Many couples who remarry do so without considering the implications. Second or subsequent marriages often present greater challenges than a first marriage.
A second marriage is often accompanied by problems that are not so prevalent in first marriages. In her book, Improving the Odds (HarperCollins Publishers, 1994), Averill Richardson explains what some of these problems are and how they can affect a second marriage.
Things to Consider When Remarrying
When people marry for a second or third time, it is a good idea to discuss potential problems and how they will be handled if they arise. Here are some areas to consider:
- Age gaps – remarriage often involves spouses who have a large age difference. One partner may have children from a previous marriage and these children may be close in age to the new spouse.
- Instant parenthood – if one partner has custody of children from a previous marriage, the new spouse will be thrust into instant parenthood as well as adjusting to married life.
- Experience of life – an older partner may have experienced parenthood, overseas travel and much that the world has to offer. This may leave a younger husband or wife feeling inferior or disadvantaged.
- Alcohol and drug problems may worsen under the pressure of a new marriage.
- Anger is a reaction to frustration and hurt and these are inevitable when adjusting to a new marriage relationship and the change in lifestyle, routines and habits.
- Cultural differences may cause difficulties especially if children are involved. Previous marriage partners may fight for custody on the basis of not wanting their children to be exposed to different customs, religions or beliefs.
- Depression may result as couples struggle to adapt to each other and all the stresses of a new marriage.
- Grief – remarriage is a new stage of life and it is natural that individuals may experience grief for the loss of a previous life and partner.
- Sexual adjustments may be required if one partner has never been married and the other has years of sexual experience.
- No matter what circumstances led to remarriage, partners may have to deal with feelings of jealousy when a previous spouse is quoted or referred to.
How to Handle Potential Problems in Remarriage
While it is not healthy to look for trouble, discussing potential problems can be helpful. Couples should make time to sit down and talk, away from distracting influences. They need to air any concerns they may have and discuss how situations will be handled if they arise. Some of the common problems include the following:
- negative reactions from step-children
- how to handle birthdays, Christmas and weddings
- which church to attend
- feelings of jealousy
Many remarriages are successful and bring great joy to those involved. Being aware of possible problem areas helps couples to face difficult situations with maturity. Communication is important as issues are worked through and spouses talk about things such as jealousy, partner’s children from a previous marriage and cultural differences.