Second Marriage Success

Your Quick Guide to Relationship Success
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Your Quick Guide to Relationship Success
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Although no one can absolutely guarantee second marriage success, here is what many experts identify as keys to a happy relationship, be it your first, your second, or your tenth.

Steven M Cohn, PhD, LMFT
The Portland Couples Counseling Center
1940 NE Broadway
Portland, Oregon  97232

Statistics have been bandied about for years, saying that as many as 50% of first marriages end in divorce. The estimates for subsequent marriage failure are even higher, in some studies approaching 75%. However, research from the University of Pennsylvania suggests that the risk of divorce actually peaked in 1979 and has begun to level out, if not to fall.(1) This is somewhat encouraging, but the simple fact remains that second marital relationship happiness is not at all assured. What can you do to increase your chances of marital happiness the second time around?

Married couple

One of the biggest keys to second marriage success is forgiveness.(2) If you have been married before, you likely know that conflict is just about inevitable in a marriage. It therefore seems intuitive that learning how to recover from a conflict would be very important in keeping a relationship whole. Even if you cannot forget whatever it was your spouse did that hurt you, forgiving him or her would be well-advised if your goal is to find second marriage success.

Another important factor in second marriage success is the division of household labor. A study published in the Journal of Family and Economic Issues found that when the wife spends more time doing housework, particularly when coupled with the husband spending more time at work outside of the home, the probability of divorce is increased.(3) Again, perhaps this is intuitive, given that spending more time on work results in less time available for being together.

By contrast, however, a study from Pennsylvania State University demonstrates that, contrary to popular belief, having the wife work outside the home actually increases marital stability.(4) Perhaps these seemingly contradictory findings can be easily explained. It would stand to reason that if the wife and the husband are working similar hours, their time is not any more infringed upon by both of them working than by the husband alone leaving the home daily for work. And the additional income can have a positive effect on second marriage success. After all, studies have shown that people who have a high level of financial satisfaction are less likely to have even thought about divorce.(5)

Other factors that have been found important to marital satisfaction and success include good communication skills, attitude (i.e. deciding that divorce is not an option), common interests, similar expectations, high self-esteem and the closeness in ages of the two partners.(6)

If you are looking for ways to enhance your chances of second marriage success, you may want to consult a Relationship Specialist. He or she may be able to help you develop the success factors mentioned above.


(1)Stevenson, Betsey and Justin Wolfers (2007), Trends in Marital Stability, Unpublished manuscript, University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved August 11, 2009 from

(2)Fincham, FD; Stanley, SM; and Beach, SRH. Transformative Processes in Marriage: An Analysis of Emerging Trends. Journal of Marriage and Family 69(2): 275-292, 2007.

(3)Weagley, Robert O.; Chan, Min-Lee; and Yan, Jiahui. Married Couples' Time Allocation Decisions and Marital Stability. Journal of Family and Economic Issues 28(3): 507-525, September, 2007.

(4)Schoen, Robert; Rogers, Stacy J; and Amato, Paul R. Wives' Employment and Spouses' Marital Happiness. Journal of Family Issues 27(4): 506-528, 2006.

(5)Grable, John E.; Britt, Sonya; and Cantrell, Joyce. An Exploratory Study of the Role Financial Satisfaction has on the Thought of Subsequent Divorce. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal 36(2): 130-150, 2007.


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Steven M Cohn, PhD is pleased to have been featured on Oregon Live "Why Oregon's Latest Divorce Statistics May Be Divorced From Reality"

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Steven M Cohn, PhD, MBA, LMFT has twice been named one of the top three marriage counselors in Portland, Oregon by the non-profit organization Three Best Rated

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