This guest article from Psych Central was written by Kalman Heller, PhD
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While data for second marriages is currently very limited, the early indication is that the frequently stated 60 percent divorce rate is also a gross exaggeration and that divorce rates for second marriages may not be any higher than for first marriages.
However, regardless of the statistics, it is also very clear that much anxiety is embedded in the decision to remarry. Most divorced individuals feel they have “failed” at marriage once and are usually terrified at the thought that they might “fail” again. What follows are some suggestions on how to improve the likelihood that the choice of a second partner is more likely to work out than the first choice did.
Understanding Why the First Marriage Ended in Divorce
This is a critical step for each person going through a divorce and is one reason why I strongly recommend divorce counseling even when there is no desire or possibility of staying together. There is much to learn from analyzing why you married each other and what led to experiencing a loss of trust, companionship, and love (assuming the marriage had that foundation to begin with).
Sometimes it was a mismatch right from the beginning but more often there was a genuine sense of being in love and an experience of being best friends and lovers. What happened to change that? The answers to that question will provide valuable insight about what personal issues you may need to work out as well as what you need to be looking for in a new partner.
There are so many possible reasons why a relationship falls apart that I can’t possibly cover all of them in a short article. But some issues are definitely more common than others. Probably the most common is the underlying feelings of inadequacy, shame or guilt that we all carry to some degree.
If these feelings are either especially strong or just more than we can adequately manage, it will result in distrust (expectation of being rejected or abandoned if your partner really gets to know you) and patterns of marital behavior that push your partner away whenever increased intimacy threatens to reveal your “badness.” If issues with intimacy sabotaged your first marriage, they will likely do the same to your second one unless you have worked on reducing them.
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A successful marriage requires negotiating a series of challenges. These are effectively described and discussed in Judith Viorst’s excellent book, Grown-Up Marriage.
I will just note a few of them here: