Marriage After Divorce: Getting it Right the Second Time Around
Are you starting over, beginning a new relationship after divorce? Remarriage after one or more failed relationships can be scary, so much so that some say “never again”.
Frank Sinatra beautifully sang, “Love is lovelier, the second time around”. Ole Blue Eyes, as well as many of us, have experienced the betrayal in those words. Nothing will be lovelier unless you do something different the next time around.
Divorce rates remain high, across the board. Couples of faith are not exempt.
If you’re moving toward your second or third marriage, or you have remarried and are already feeling the signs and signals that trouble is on its way, read on.
It’s confusing, not to mention painful, to learn that a commitment, a vow, or a promise is not always enough to hold a relationship together. Our sacred commitment was not the glue to keep us together.
So how can you assure a great start the second time around?
Healing After Divorce:
Healing from relationship loss is important before moving on to another. If you are stuck in the pain of divorce and the fear of trusting again, reach out for help. Just like with physical illness or injury, time to heal is imperative for strong restarts.
Depending on your circumstances, it could mean talking with trusted friends or family, clergy or lay counselors. Healing from abusive relationships may require professional therapy. Making sense of our life stories as we go is important for personal and relational health. Before moving into another relationship give yourself time and get the help you need.
What will you commit to?
Whether the first or the fourth, insuring a successful relationship takes more than being committed to a commitment. Without a commitment to connection there is great danger of failure.
We are wired for connection ~ that is the glue that will hold a relationship together.
The hurt of a failed marriage may leave you feeling like you must put better boundaries in place the next time around. And though healthy boundaries are important in all relationships, building walls to protect our hearts from the horrible pain of divorce is not healthy. Unless you are looking for just a roommate or a platonic relationship, an emotional stockade is not the way to protect yourself from another heartbreak. Shutting down emotional intimacy will not result in healthy, secure, long-lasting relationship.
Feeling emotionally safe with our partner may be something you have never experienced, but research shows that it is key to healthy relationship. Emotionally Focused Therapy is a scientifically validated form of therapy that helps couples heal emotional injuries and create healthy attachment bonds.
So what is the secret to successful seconds? What we found may surprise you!
I talked with a group of folks recently about their failed marriages. I asked specifically what they felt had led to their divorce.
Number 1 answer: “I didn’t feel like I was a priority to my spouse.”
That one statement can be translated in a lot of different ways. Yes, many had struggled with addictions within their marriage or differences in faith. Some just couldn’t agree on how to raise the kids or how to spend their money. Some felt like they argued constantly, and others like they didn’t argue enough. These are symptoms of unhealthy relationship.
The reasons for broken relationship are many and can often seem complicated. But we cannot ignore the one thing that, I believe, we all crave… being a priority. The same people who divorced because “they didn’t feel like a priority” are looking for their next mate to “have their back and to be there for them”.
Let’s not miss this big deal! Regardless of how hard we fight for independence we all want to feel like a priority. It is foundational to relationship security and a marriage that lasts!
From the day we enter the world we want to be noticed and we want to be heard. We want to feel special, needed, cared for and cared about. We want to be someone’s priority, from cradle to grave. Marriage doesn’t change that.
Do you remember when you met that first special guy or gal? Magical, right? Perhaps even the planets fell into perfect alignment. In new relationships the “new love hormone”, dopamine, does its job in making us feel giddy, light-headed, forgetful, and like rearranging our lives in order to prioritize our new love. We go out of our way to be there for our main squeeze.
So what happens after we walk down the aisle, profess our love and commitment before family and friends and sign the marriage certificate?
How do we go from being the sun, moon and stars in the eyes of our beloved, to feeling as though we’re an afterthought to them? Yes, that sounds harsh, but it’s the sad truth. At some point in our relationship, we stop feeling as though we matter to our partner.
It’s common for young lovers to begin marriage with their sights on career building, baby making and home buying. They have talked those things through, sometimes even in pre-marital counseling. They’ve agreed that those are all priorities.
So here’s the thing about priorities. When one moves up the list, something, or someone, must move down the list. The most noble of intentions to create a safe and secure marriage often means moving our spouse down the list until eventually they feel like they’re at the bottom of the heap. The high-paying job, beautiful home and adorable munchkins often shift a spouse from their previously held position of being #1.
We see this scenario play out over and over in the lives of couples who end up in our therapy office, desperately hoping to save their marriage. Whether it’s their first or fifth committed relationship, unless they’ve prioritized their partner, they usually end up in trouble.
A commitment to life together requires that we heal from past hurts, commit to connection and examine our priorities on an ongoing basis and make the necessary adjustments to keep our spouse #1.