Building a Successful Second Marriage

second marriage

While the divorce rate for first marriages is under 50%, that risk increases to well over 60% for second marriages and to more than 70% for third marriages. Subsequent marriages also tend to be shorter in duration than first marriages. Yet, despite this rather bleak reality, more than half of divorced people will marry again, often within just a few years of getting divorced.

Knowing this, before taking the plunge again, it makes sense to understand why second marriages fail more often and more quickly than firsts, and to know what you can do to help divorce-proof your next marriage.

Why Second Marriages Are More Likely to Fail

  1. Divorce seems less daunting after you've been through it once. As much as you don't want to go through another divorce, once you've been through one, you know you can handle it and you may be more likely to consider it again when relationship problems arise.

  2. Not wanting to be alone drives many people to marry faster than they should. While having the house to yourself is one of the more appealing aspects of divorce for some, often people have become accustomed to living with someone else and are uneasy about living alone. Feelings of loneliness and abandonment may be compounded when the couple has children who are now living in the other parent's home for a significant amount of time. Also, if your ex entered into a new relationship quickly, the urge to do the same may be stronger.

  3. Unresolved issues from the first marriage carry into the next. Emotional issues and/or financial problems from the first marriage often persist post-divorce. If left unresolved, these matters are likely to cause all of the same problems in your next marriage that you had in your first.

  4. Successfully blending families is hard work. Having children from prior relationships generally puts additional strain on the next marriage, which is one of the primary reasons why the divorce rate is even higher for second marriages involving step-children. Not only is it challenging for children to build healthy relationships with a parent's new spouse, problems with your ex-spouse related to custody, parenting time, child support and discipline may also arise and cause stress and resentment in your second marriage.

How to Fail-Safe Your Next Marriage

It's a no-brainer that you want to avoid mistakes from your first marriage in your next one, and it can't be stressed enough that putting in work before you get married again can save you time, money and heartache later.

  1. Seek counseling--before you get married again and after. Even in amicable divorces, it's short-sighted to assume you're baggage-free as soon as the ink dries on your divorce decree. Even if your ex-spouse was a truly terrible person and deserves the bulk of the blame for your marital problems, at the very least, you need to figure out what drove you to marry that sort of person in the first place. Absent significant personal growth, you're likely to pick the wrong person again. A combination of individual and couples counseling is one of the more important things you can do to ensure that your next marriage lasts forever.

  2. Dip, Don't Dive. Even if you're certain you've met Mr. or Miss Right, you don't have to rush into marriage. Consider living together before you get married. That provides you with a great opportunity to test your compatibility before making a legal commitment. You may find that it doesn't seem necessary to get married after all, especially since most of the legal benefits of marriage can be achieved by unmarried couples simply by executing the right documents. For more information on extending legal rights and benefits to spouses as well as non-marital partners through common estate planning documents, visit

  3. Know your limitations. Being older may make you wiser, but it may also make you more set in your ways. Consider what compromises you're willing to make for the relationship and which ones you aren't, and share this information with your partner. Encourage him or her to do the same.

    If you or your spouse has children from a prior relationship, make sure you both understand what's involved in taking on that responsibility. It not only requires you to create a relationship with the children, but also usually your spouse's ex as well. It also requires a willingness on your part to compromise regularly. You'll have to learn how to assist and support your new spouse in raising his or her own children. Being a step-parent requires great patience and cooperation, and like it or not, it isn't for everyone.

See Also