If you were injured and trying to reach a safe place, would you step onto a rickety, swinging bridge?
That's a fair description of too many second marriages. When the remarriage creates a blended family—in which at least one of the spouses becomes a stepparent—the footing's even more treacherous. Couples may have charged ahead, stepped on a couple rotten planks, and now dangle, holding on for dear life.
Sadly, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics, almost 65 percent of remarriages end in divorce. And Barna Research shows that born-again Christians divorce at virtually the same rate as the rest of the population.
Here's the added complication for blended families: Experts say it typically takes four to eight years for a new family to blend—to feel like a real family rather than a stepfamily. But of the second marriages that fail, most do so in the first four years—before families realistically could have expected to blend.
So wouldn't you feel more confident crossing that remarriage bridge if you had a map, drawn by couples who have crossed before you, that revealed which planks were secure and which were rotten?
Any marriage sees its share of conflict in its early years, as couples realize they're not Cinderella and Prince Charming. The fairy-tale view of a second marriage assumes that all the mistakes and pain from the first marriage are ancient history. This time, couples say, we have a clean slate.1