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Succeeding at Second Marriages

Remarriages are more complicated and at-risk than first marriages. Here's what you need to know to make it work.

Couples entering a second marriage are often seen as lugging too much baggage to make a success of their next go-round. This assumes, however, that people can come into any relationship without baggage, or a history that impacts the relationship—an assumption that is, of course, untrue. Childhood, previous relationships, even relationships with siblings and friends over the course of life all impact spouse selection and the relationship that ensues from there onward.

Second marriages are by nature more complicated and more at-risk for divorce than first marriages (over 60 percent divorce rate, compared to around 50 percent for first-time marriages). Yet it's also clear that remarriages need the same strong and consistent nurturing as first marriages. No matter what your stage of life or circumstance, with some extra TLC and effective communication, your second marriage can succeed.

Remarriage with Young Children

Family life with small children is one of the most stressful times in any marriage due to the never-ending physical demands of small children. Con sequently, remarriage at this time of life is a challenge.

Sandy* and Bill have four children between them. Bill has two girls, ages ten and six, and Sandy has twin boys, age five. Bill's kids live primarily with their mother, but come for visits every Wednesday and every other weekend. The six-year-old and twins get along pretty well, but the ten-year-old goes between feeling in charge and feeling left out of the group dynamic.

"It's just so hard to have to discuss everything," sighs Sandy in one session.

Bill and Sandy came in for a consultation to clarify family expectations, unify family rules, set-up their family's structure, and deal with the negative impact of their ex-spouses on their relationship. Much marriage time, at this stage of any couple's life, is devoted to parenting issues. For the remarried couple, the attention to four-parent, four-personality decision-making can make planning holidays, birthdays, and school-performance attendance an even greater challenge.

After laying out a number of strategies to deal with the parenting issues cooperatively, we turn to the marriage. "What are the aspects of Sandy that drew you to her?" I ask Bill.

"Her spiritual center in Christ, her love for not only her own, but for my children, and her commitment to making our family great," he says. Sandy beams.

Second marriages at this stage are strongest when the spiritual life in Christ between the couple is strong and nurtured regularly. These two know that God called them together after both their marriages ended (for "biblical divorce" reasons). They try to keep the knowledge that God has given them a second chance at a Christian marriage at the forefront when the aggravation from being a blended family surfaces.

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