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8 Hurdles to Happiness: How to Make a Second Marriage Work

Second Marriage

The second marriage is likely to contain these eight hurdles to happiness. Recognizing them and working through them is key to survival.

When you say “I do,” you believe in your heart it will last forever, but things don’t always go as planned. There are times when your first nuptials don’t go the way you want, and things end before the death do you part. A second marriage is always different from the first.

No matter why your first marriage didn’t work, you likely carry baggage left from the experiences of your first marriage that affect the way you behave, perceive, and react to your new relationship. You don’t have the same outlook when you enter into your second set of vows, which gives you an altered sense of what being in a marriage is really about.

Avoid these second marriage traps

There are common issues many people experience in a second marriage, which poke holes into even the greatest relationship. If you are aware of them, it helps you avoid falling into these second marriage traps.

#1 Fear of abandonment. If your first marriage ended, and not only was it not what you expected, but you didn’t want it to end, that leaves you with fears making you react in sabotaging ways. When someone disappoints you or leaves your life unexpectedly, it makes you continue to look for signs in your second marriage that things are either going south or that you are going to be left behind again.

That can lead to relationship anxiety, which makes the pressure of marriage that much more intense. I was widowed at the age of 34 when my husband passed away, and it gave me a sense of impermanence. I dreamed of how my life would go, visions of my family growing up, and my first husband and I growing old together. [Read: Relationship anxiety: 20 mistakes you need to stop making]

When he died of cancer, I no longer had the security of believing that things have permanence. From that moment on, everything in my life seemed pretty temporary. The fear of being abandoned, to someone who wasn’t expecting it, can be very powerful and hard for another partner to deal with.

#2 Assuming you will take the same roles. If you start out assuming the other partner knows “the plan,” it can lead to a lot of miscommunication, resentment, and dissatisfaction. When you enter into your second marriage, make sure to make your expectations about roles known. That avoids placing intention on what the other person is, or is not, doing.

#3 Dealing with the ex. Your first marriage started off with just the two of you. The second one usually starts off with more than just two people trying to maneuver life together for the first time. Typically, a second marriage is forced to deal with the emotions of the ex-spouse.

If there are hard feelings between them and your new spouse, it wreaks havoc on your marriage. Make sure you deal with an ex before you decide to marry anyone. An ex can be the most cancerous things to a new marriage. An ex can make it their sole purpose in life to make you miserable and to break you up. [Read: 8 positive and smart ways to deal with a hostile ex]

#4 Children. There are many times when a second marriage is an instant family. Melding two families together with children involved is one of the most stressful things any couple can do. Deciding roles like who the disciplinarian is and who is going to be responsible for the good cop versus bad cop, can be highly intense.

If not agreed upon, the roles become confused. Worse yet, if you don’t have one another’s back, there could be serious trouble brewing. What any couple who is going to survive parenthood understands is, united we stand, divided we fall. It takes a lot of communication, as well as trust, to deal with all the emotions kid bring to the table and bring out in all of us. [Read: 9 things you just can’t overlook when you date a single parent]

#5 The family. When you marry someone, you marry their family. In the same respect, when you divorce someone, you get to keep their family, like it or not. A family is difficult to maneuver when it is your first marriage, even harder when you are dealing with a pseudo-family.

What do I mean by a pseudo-family? I mean, the family you married into when you said “I do,” especially if they don’t accept the “I don’t anymore.” If you have children from your previous marriage, you always need to deal with the in-laws, the uncles, and the aunts.

That is going to forever be a part of your second marriage. So too is dealing with time spent, who gets who, and who is going where and when. If you want your second marriage to last, you have to not only put on a united front. You have to pull out that smile when you would rather pull out a hatchet! [Read: 15 strange and unknown facts about divorce]

#6 The in-laws. I know from experience twice now, mother-in-laws can either be a blessing to your family or the nail in the coffin. If you are on your second marriage, it may be the case that your mother-in-law may not have gotten over the divorce any more than the ex has. That leaves you feeling as if you are second fiddle.

If your in-laws treat you like you are second best, take heart. They aren’t the deciding factor in your current marriage. In fact, look at it this way, no matter how much they loved the ex and went to bat for them, it just didn’t work. If it continues to make you uncomfortable, perhaps remind them there was a reason why your spouse is no longer with their ex. And the reason is that they weren’t happy, end of story.

#7 Your house or mine? Typically with a second marriage, you are both ingrained and comfortable with your lifestyle which includes your home. A second marriage normally happens when we are well into our adult lives and accumulated things, including a home.

If you love your house and so do they, you may have to decide which is the better fit for you both. Sometimes that causes problems in the relationship. The thing to remember is that a home isn’t a home if it doesn’t contain the people you love. A structure is just walls and windows. [Read: 12 signs you’re being selfish in the relationship]

If you love someone, then wherever you are with them is home. As difficult as it may be to let your house go, it may be the best thing for you both. The reason we feel at home anywhere is that it contains within it all the things that make us feel secure, loved, and cherished. No four walls or beautiful patio does that. It is all about the people who live in a dwelling, not the comfort the construction affords you.

#8 Your friends. Your friends just want to see you happy, or at least that is what you hope. It is difficult when you split with your ex. Almost like custody, we have to decide who gets which friends. If your friends love your ex, they are going to be less open to your new marriage or significant other. [Read: 13 signs your friends are ruining your relationship]

You have to make a decision in your life to give your new spouse precedence. If your old friends think your ex is the diggity, then let those friends go and hang out with your ex. Sometimes your friends back you up and stay until you find something in your life that makes you happy and then they selfishly want what they can’t have.

Just remember, if you want your second marriage to work, you have to make them your number one priority.

[Read: Marriage advice: 11 tips for a happily ever after]

It is possible to move on with life and have a happy second marriage, but sometimes it may take a little fancy maneuvering on both partners to make it work.

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Julie Keating
Julie Keating

A writer isn’t born, but created out of experiences. No lack of subject matter, my life reads more like fiction than anything that could have been imagined...

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