about getting remarried? Consider the words of the Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde: “Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.”
When dealing with the challenges of being a woman in your forties, fifties or beyond, the experience of a failed marriage can leave you feeling beat up, discouraged, and hopeless and sometimes more like you’re at the end of your rope than the beginning of a new chapter. The idea of even dipping a toe into a new intimate relationship, much less getting remarried, may be the last thing on your mind but, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Divorce, even if it’s the best decision for you, in the long run, represents a loss that commands grieving. And that takes time. But like in most major life transitions, it’s important to remain patient with yourself and keep an open mind and heart. And if you’re lucky enough to find someone you connect with in a deep and meaningful way, maybe even consider another trip down the aisle.
Second marriage checklist
Despite thoughts like “Am I crazy to do this again?” crossing your mind (fueled by the divorce statistics for second marriages which are slightly worse than for first unions), a second one can offer an exciting opportunity for a new beginning. So, instead of letting fear stop you, navigate the unsettled feelings around the decision by taking the steps necessary to build a bond of trust, transparency, and respect.
Here are some tips to set the wheels of success in motion:
- Spit it out
There is absolutely nothing to be gained from keeping things bottled up. Open communication is essential in every relationship, but particularly when considering joining your life with another. Since you’re both a bit older this time around, there can be a lot of habits, thought patterns and tendencies that, although charming and endearing at first, might eventually become irritating and abrasive. If you feel something, say something. Do it in a kind and respectful way. If you keep things inside for fear of upsetting your partner, resentment could build, and you may end up expressing your frustration in a filter-less fit of anger. Air out any misgivings or upsets that develop as they present themselves so you can create a safe and loving environment of mutual love, respect and understanding.
- Handle the situation with care
Second marriages often involve the blending of families, which means introducing different sets of children to your partner and to each other. This can stir up a hornet’s nest of emotions and crossed wires that calls for enduring patience and care. Rushing things is not only ill-advised, it is a recipe for hurt feelings, resentment, and long-term damage to the family dynamic. That doesn’t mean you have to wait until the children are happy with your decision—they may never be, and that’s okay. But by handling the situation with care, you can minimize the disruption and lay a firm foundation for the future. So, regardless of the age of the children, when you’re on the threshold of blending families and their histories, the support of a family therapist can be an invaluable investment that pays huge dividends later.
- Do your homework
Each of us co-creates our relationships, and marriages are no exception. If you get divorced, it’s usually because of a result of dynamics and patterns established by both parties. So, if you are considering remarriage, ask yourself if you’ve done the work necessary to understand the role you played in the demise of your first one (not to revisit negative experiences or immerse in self-judgement, but to avoid making the same mistakes again). A 2019 article in BestLife magazine quoted New York-based marriage therapist Linda Charnes on the subject: “You have to resolve internal conflicts or they’re going to come out in a second or third marriage.”
- Make a plan
Have open discussions with your partner about the kind of relationship you want to have, covering important topics such as your relative value systems, money management philosophies, holiday traditions, views on estate planning, health directives and retirement hopes, even your feelings on sharing a surname. No subject should be off-limits. If you avoid these conversations early on, you may be setting yourself up for much more uncomfortable talks down the road and maybe even some financial challenges to consider.
Get busy living
While it’s wise to be aware of the potential pitfalls of getting married a second time, don’t let them get in the way of embracing a new chapter of living. Finding love later in life can be a welcome surprise that nurtures and fulfils you in ways you never thought possible. And, according to psychiatrist and author of The Intelligent Divorce book series Mark Banschick, M.D., “In some ways, it’s easier the second time around because you are more mature and, hopefully, you’ve learned from your mistakes.”
If you want to take the plunge, do the prep. Then let wisdom and experience bolster you as you embrace the new adventure with your eyes and heart wide open.