When you’ve gone through a divorce, it’s normal to feel disillusioned about the whole idea of marriage. The emotional pain can be so brutal, it makes it difficult to think you could ever find love again. Much less the idea of tying the knot a second time.
In spite of all this, when the right person comes along you just might decide that you’re up for the challenge of a second marriage. But before you take the plunge again, it’s a good idea to examine what went wrong in your first marriage. It’s also smart to create a vision for a successful second union.
Here’s how to be better at marriage the second time, according to the experts and those who’ve been through it.
Take Time to Reflect and Acknowledge the Baggage
Everyone has baggage, especially after getting out of a failed marriage. If you haven’t healed and worked through the issues that contributed to the demise of your first marriage, you are setting yourself up for more heartache.
“The first marriage gave you reasons why you should not settle for less,” relationship expert Kemi Sogunle says. “You [should] evaluate your requirements, the non-negotiables and reflect on the lessons learned. Take time to grieve, heal, forgive and move forward in newness.”
Taking the time to acknowledge your baggage is important. Communicating with each other about what kind of marriage will work for you will help you go into your second one with more realistic expectations.
Relationship coach Toni Coleman says that first-time married couples have high expectations and no experience. But the second time around, they have a more mature, balanced idea of what they want.
Working together as a team to create a second marriage built on a strong foundation of love, respect, and dedication to each other is essential. The happiness of your family depends on it. Marriage is always a work in progress, and you get out of it what you put in.
Don’t Take Things for Granted
Because they know just how much work it takes to have a successful marriage, remarried couples are more inclined to put effort into preserving their second union. Parenting coach Elisabeth Stitt says that her second marriage has been so much better than her first because she doesn’t take things for granted.
“I have worked on it by developing specific habits that keep me focused on it. For example, even if I am exhausted and ready for bed, I take the time to sit on the couch and press up next to my husband every night. Maybe all we do is watch TV, but it makes me feel connected to him after a day of running around,” Stitt told The Huffington Post.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Even though it’s painful, divorce can teach us a lot about ourselves. It can also give you a clearer vision of what you want from a relationship, as well as teach you what you truly need from a partner, what they’re able to give, and what you absolutely can’t give in on.
When you are heading into a second marriage, you know all about the hard work it takes to make a relationship last. This can help you make your second marriage happy and sustainable.
According to Coleman, women tend to see their wedding as the goal when getting married the first time. The second time, though, they recognize that the wedding is just the beginning, not the accomplishment. It’s what comes after that really matters.
Be Vulnerable, Take Risks, and Communicate
The keys to a successful second marriage are being vulnerable, taking risks, and communicating honestly. According to DivorceMag.com, expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in a respectful way is important. Be forthcoming about your concerns because resentment can build when you try to bury negative feelings.
A lot of remarried couples have issues with bouncing back from conflict or disagreement in a healthy way. The solution is to get really good at relationship repair skills. Instead of arguing about the same trivial thing over and over, addressing the real issues at hand and getting back on track is essential.
The second time around, you should already know that putting aside resentments can destroy your relationship. You will experience conflict in your second marriage. But if you try to avoid it, you are putting your relationship at risk.
Be Accountable During a Dispute
You had conflicts in your first marriage, and you’ll have them in your second. But this time around, you have experience and know what it takes to make things work. If you can be accountable for your part in a conflict, it can change the dynamic of your relationship in a positive way.
Dr. Julie Gottman from the Gottman Institute says that “one person’s response will literally change the brain waves of the other person.” She says to apologize to your partner when appropriate because it will validate their feelings and promote forgiveness.
Don’t Try to “Fix” Your Partner
After a failed first marriage, you’ve probably learned the value of having realistic expectations about a spouse. You know your partner isn’t going to change. Trying to “fix” your partner isn’t going to work, either.
For example, if you need outward signs of affection to feel secure and loved, falling in love with someone who is reserved is a recipe for disaster. These differences will erode over time and cause serious problems in the relationship. But, you already know this!
Don’t expect your partner to change, and don’t try to fix them. Instead, accept the differences and focus on improving yourself. Dealing with your own issues can work wonders for a successful relationship.
Set New Parameters
When you are getting married for a second time, it’s the perfect opportunity to “experience a new you,” Dr. Nekeshia Hammond says. In a new relationship, you can take on a new perspective about yourself, set new parameters, and be an all-around better person. Now is the time to wipe the slate clean and start over completely.
If you want your second marriage to succeed, you have to risk being vulnerable with your spouse. Love, respect, determination, communication, and learning from your mistakes will improve your chances of having a second marriage that lasts.