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Secrets of a Successful Second Marriage

There is quite a bit of controversy over divorce rates, and recently the prevalent thinking is that divorce rates have been overstated by quite a bit. The data for second marriages is very limited, and historically many thought that the divorce rate for second marriages was higher than for first marriages, but recently that thinking has changed. Now, many think that the divorce rate for second marriages has been grossly overstated at 60%, and could even be lower than the stated rate of 30% for first marriages (for educated couples marrying over the age of 25).

It's important to recognize that there are many new challenges that a second marriage can face. One or both spouses may come into the marriage with children, and stepchildren may be reluctant to accepting someone new into their lives. Raising a combined family also leaves little time for the new partners to spend time alone together. Spousal and child support payments can strain the new couple's finances, and "baggage" from the previous marriage can haunt both spouses (such as a bitter ex).

Regardless of the statistics and the additional challenges, though, there are many key ingredients to a successful second marriage. Let's take a look at some of the "secret" ingredients to a successful second marriage.

The past. Not surprisingly, experts say the success of a second marriage depends heavily on how well both partners dealt with their first divorce. "If both sets of ex-spouses are on cordial speaking terms and, if children are involved, both sets work effectively together as parents, the ripple effect will be relatively minor," says Michael Zentman, a psychologist and director of the postgraduate program in marriage and couple therapy at Adelphi University, Garden City, N.Y.

Timing. Those who wait to marry again, and spend some time getting to know themselves, what they really want in a partner, and why they want to be married, have a much better chance at having a successful second marriage. Taking time to explore the mistakes of the first marriage is critical to not repeating the pattern of the first marriage. Many people find that working with a therapist to delve into deep issues like this can also be very helpful.

Beliefs and Values. A major advantage that many people have going into a second marriage is that they are older, wiser (hopefully!), and have more life experiences. They know what is important to them. Thus, finding someone that is aligned with you in your core beliefs and values will make it easier to spend the rest of your lives together. Things like religion, money, outside interests and friendships, sexual needs, and communication styles are all important issues that should be discussed in depth!

Money. Money is typically cited as one of the top reasons couples get divorced. So, it makes sense that how couples deal with the topic of money in their second marriage can also be a success factor. Of particular importance is the issue of control of the finances. A secret many couples don't know is that they should consider money as "ours," not his and hers, regardless of whether there is a primary earner, child support monies, or different sizes of debts. This can be tough for many couples who are older, have established careers and are used to being financially independent. However, marriage experts perceive this as part of marital intimacy and commitment. Sharing assets as one is consistent with sharing life as one.

Effort. Another common reason for divorce is that couples drift apart, and lose their love for each other. In fact, many people abandon courtship behaviors the minute they get married! So, our last secret to a successful second marriage is to continue doing all the nice little things that made you fall for one another - sending flowers and cards, giving small gifts, complimenting each other and thanking each other. Don't let the romance die after you get married again. Dr. Tessina, a psychotherapist and the author of "Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage" says, "Every couple has what I call a ‘relationship reservoir.' If you fill it with good feelings and memories, you can draw on that when times get tough. But if your reservoir has lots of negatives and resentments, your marriage will not have staying power."

There you have it - those are our secrets for a successful second marriage. Do you have others to share? We would love to hear them!

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