Marrying for a second ― or third time ― is not for the faint of heart.
Even with the best intentions, statistics show that second or later marriages are much more likely to end in divorce than first marriages.
Why are these unions more perilous than first marriages? Below, marriage therapists share seven reasons why remarrying couples have a harder time staying together.
“A lot of couples enter into second marriages before the first one is finished. This can contribute to trust issues surfacing later on in areas such as communication with an ex or activity on social media sites. Healthy boundaries are crucial in all relationships, but especially in second marriages.” ― Kurt Smith, a therapist who counsels men
“In first marriages, it’s expected that couples will split finances as well as share financial goals and responsibilities. Because of the higher age of couples in second marriages, couples often get together with much more financial assets than they had in their first marriages. They also probably had independent financial goals they’ve been working towards for a long time before they got married a second time. And just because they’re married now doesn’t mean that their goals should change from what they were before they were married. There are also questions about how to split household finances and how to divide assets that were accrued before the current marriage. Money is already a top issue that couples fight about. With more complicated finances, couples in second marriages are more likely to fight about finances, which often leads to divorce.” ― Aaron Anderson, a marriage and family therapist in Denver, Colorado
“Couples remarrying should still get premarital (or pre-commitment) counseling. A good counselor or religious figure will be able to ask the questions you need answered before you wed, including some questions you may not have thought of or are avoiding. You’ll start out on a more secure basis with some independent advice and counsel.” ― Tina B. Tessina, a psychotherapist and author of How To Be A Couple And Still Be Free
“One reason many couples choose to solve or deal with marital problems is because they don’t want to go through the turmoil of breaking up their family and divvying up community property. If you don’t share children and significant assets, there’s less incentive to try to make second marriages work. And if a stepparent has never bonded with stepchildren, there’s less guilt for splitting up a blended family that never felt blended ― in fact, it might even feel like a relief for all parties. Divorce is not as scary as it was the first time around. It’s now the ‘devil you know:’ if you’ve been through it once before, you know you can do it again.” ― Virginia Gilbert, a marriage and family therapist based in Los Angeles
“Whether its the unexpected complications of blending families or the disappointment that a new marriage still falls short of one’s hope for marital bliss, expectations about marriage and family will be challenged by a second marriage. Complicating this, many second marriages aspire to avoid the irreconcilable problems they left in a previous marriage, only to find them in different forms in their new marriage. Expectations are often unreasonably high, and bonds can crumble under this burdensome weight.” ― Alicia H. Clark, a psychologist in Washington, D.C.
“You both likely have leftovers from earlier relationships. If you understand your own history and seek to learn about your partner’s, you’ll stop repeating past mistakes. Talking about your past will help you understand each other, and resolve guilt, fear and jealousy about past loves. Learn about your similarities and differences, hopes and dreams. Familiarity with what went wrong in the past will help you recognize problems before you repeat them.” ― Tina B. Tessina
“When people get married, they envision all the love and romance that they’ll share together as a happily wedded couple. But most couples in second marriages also bring children with them which means that along with all the romance comes practical aspects of managing not just one, but two families. That means shuttling children around to and from exes’ houses, splitting holidays and helping each others’ kids (who may not like you) with homework, dance costumes and soccer practice. That also means that you may not have the time together you want to have because you’re splitting it with both partner’s children. All the to-do’s of one family is hard enough ― having two families makes it even harder.” ― Aaron Anderson