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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.
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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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patricia

December 08, 2013  10:10am

Janet, the trouble with the "covenant marriage" position is that it is not all that scriptural. Those who hold to that idea believe that once you are married, even if you divorce, you are still married in the eyes of God. Which holds to an illogical idea. Is there anywhere in scripture that God issues commands against things which cannot be done anyway? When God said Let not man put asunder what God has joined together, He clearly indicates that it is possible to do so. There are no commands for instance, that say " Do not fly fifty feet above the sidewalk". Why? Because it cannot be done. God commanded against putting asunder a legitimate marriage precisely because divorce can and DOES end a marriage. I do think that when marriages end, the real reasons are twofold: an unwillingness to repent. An unwillingness to forgive. Those who hold your position are willing to issue condemning judgements over situations but have not much else to offer; that is not biblical Christianity.

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Sarah

February 28, 2013  11:07am

Janet, thanks for your loving and considerate response to this informative article. I hope you catch my sarcasm! I'm amazed that a woman who obviously likes to read and interpret scripture, would choose to seemingly ignore all the times in the Bible that 2nd marriages existed and the "adulterers" still were blessed by God. (Ruth & Boaz, David, Abraham as quick examples) It's amazing that you would like to ignore the 180,000 other ways we're supposed to love eachother and avoid point fingers? While I hate ripple effects of divorce, I have realized that God even allowed for it in the Bible under circumstances HE outlined- you need to re-look at that biblical. I will be praying for you sister, #1- that you never have to go through a failed marriage (for you or your children) nor have to deal with the death of a spouse, and #2- that the Holy Spirit would open your eyes to serve others with love and not a judgmental hostile tongue. To the author of the article- thanks!

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Sarah

February 28, 2013  10:55am

Janet, thanks for your loving and considerate response to this informative article. I hope you catch my sarcasm! I'm amazed that a woman who obviously likes to read and interpret scripture, would choose to seemingly ignore all the times in the Bible that 2nd marriages existed and the "adulterers" still were blessed by God. (Ruth & Boaz, David, Abraham as quick examples) It's amazing that you would like to ignore the 180,000 other ways we're supposed to love eachother and avoid point fingers? While I hate ripple effects of divorce, I have realized that God even allowed for it in the Bible under circumstances HE outlined- you need to re-look at that biblical. I will be praying for you sister, #1- that you never have to go through a failed marriage (for you or your children) nor have to deal with the death of a spouse, and #2- that the Holy Spirit would open your eyes to serve others with love and not a judgmental hostile tongue. To the author of the article- thanks!

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