Are New Relationship Dynamics the Same as Past Broken Ones?

Are New Relationship Dynamics the Same as Past Broken Ones? August 28, 2019

If you think that your new romance or second marriage will be nothing like your former one, think again. A new research study from the University of Alberta showed that over time, couples in new relationships had the same dynamics as past broken ones, after the glow of the honeymoon phase had faded.

This eight-year study of 554 people in Germany showed that some relationship dynamics change when we find new partners, but couples are likely to recreate many of the same dynamics as in past ones. The researchers surveyed respondents at four points: a year before their first intimate relationship ended and again in the final year, then within the first year of the new relationship and again a year after that.

Seven relationship qualities were analyzed, including satisfaction, frequency of sex, ability to open up to a partner, how they expressed appreciation for each other and confidence that their love would last. All but two of these aspects were stable across the past and current relationships. The exceptions were frequency of sex and expressing appreciation for your partner. These both increased in the second relationship, which is not a surprise since new romances tend to be more passionate and loving.

Love may be sweeter the second time around, but once the bliss of a new found relationship wears off, the reality of joining two distinct worlds sets in. Different routines and parenting styles, financial issues, relationships with toxic ex-spouses, and children and stepchildren, can chisel away at the closeness of the remarried couple.

If they haven’t established a strong connection and are unprepared to deal effectively with conflict and lack the tools to repair daily breakdowns in communication, couples in new relationships or marriages may end up blaming each other rather than appreciating their unique attributes.

The most common causes of friction in remarried or recoupled relationships include:

Partner on the rebound. Most people need time to recover from their first marriage. If they jump into a new relationship too soon, they may have more difficulty establishing trust and a strong emotional bond early on. Statistics back up the fact that marriages formed by couples in rebound relationships are more likely to fail than ones that develop more slowly.

Unresolved Issues from the previous relationship. Couples can sabotage a second marriage if they have not worked through the issues that contributed to the demise of the former relationship. These issues might range from unhealthy ways of dealing with conflict, to differing needs for sexual or emotional intimacy, and mistrust due to sexual or financial infidelity.

Different parenting styles. Parenting for a remarried or newly couple with children is especially difficult. For the most part, first time couples usually have the opportunity before the arrival of children to become familiar with some of their differences in raising children, and even to resolve some of them. This isn’t usually the case for remarried couples who may find themselves immediately clashing over ways to educate, discipline, and care for the children in their new family.

Complex finances. Money management for a remarried couple presents a thicket of thorny issues such as whether or not to keep finances separate or have a prenuptial agreement. In addition, child support and alimony payments plus left over debt from the previous marriage can stretch a remarried couple’s finances causing strain in the relationship.

When couples begin a remarriage or new relationship, the most frequent mistake they make is expecting that everything will fall into place and run on automatic.  Just by starting a new relationship, it doesn’t mean things will automatically be different because people tend to fall into the same patterns. Truth be told, all relationships take work and a commitment to sustaining a strong emotional, physical, and sexual connection through good communication and rituals of spending quality time together.

Follow Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy A Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship was published in January of 2016 by Sourcebooks. Terry’s forthcoming book The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around was published by Sounds True in February of 2020.

I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry 


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