In planning a second marriage there is a great deal to think about. Even planning the wedding can bring up issues divided along gender lines. One recent study showed that the division of labor in making wedding preparations was largely the same for the second wedding as it was for the first, even though the second weddings tended to be smaller and less complicated.(1)
Steven M Cohn, PhD, LMFT
The Portland Couples Counseling Center
1940 NE Broadway
Portland, Oregon 97232
Before you even get to the stage of planning a second marriage, you must consider whether marriage is right for you a second time around. Depending on how your first marriage experience was, you may have unrealistic expectations for your second marriage. You may think that you have exorcised all of your demons and your second marriage will be gloriously problem-free.
Similarly, you may think that because you love your prospective second spouse more than you loved the first, you will be able to overcome any issues that might arise. Take a good look at your motivations and expectations before you take the plunge.
Of note is the fact that experience doesn’t seem to play a role in second marriage success. Put another way, we don’t seem to learn how to avoid divorce simply by having been married before. In fact, second marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages (about 70% vs. about 50%). One of the biggest concerns in planning a second marriage is money. Things like providing for a step-child’s college (3), estate planning, losing alimony, and spending social security benefits or life insurance pay-outs from a first spouse can cause issues in a second marriage.
Following a divorce or the death of a first spouse, people often find themselves in an extremely vulnerable state while planning a second marriage. Some of the factors that can cause widowed persons not to want to remarry, for example, are worries about the future of any children from the first marriage, not finding a spouse who lives up to the memories of a first spouse who has died, and loyalty to the first spouse.(2)
Experts advise that you take it slow and allow your relationship to develop over the course of time rather than rushing into anything. Think of it in terms of how you react when you are overly hungry. If you haven’t eaten for a long time, you are likely to eat anything that is offered. But when you’re talking about marriage, you will want to take the time to consider if that “meal” is really what you want, or if it only looks good because you are lonely, stressed, and “hungry.” A Relationship Specialist may help you to see if you are acting out of hunger or out of true love.
(1)Humble, Aine M. The Second Time ‘Round: Gender Construction in Remarried Couples’ Wedding Planning. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 50(4): 260-281, May, 2009.
(2)Ahmady, K.; Fathi Ashtiani, A.; S-Mahmoud Mirzamani; Reza Arabnia, A. The Effect of Remarriage on Mental Health of Widows of the Killed-in-Action versus Other Widows. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 48(1): 141-154. 2007.
(3)Killian, Timothy S. and Ferrell, Jana. Perceived Obligations of Remarried Households to Provide Financial Assistance to Younger Family Members. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships 3(4): 23 – 43. 2006.
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