Over the last two decades since my divorce, I’ve come to the conclusion that my first marriage didn’t fail – it simply ended due to incompatibility and our difficulties resolving or managing ongoing conflicts.
Throughout my journey from an unhappy first marriage to a healthier second marriage, I’ve examined my first marriage from every angle – dissecting every reason why it didn’t work.
I also took my time to decide the kind of second marriage that would work for me and made a list of pros and cons about my decision to get married again. After all, why take a chance on love the second time around if it would be destined to fail? As a therapist, I frequently advise clients to make lists of pros and cons about decisions a lot less crucial than getting remarried, so I decided to follow my own advice.
My List of Pros and Cons of Getting married Again:
- After being divorced, I’m a lot clearer about what I want from a relationship. Divorce has taught me what relationship dynamics promote my best self. Perhaps if I approach commitment with my eyes wide open, I won’t be so easily disappointed when we hit a rough patch.
- I’ll be making a decision based on choice rather than fear of being alone. For instance, when I was in my 20’s, there were a lot of social stigmas about being single. Attitudes such as “You’ll be an old maid” if you are not wed by twenty-five,” fueled my fear of being alone and I married too young the first time.
- I’ve worked through many of my hang-ups and have higher self-esteem. In my case, growing older has helped me gain a healthier perspective on my mistakes. I’m less likely to blame myself for errors or flaws. Rather, I tend to view them as errors in judgment. As a result, I’m more likely to evaluate myself in positive ways, and I’m less self-critical.
- I’m smarter about love. Since I’ve learned from the past, I believe I’m less likely to repeat it.
- I have a more realistic perspective on marriage. A good marriage is work, and there are many inevitable ups and downs. I’ve taken the time to examine my beliefs and expectations about relationships and worked through issues that might be obstacles to success (and found support from counseling, reading, and blogging).
- I’ve learned the practice of forgiveness. As a result, I’m more likely to apologize to my partner when appropriate. I’ve learned that love is not enough to sustain a marriage. Practicing a forgiving mindset has taught me that saying you’re sorry in an authentic way can heal a wound, even when you didn’t hurt your partner’s feelings intentionally.
- Getting remarried may prevent me from pursuing some of my own dreams. A good marriage takes time and fostering it would not allow me the time to work on my own projects and dreams (such as writing another book).
- The divorce rate for second marriages is much higher than first ones, so would be risky. I definitely don’t want to endure another divorce.
- I sometimes second-guess myself and wonder if I have what it takes to keep a second marriage strong. Since I’m a conflict avoider, practicing good communication can be a challenge at times. When conflict rears its ugly head, it sometimes feels easier to hide my head in the sand rather than listen to my partner’s side of the story and compromise. When we disagree on solutions to problems that arise, it’s hard for me to express my needs clearly and assertively.
- Many friends and family members have advised me to stay single. Because many of my good friends and close family members have tied the knot more than once, and have been divorced (more than once), some of them have advised me to play it safe and stay single.
Long story short, after analyzing this list and weighing the importance of each item, I decided not to play it safe and took a risk when I remarried in 1997. Fortunately, in my case I’ve been happily married the second time around for 24 years. And after almost a quarter of a decade, I still feel grateful for a fresh start, love my husband (in spite of our differences), and recognize the newness in each day of my marriage.
In my opinion, the key ingredients to a successful remarriage are selecting a partner who is a good match for you and both partners willingness to work through the inevitable hard times of marriage. It’s also crucial to have realistic expectations and take off your rose-colored glasses because we all have baggage. With courage and persistence, you too can defy the statistics that say that your second or third marriage is doomed to fail and learn to trust yourself and others again.
Your divorce experience can make you stronger, more realistic, and better prepared for the requirements of love whether you decide to marry or stay single. Perhaps writing a list of pros can cons (about getting married again) will help you decide whether getting remarried is the right choice for you. In any event, my wish is that you see relationships as teachers and realize you have it within your reach to create satisfying partnerships and to achieve personal happiness with!
Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Her book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website. Feel free to ask a question here.
Terry’s forthcoming book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, will be published by Sounds True in February of 2020.