Ever lost at a game or competition, then went away and licked your wounds? Then you regrouped, found the flaw that caused you to lose and approached things totally differently to achieve a win?
Many divorced people approach a second or subsequent marriage in the same way and many do not. Personally, I’d say it is the difference between those who are successful and those who are unsuccessful in their new marriage. As a matter of fact, the basic plan we’ll explore could help hold together a first marriage as well.
Although, a main objective of Happily Ever After These Days is to be encouraging and supportive to those who find themselves divorced, as a Christian blog, we highly advocate trying everything possible before you divorce.
15 Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. 16“For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel….Malachi 2:15 &16 New Living Translation
If God hates divorce, the statistics must break his heart. According to National Stepfamily Resource Center, 43% of first marriages will end in divorce within 15 years, of those who divorce, 75% will remarry (65% bring children from a previous union), and 60% of those who remarried re-divorce within the first 8 years of the marriage.
So, for those of us who find ourselves in the remarried group, what can we do to make sure we keep the covenant we’ve made with our spouse? As I’ve often said about my first marriage, which ended in divorce, you can’t do all of the work by yourself. If the other spouse can’t or won’t give what it takes, the marriage can’t survive, no matter how hard YOU try.
Here are 7 Things You Can Do To Make Second Marriage Successful:
- Honesty is always the best policy. Complete transparency is necessary, even if you don’t like what you hear or you are ashamed of your past. If you or your spouse have a struggle/issue for which counseling would help, be open or encourage them to seek out help or be willing to seek counseling for yourself. Admit your own faults in your first marriage and recognize if those faults try to creep into your current marriage. Many churches offer marriage and family counseling on a sliding scale cost, based on your financial ability.
- Practice forgiveness of others as well as of yourself. Also, encourage your spouse to forgive. As Christians, we are taught to forgive. However, it’s a lot harder to actually do it. Forgiveness is not saying what someone did is acceptable, but it is being willing to move past it.
- Pray and study the Bible together as a couple and as a family (if you have children).”Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19 NIV) It’s amazing how leaning on the Lord instead of looking to your spouse to fulfill all of your needs takes an invisible weight off of their shoulders. In turn, when they are allowed to become their best self through learning to be more Christ-like, the more they can meet many of your emotional needs. You also, become whole through your relationship with Christ and a better spouse as well. My husband and I agreed when we started dating that it takes two whole people to make a whole relationship. The old saying “it takes two halves to make a whole” is true mathematically, but such a myth emotionally.
- Play together as a couple and as a family. Families look different these days. You may not have children, but your pets are your children. Or you have an extended family at your church. Whatever your family structure, play together and recharge.
- Decide that divorce isn’t an option. That may seem like a strange statement from someone who ended her first marriage in divorce. The reason I say it, statistics prove that the second time around divorcing may seem easier and lead to more divorces among those who’ve already been though it. Don’t use the “D” word, ever! If you agree as a couple ahead of time that it’s not an option, hold each other accountable.
- Find people who have similar life circumstances. Church is a great way to find people who have common experiences but other places might include play groups for children, your children’s school activities, community groups such as Habitat For Humanity, marriage retreats, and many of your friends. Your friends with common experiences will help you not to feel alone and can help encourage you and vice versa.
- Always keep learning. We really have no excuse for pleading ignorance “these days” about almost any struggle your marriage may face. The best book, the Bible (Bible Gateway – Online Bible) has so much information and along with some of the wonderful marriage studies (we liked The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller), you can grow so much together. You can find most any type of study guide, book or resource you need on the internet. If you start to think you have no more to learn, that’s when you should be worried. We all can learn something new.
Relationships are hard, whether it’s marriage, being a parent or even in the workplace, but don’t give up. If you feel like you’ve been knocked down, go back in the ring and don’t give up.