Marriage Missions International

DIVORCED? Don’t Remarry Until You Read This

Please note: The following is addressed to “Americans” but these same principles apply in most countries, as well in many ways. Please read and glean through the article as it pertains to most who marry, divorce, and consider remarriage, whether American, or not.

Americans are an optimistic lot. Perhaps nowhere is our optimism more apparent than in our approach to marriage. For one of every two of us, certifiable love can be expected to end in tears. Still, 90% of Americans marry. Indeed, surveys consistently show that for virtually all of us, men as well as women, marriage holds an honored place on our wish list, something we believe is necessary for attaining life happiness —or its slightly wiser sibling, fulfillment.

If our optimism steers us into marriage, it goes into overdrive with remarriage. Despite disappointment, pain, disruption, and sometimes even the destruction of divorce, most of us opt to get back on the horse. An astonishing 70% of the broken-hearted get married all over again. If you count among the remarried those who merge lives and even households without legal ratification, the de facto remarriage rate is much closer to 80%. Americans don’t divorce to get out of marriage. Yet a whopping 60% of remarriages fail. And they do so even more quickly than first marriages.

If the divorce and remarriage rates prove one thing, it’s that conventional wisdom is wrong. The dirty little secret is experience doesn’t count when it comes to marriage/remarriage. A prior marriage actually decreases the odds of a second marriage working. Ditto if you count as a first marriage its beta version; three decades of a persistently high divorce rate have encouraged couples to test their relationship by living together before getting married. But even the increasingly common experience of prior cohabitation actually dims the likelihood of marital success.

“It’s so counterintuitive,” says Diane Sollee, M.S.W., a family therapist who is director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, an organization based in Washington, D.C. “It just seems obvious that people would be older and wiser, or learn from the mistakes of a failed first marriage and do better next time around. But that’s like saying if you lose a football game you’ll win the next one. You will —but only if you learn some new plays before you go back on the field.”

Remarriage may look a lot like any other marriage —two people, plenty of hope, lots of love and sex, and a desire to construct some form of joint life. It even smells like an ordinary marriage —the kitchen is busy once again. But it has its own subversive features, mostly invisible to the naked eye, that make it more tenuous than first marriage. It’s not impossible to make remarriage work, but it takes some concerted action to make love better the second time around.

Why Experience Doesn’t Count No, when it comes to relationships, people don’t automatically learn from experience. There seems to be something special about relationships, some unique and intrinsic element, that prevents people from even recognizing their failures. A close look at marriage suggests several possibilities.

Love deludes us. The rush of romance dupes us into believing our own relationship uniquely defies the laws of gravity. “We feel that this new, salient, intense relationship fills the firmament for us,” observes William J. Doherty, Ph.D., director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at the University of Minnesota and author of The Intentional Family (Addison-Wesley). “Under those conditions, our background knowledge of relationships doesn’t kick in.”

There’s not even more cynicism, once you fall in love again, Doherty adds. “You really think ‘problems are for regular people and our relationship certainly isn’t regular,’ so the problem had to be your spouse. Partners bring to remarriage the stupidity of the first engagement and the baggage of the first marriage.”

Marriage deflects us. Marriage in fact contains a structural psychological loophole, an ellipsis waiting to swallow us at the first hint of unhappiness. Being a two-party event from the get-go, marriage affords us the (morally slippery) convenience of thinking that any problems reside in our partner. We simply chose the wrong person last time. Or despite our shining presence and best efforts, the other person developed some critical character flaw or craziness. Either way, we focus —wrongly, it turns out —on the characteristics of a partner rather than on the processes taking place in the relationship, by definition involving both persons.

“Partners don’t reflect on their own role,” says Jeff Larson, Ph.D. ” They say ‘I’m not going to make the same mistakes again.’ But they do make the same mistakes unless they get insight through their own thinking about what caused the divorce and their role in the marriage failure.” Larson is quick to admit that our culture generally provides us with no road map for assessing ourselves or our relationships. And some people are just too narcissistic to admit they had any role in the failure of a prior relationship. They’ll never come to an understanding of what went wrong. That makes them lousy bets as new partners. What’s more, we’re deeply social creatures and even distant rumblings of threat to our most intimate social bond are intolerable. When problems develop, marriages become so painful that we can’t bear to look at our own part in them.

• Conflict confuses us. Our ability to learn about relationships shuts down precisely when marriage begins to get tough-and just because couples develop disagreements. Conflict is an inevitable part of relationships.

But many people have no idea how to resolve the conflict; they in fact see it as a sign there’s something wrong with the relationship, as well as with their partner. With low expectations about their own ability to resolve relationship conflict, explains psychologist Clifford Notarius, Ph.D., people go into alarm mode. The resulting high levels of physiological arousal distort couple communication even further and prevent any learning from taking place. “When a husband then hears ‘let’s talk about money,’ he knows what’s coming,” says Notarius. “He doesn’t think something different can happen. He shuts down.”

“Till our last dying breath we still think, ‘someday I’ll meet a mensch and it will be perfect; he’ll fit with all my wonderfulness in such a way that it will all work,'” says Sollee. “We indulge the illusion that, with the right partner, conflict will be minimal.”

• Conflict rigidifies us. Arguments engage the Twin Terminators, the Arnold Schwartzeneggers of relationship life: blame and defensiveness. These big and bad provocateurs destroy everything in their path, pushing partners further apart and keeping them focused on each other. Invariably, marriage experts insist, whether the first marriage or the fourth, couples tend to trip over the same mistakes. Number one on the list of errors is unrealistic expectations of marriage. A decline in intensity is normal, to be expected, says Notarius. And in its own way, welcomed. It’s not a signal to bail out.

“You’ll be disappointed—but that opens the potential for a relationship to evolve into something wonderful: a developmental journey of adult growth. Only in supportive relationships can we deal with our own personal demons and life disappointments. The next stage of relationships brings the knowledge of having a partner who’ll be there no matter what, who can sit through your personal struggle for the hundredth time and support you. The promise of long-term relationships is the sharing of the secret self.”

Absent the knowledge of what a relationship is really like, partners tend to start down the road to divorce when the intensity wanes. Happiness, observes Pat Love, Ph.D., a marital therapist based in Austin, Texas, is the ratio between what you expect and what you get. “You have to suffer the clash of fantasy with reality in some relationship,” says Notarius. “Either you do it in the first relationship or you have ten first relationships.”

HOW TO REMARRY: Why is remarriage so difficult? The short answer is, because it follows divorce. Simply, something came before that didn’t work out well. People who divorced are in a highly vulnerable state. They want to be in close intimate relationship, but the failure factor is there. The divorced know what it’s like to have a steady dose of love. They know that life’s burdens are better when shared. But, says Love, “they got out, so they’re hungry. And when you’re hungry, you’ll eat anything.” The longing for comfort, for deep intimacy impels people to rush back into the married state. Says Love: “People tend to want to step in where they stepped out. They want to go back into the woodwork of marriage.”

Replacing Images Yet prospective remarriage partners need to build a relationship slowly, experts agree. ” They need to know each other individually and jointly,” says Robert F. Stahmann, Ph.D., professor of family sciences and head of a Marriage Preparation Research Project. “They need to know each other’s expectations.” They need time for bonding as a couple, because that relationship will be under stress through all the links to the past that will inhabit their present, none more tangible than children and stepchildren. In remarriage, children don’t grow out of the relationship, they precede it. Nor are they delivered by the stork as helpless little bundles, they come pre-packaged, with an entirely different set of agendas than the adults have. But more about that later.

Although feelings develop very quickly, courtship should be prolonged. It’s essential to allow enough time for the cognitive and emotional reorganization that has to take place. Says Love, “you’ve got to replace the image in your head of what a man or a woman is like based on your ex. It happens piece by piece, as with a jigsaw puzzle, not like a computer with the flick of a switch.”

Not Choosing Better Partners, Being Better Partners: Typically, when choosing a mate the second time around, people look for traits and tendencies exactly opposite to those of their first partner. A woman whose first husband was serious and determined will tend to look for someone who is a lot more fun. “Unfortunately,” observes Howard K. Markman, Ph.D., “to the extent they’re making conscious choices they’re looking at the wrong factors.” At the University of Denver, Markman and his colleagues are videotaping couples in a second marriage who were also studied in a first marriage.

“The motivation to do it differently is there,” says the researcher, “and that’s good. But they don’t know exactly what to do different. They’re not making changes in how they conflict, which is predictive of relationship quality.”

Further, he notes, both parties need to use the second marriage to themselves be better partners. “They both need to nourish the relationship on a daily basis. And they need to not do things that threaten the marriage in the face of disappointments,” such as hurling insults at one another. And of this he is sure: there’s even more opportunity for conflict and disappointment in second marriages because the challenges are greater.

Learning to Love Complexity: Remarriages are always more complicated than first marriages. “There are always at least four people in bed,” says Love. “him, her, his ex, and her ex-not to mention the kids.” The influence of exes is far from over with remarriage. Exes live on in memories, in daydreams, and often in reality, interacting with the children and, often enough, with your own parents and siblings. When you remarry,” says Larson, “you marry a person—and that person’s ex-spouse.” It just comes with the territory.

“A complete emotional divorce isn’t possible,” explains Minnesota’s Doherty. “You always carry that person around with you; a part of you retains a ‘we’ identity.” And if there are children, exes live on in the new household as permanent extensions of their children, arriving to pick up and deliver the kids, exerting parental needs and desires that have to be accommodated, especially at holiday and vacation times. What’s more, the ex’s parents are in the picture too, as the children’s grandparents, as is all of the ex’s extended family, as aunts and uncles and cousins.

Defusing Anger: Nothing keeps exes, and the past itself, more firmly entrenched in the minds of onetime spouses than anger, the negative emotion that keeps on giving. Unfortunately, anger is the typical byproduct of divorce in America, stoked over and over again by the adversarial legal process. Minimizing the impact of ghosts from the past means finding ways of unhooking from anger.

Venting Grief Divorce severs the legal attachment, but it doesn’t necessarily end the emotional attachment. It’s a myth that people can just “get over it,” says Stahmann. “There’s a lot more to it. You invested heavily in the relationship.” Divorce, he says isn’t unlike phantom limb pain. There’s nothing there but you can still have feeling. “You don’t fall out of love the way you fall out of a tree,” observes Denver’s Markman.

Even in the worst of relationships, says Stahmann, people entered in good faith. And they invested themselves in it. So it’s only natural they feel sad following the loss of that relationship. Often hidden, feelings of sadness and loss act as powerful undercurrents in a new relationship, preventing full commitment to it or keeping it from feeling fully satisfying. Unless people grieve the loss of the prior relationship and the end of the marriage, they’re at risk of staying covertly attached to it. “But they don’t grieve. Often they remain angry. Exploring the feelings of sadness, and understanding the ways in which the first marriage was good, is a way of unhooking from it,” he points out.

Many are the sources of loss that require some acknowledgment. Among the most ubiquitous:

“There is pain from the fact of former relationships that didn’t go well,” observes Hawkins. It’s not only subversive in its own right, it sets up fears that both inhibit commitment to the new relationship and actively distort communication between partners.

The loss of an attachment figure.”It has nothing to do with how you were treated,” says Love. “You lost someone you once cared about.”

Loss of dreams for the future. The thing about being conscious is that we live in the future as well as in the present (and the past).

Loss of intact family. We all harbor the idea of a perfect family, and it’s one in which emotions and biology are drawn along the same tight meridians. That doesn’t mean nothing else will work, just that it takes a greater degree of awareness and, often, much more effort.

Not to be overlooked is a sense of failure. Observes Pat Love: “A powerful element contributing to vulnerability in a second marriage is a sense of shame or embarrassment stemming from relationship failure.” Denial of any role in the marital breakdown is notwithstanding.

Grief is bound to be especially great among those who were dumped by their first spouse. For that reason, Jeff Larson recommends a waiting period of at least one or two years after a divorce and before a remarriage. “You can’t grieve loss and try to get used to a new relationship at the same time.”

Digging Up the Past: Stahmann emphasizes that for a remarriage to be successful, a couple has to look at their previous relationships and understand their own history. How did they get into the first marriage? What were the hopes and dreams? What expectations did they have? Yes, there was a time before the anger of divorce. By looking at the hopes and dreams they originally invested in, individuals learn to trust again.

“It’s essential that they do this together,” he says. “It helps each of them unhook from the past relationship. And it sets the precedent for looking at the foundation of the new relationship.”

Pat Love would take the joint exploration further. The reason second marriages are often short, she says, is that “people make up the idea that the problem was their prior partner. But you have to list what you didn’t like in your partner and own your own part in it. If you don’t understand your part, then you’re bound to do it again.”

“When you do something that reminds me of my old partner,” Love explains, “I play the whole movie in my head. I project all the sins of my past partner onto you. If you don’t want sex one night, then you’re ‘withholding,’ just like his ex.” The fact is, Love insists, “the things you didn’t like in your old partner actually live on in you.”

As necessary as is joint exploration of history, it doesn’t always take place. Couples are often afraid that a partner who brings up the past will get stuck there. Or that a discussion will reignite old flames, when in fact it helps extinguish them.”Couples often enter remarriage with their eyes closed more than in a first marriage,” reports Hawkins.” It’s as if they’re afraid the marriage won’t happen if they confront the issues.”

Once a couple has opened up and explored their pasts, they need to bring the kids in on the discussion. Most experts would reserve that conversation for after the wedding. “Kids don’t have the same understanding of how and why the prior relationship ended,” explains Stahmann. “Yet they need it.” On the agenda for discussion: how the adults got together, why the past failed, how contact with the biological parents will be maintained, and all the couple’s dreams and hopes for the future.

And just how will customs be merged? In any marriage, each partner to some degree represents a different culture, a different tribe with different traditions and rituals that have widely varying importance. Every symbol has a different meaning, every event a different set of implications and, behind it, a different history. The two distinct sets of highly structured traditions aren’t simply deeply emotionally resonant; they carry the force of commandment.

Yet the subtlest departure from tradition in ritual practice can make anyone feel like an outsider in his own home. One or both partners are bound to feel bad, even unloved, when their current family does the celebration “the wrong way.” The problem is culture clash is built in to marriage. “All marriage partners are incompatible,” says Frank Pittman III, M.D., an Atlanta-based family therapist whose most recent book is Grow Up: How Taking Responsibility Can Make You a Happy Adult (Golden Books, ’98).” Not only have they been raised in different families, they’ve been raised as members of different genders, indoctrinated into a different set of roles and rules which left each of them as half persons.”

That, however, is where the fun begins. “When marriages are incompatible, there’s conflict and electricity and the need to discuss things and compare perspectives, and thus come to know one another and oneself. That’s the source of a marriage’s energy.”

In other words, wise couples heading into remarriage explicitly discuss and agree on which ritual styles will prevail when. That encompasses the little rituals of every day: Will dessert be served with dinner? Or are evening snacks allowed? Are birthdays a time of gift-giving or a time for personal reckoning? Then there are the big celebrations sprinkled through the calendar, culturally designated as holidays but more likely hurdles of stress in remarriage households.

Negotiating External Forces: As if there aren’t enough internal hurdles in remarriage, there are outside forces that may potentially undermine the union, too. “People who lived independently before remarriage often have jobs, friend networks,and hobbies that are anti-relational,” points out Stahmann.

“These are spheres where they may have come to invest a lot of themselves as a regular source of gratification.” He counts among the possibilities learned workaholism. “Such individual-gratifying activities can be very hard to give up. Couples need time to work out these patterns.”

Coping with Kids: Nothing challenges a remarriage more than the presence of children from a prior marriage, and most remarriage households contain kids. While 60% is the break-up rate for all remarriages, for those involving children, the rates are higher, approximately 65%. The failure rate is highest in the first years, before these multiplex families have even sorted themselves out.

One reason, says Minnesota’s Doherty, is that a remarriage with children has more potential under miners than any other human relationship. “All you need is one active conspirator. It’s not uncommon for an ex to play on the ambivalence or outright hostility that kids have to a remarriage, especially at the beginning. An ex can have you talking about him every day.”

He paints a real-life scenario. A husband and wife with two children get divorced. The man marries a new wife and acquires a new house, where the thermostat is kept lower than in the ex’s house. The kids pay a visit to their very loving father and when they return home the mother asks them what the house was like. They mention they felt cold. The ex wife calls her ex-husband demanding changes in the way he lives. The new spouse feels powerless in her own home; she can’t do anything. She gets mad at her husband because she thinks he’s not standing up to his ex.

If there are kids, partners to a remarriage don’t get a developmental period as couple before they’re parents —and then, because it takes time for family feelings to develop, that bond is immediately under assault by the children. For that reason especially, every family expert recommends that couples heading into remarriage prolong the period of courtship despite the desire and the financial incentives to merge households.

Even non-custody can pose problems. “Custody is a legal solution,” says Stahmann. “It implies nothing about the emotional reality of family. There are emotional obligations to children you may not have custody of.” A parent who shares custody or one who has only visitation rights is already experiencing some degree of loss regarding the children.

And the children themselves are in a state of post-divorce mourning over the loss of a “perfect” family and the loss of full-time connection to a parent . No matter which parent a child is with, someone’s missing all the time. That’s the starting position. “This sadness is often not recognized by the adults,” says Emily Visher, Ph.D. “But it leads to upset, depression, and resentment at the new marriage.” The resentment is typically compounded by the fact that the children don’t have the same perspective as the adults on how and why their parents’ marriage broke up. And the remarriage further deprives them of the custodial parent who’d been theirs alone for a time.

Financial obligations add more stress. Money is usually a finite resource and the outflow of money to another household is often a source of dispute in a remarriage. The flow of money within the household can be divisive as well. Many a stepfather thinks: ‘I don’t want to be putting my money into your kids’ college education when I didn’t put it into mine.’

“There’s an existential, moral dimension to remarriage families that’s not talked about,” says Minnesota’s Doherty. “The partners will always be in different emotional and relational positions to the children. One is till death do us part. The other is till divorce do us part. The stepparent harbors a deep wish that the children didn’t exist, the very same children the parent couldn’t live without.” And these are the complications even before getting into the difficult management issues of who’s in charge, who disciplines the children, and what strategies of discipline are used.

People need to develop “a deep empathic understanding of the different emotional world’s parent and stepparent occupy.” To be a stepparent, Doherty adds, “is to never be fully at home in your own house in relation to the children, while the original parent feels protective and defensive of the children. Neither ‘gets’ it until each describes what the emotional world is for him or her.” Each partner is always an outsider to the experience of the other.

The role of the non-biological parent is crucial —but fuzzy. “Twenty plus years into the divorce revolution and remarriage is an incomplete institution,” observes Andrew Cherlin, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s not clear what rules a stepparent should follow.” In successful families, the stepparent is somewhere between a friend and a parent, what he calls “the kindly uncle role.” Using a first name, rather than assuming the title of parent, goes a long way to giving the relationship the necessary friendship cast.

“The more a remarriage couple can agree on expected roles,” says Carlos S. Costelo, the more satisfied they will be. A Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kansas, Costelo is virtually the first psychologist to study the dynamics of remarriage. “There are lots of built-in ambiguities. ‘What am I supposed to do?’ ‘How am I supposed to discipline the kids?’ ‘How much money do I allocate for her kids?’ ‘How much time do we spend with her family at Christmas?’ The inability to come to consensus interferes with intimacy and commitment.”

Beyond Selfishness: “The key to remarriage,” says Stahmann, “is that couples need to be less selfish than they used to be. They have to realize there’s a history of something that came before. They can’t indulge jealousy by cutting off contact with kids. They can’t cut off history.” Selfishness, he insists, is the biggest reasons for failure of remarriage.

“The dynamics of remarriage are fascinating,” notes Doherty. “We all have a lot to learn. Remarriage families hold the secrets to all marriage. Remarriage with stepchildren illuminates the divergent needs and loyalties that are always present but often invisible in original families.”

It Takes a Village? Really! With so much vulnerability, and the well-being of so many people at stake, prospective partners to a remarriage need a little help from others. “The impression of family and friends on whether this remarriage will work is important,” says Stahmann.

Pat Love, herself in a remarriage, couldn’t be more emphatic. “You’ve got to do it by consensus. It takes a village. You’ve got to listen to friends. You’re in an altered state by way of infatuation. The failure factor is there, making you so fragile.”

In fact, Stahmann contends, the opinion of family members and friend is predictive of remarriage success. “Friends and family know a lot. They know who you are. They knew you married, and they can see how you’re in the context of the new relationship.” The trick is to listen to them.

Hara Marano wrote this piece for Psychology Today where she’s editor at large, after attending the 1999 Smart Marriages conference. This is from the Smart Marriages web site under “Step Families.” Even though they aren’t a Christian web site it still has articles that line up with Biblical standards. You may want to go to their web site to read other things they have posted on their web site.


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72 Responses to “DIVORCED? Don’t Remarry Until You Read This”
  1. Rachel says:

    (USA)  I found this article very helpful. My only concern I have as I venture towards remarriage is that not only is there an age difference between myself and the man I am in a relationship with, but his children are in their twenties and early thirties… I have found them to be the most difficult in regards to our marriage. It has been such a stressor on him that he just came to me about postponing our January wedding. My question is do you have more information on how to integrate our families when there are older children involved? Thanks so much for all the information. I find that I am greedily reading everything on your website.

    • Bridget says:

      (AUSTRALIA) Oh rachel, my heart goes out to you. Unfortunately this is a very grey area. Is your partner a widower or is he just divorced? Widowship is often harder as they say no one could ever replace my mother and they are grieving as well for the loss. Divorce is easier because they still have their mum around and can still connect with her. No situation is easy and in what ways do your future step-children not accept you? The age difference could be seen as well she is not much older than us and she is with my dad I just cannot see this situation as good so they start to judge you and do not see the amazing person that has come into their dads life.

      Try having a family get-together but first your partner has to make a stand and say I love this woman and even though she is younger I am happy and she will never replace your mother. They need to know that their dad still loves them and will always be there for them no matter what happens same as if you have children.

      If you need to talk I am here and will try and help if I can.

  2. Moji says:

    (NAIJA)  This is quite a helpful site! Separation and divorce are realities that are here with us. Finding helpful tips to deal with it as a Christian is very essential. Thank you.

  3. Iyer says:

    (INDIA)  Please tell me about reconciliation after a second marriage.

  4. Lester says:

    (BARBADOS)  This topic is vast and sensitive. In reading the article I think it is easier to save one’s first marriage than go for a second. Too much has to be done. I would like those who are counselling on marriage to understand the seriousness of it and pass it on to those being counseled. Many people marry for the wrong reasons thus, when those reasons have not materialized serious problems start.

    Marriage is from God. Adam and Eve were married, had a perfect environment but simple disobedience to their maker plunged the human family into turmoil, inclusive of our marriages. The misunderstanding of love also is a problem. Love is not a feeling, it is an act of your will. Love is not sex, money, fashion etc. Get to know the originator of marriage and he’ll teach you how to love, how to choose the right, not perfect partner –a partner who too has come into contact with the author of the greatest marriage book volume ever written, THE BIBLE. READ THE FOLLOWING: 1 Corinthians 13; Ephesians 5; Hebrews 13:4. Enjoy!!!!!!!!!

    • Dedra says:

      (BARBADOS) Lester I agree. Very well put. This helps me to articulate this position better. Thanks.

    • Tony says:

      (USA) Lester, I guess you’ve never tried to save a marriage where your wife is having an affair, has left the church, the church will not confront her, her family thinks it’s ok to walk out on your vows, her friends are all cheering her on and the courts don’t give a rip about marital fidelity. They just give the kids to mom.

      Combine that with the fact that God doesn’t force anyone to change their ways. No matter how many hours you pray for your wayward spouse, if she wants to continue her affair and divorce, God will not force her to end her affair and drop the divorce and you’ll see that saving the marriage is in fact the most difficult option. Not saying one shouldn’t try it. I did. But it was a fruitless exercise and by no means easy.

    • Jeff from United States says:

      Lester, The way you talk, you act like everyone is in the middle of getting divorced. What’s your great vast wisdom say for those of us who have already gone through one? Believe it or not it doesn’t always work out so nice and perfect like you so arrogantly speak of it. I love how people like you point out how many people get married for the “wrong reasons.” I’ve never seen anyone get married in pure perfect way you speak of; they are either too young or have been married before or they were too lonely and rushed in etc.

      I am still looking for this mythical perfect married couple every speaks of, that dis every single thing absolutely correct! Point them out so I can sit in awe of them and wish I could be like them. Try giving some advice instead of just saying what the Bible says, repeating it and not giving any clarification since you are so well versed on the issue…

  5. Jennifer says:

    (USA)  I found this article to be extremely informative and insightful. My first husband of 16 years, left our two children and myself 4 years ago. He filed for divorced and promptly remarried. I met someone and dated for ten months and we became engaged. Our engagement last 2 1/2 years.

    During the 3 years of our courtship, my betrothed and I, discussed his first marriage and mine in detail. What did we each do wrong? What did we think was expected? What did we expected? What did we contributed to the failure of the marriage? And most importantly, what did we learn?

    The lessons learned have been amazing, the process of stopping and thinking before I say these words, or as he does, watch the body language. So even when I say “Ok,” he stops and says, “You say ok, but your crossed arms and divereted eye contact are telling me it is not. Let’s back track.” I have learned how to listen and how to communicate positively –to support and encourage as well as accept that which might be important to him which is not to me, but still can be joyous for him in his adventure of life.

    I know the statistics for second marriages to be successful is not very high. But I believe when two people learn from the past and take that knowledge and apply it to the future than growth has been made and success will be achieved.

    As for my children, they are now teenagers and have decided that they want to live with their father. I miss them terribly, but I am happy that they are developing a relationship him. He is now divorced from his second wife and has promptly remarried again. I wish he would read this article.

  6. Natasha says:

    (US)  Scripture is very clear not to remarry. I have asked this question many times and all the answers I’ve received have not given me peace in my heart. God wants you to be happy does not cut it. I really hope to find peace about this.

    Matthew 5:32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 To the married I give this command (not I but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

    These are unpopular scriptures and it’s hard to find teaching on it. I’ve been told that yes I can remarry that I am forgiven for divorce. I get that I’m forgiven but that does not mean I can go and sin intentionally because I will be forgiven again when I openly defy what God says about getting remarried. How can I get remarried and defy God’s word yet ask for His favor and blessing over a new marriage? If I did remarry why do I have to adhere to God’s word about him being a Christian or equally yoked? (1 Cor 7:39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.) If I can ignore one part of scripture why can’t I ignore another part? My ex didn’t die and he didn’t commit adultery, we weren’t getting along and we got divorced, in fact I’m the one that filed.

    I have been divorced for ten years, the thought of spending the rest of my life alone is not appealing. The thought of thumbing my nose at God and ignoring his word to satisfy my want is not appealing either, it would grieve my heart.

    Please help and back up your thoughts with specific scripture as to why God’s word about remarriage is no longer valid in today’s world. Sincerely seeking, Natasha

    • Sandria says:

      (USA) Natasha, There are indeed 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal! Though your choice be a hard one, what a glorious crown you will receive for your obedience to His word, and not the ‘get your happy now Christianity’ we are unfortunately bombarded with within the church today. So few see, or shall I say, want to see. Oh that I could find those around me who jealously guard, and obey His commandments. Keep at it, He’s worth it! Sandy

    • Dianne says:

      (USA) Did you marry your first husband as a believer? Had you accepted Christ into your life? If so, were you unequally yoked as he departed from the marriage? 2 Corinthians 6:14 (KJV) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

      There’s scripture concerning an unbeliever leaving the marriage with a believer. I think it’s in the Old Testament? It states that it’s okay to let them go. Forgive me, I’m a very new believer and don’t have scripture memorized… as I should. Jesus answers His disciples when asked about divorce: Matthew 19:9 (KJV) And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

      Jesus offers an exception: Fornication. Many marriages (even Christian marriages) end due to infidelity. It’s a shame that many Christians overlook this verse stated by our Lord himself. With the exception of Job, I know of no person whom God has directly commanded to endure the heartbreak and distrust of an unfaithful spouse. Our Lord has given us this merciful exception in His Word.

      Also, if you were not a believer, then most likely you did not rely on God to choose your husband for you. You chose your husband yourself, using your own guidelines. You worked outside of God’s will… as He allows us to do with our own free will. The scriptures clearly state that the unions that God joins together should remain…not the unions that we, ourselves join together. Mark 10:9 (KJV) What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Matthew 19:6 (KJV)
      Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

      I hope this helps. I had so many doubts about remarriage, especially after accepting Christ into my life. I prayed and prayed, asking God for direction. Even though our former spouses were unfaithful, and we were unbelievers when we first married, I was willing to break up with the man I loved if God showed me that it was His will for me to remain single. A couple days later, a woman came into the shop where I worked and delivered the scripture of Mark 10:9 to me in a different light. I believe it was an answer to my prayers. Even so, being a new believer, it’s clear to me that if two believers marry and there’s no infidelity to break the union, there should be no divorce.

      Even remarriage that can be considered within God’s will is going to be difficult. There is very little support within the established family structure (especially step children) and even less support to be found within the church (especially fundamental churches). We need fundamental churches to understand the scriptures FULLY and apply them accordingly, not just pick and choose scriptures that fit into their own legalistic boxes.

      Children entangled in a remarriage situation need support and sympathy too. But they also need a cold, hard lesson on consciousness and selflessness. We’re all born with a wicked heart and children are no exception. Many children are used by the devil as tools to break up a remarriage, knowingly playing the role of martyr and trying to come between the parent and stepparent. It’s something that should be understood and addressed as a need for direction and discipline, especially within a Christian family structure. If a child continually refuses to respect a stepparent due to their own selfishness and rebelliousness, how are they going to treat others outside of the family?

      Pray like a warrior. Our Lord is faithful and will answer those who are faithful, obedient and humble themselves before Him. God bless you and all those who want to love and be loved as Jesus loved the church.

    • Oba from United States says:

      If you are a Christian, the only way out is for you to be reconciled to your husband. God does not support divorce. Reconcile with your husband and keep enjoying the company of your kids. Bless you. Natasha just nailed it. Period, that’s the truth.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    (NIGERIA)  Natasha (USA), You are right. from my own understanding of scriptures. I don’t think it’s right to remarry after a divorce. I admire your courage in acknowledging this hard truth and I pray the grace of God guides you through your decisions so that you find peace and joy.

  8. Mo says:

    (UK)  Natasha, I too think that you are correct. God’s Word is very clear on the subject. Once a couple is married, they are joined together for ever, they become one person.

    My husband may have divorced me in the eyes of the law. I fought this every inch, and was showered, and I mean showered, with superabundance in every sphere as I did so. I knew then, as I do now, that he was confused. I shredded the papers when they arrived, and told everyone this.

    He remarried. Oh dear. What a mess. I am constantly apologising to God for smiling (on one level) about this. Now he is telling everyone that this has been a horrendous mistake, and the only woman he could ever love is guess who?

    Fact is, I do not attribute any standing whatsoever to this ‘remarriage’. Neither, in his true heart, does my husband, and most importantly, neither does God. I am not angry in the least, because I understand what is at the root of his confusion, lack of logical reasoning, and extremely poor judgement. It is a root of evil. This evil root has to be pulled up, although the process will not be easy, but, there again, neither is any other alternative.

    I do not believe that a new ‘marriage’ cancels out the first. I think that is nonsense, and this is so even if children arrive. I am sitting in wait, observing as events unfold.

    I am sorry if these thoughts offend anyone who has embarked on a second marriage, as you may have a different interpretation of the Scriptures, and I wish you every blessing. However, the above thoughts certainly hold true for my husband and I.

    Please do pray that no harm comes to anyone in this complicated and absolutely unGodly situation. Thank you.

    • Ed says:

      (USA)  If your husband divorced you and has another wife, he cannot take you back and remarry you, his first wife according to these scriptures:

      Deu 24:1 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house,
      Deu 24:2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man,
      Deu 24:3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies,
      Deu 24:4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

      • Paul says:

        (USA) “The deliberate contrast in Jeremiah 3:1 between the law that Moses laid down for the Israelites in Deuteronomy 24 and God’s own behavior towards His wife points out that the New Testament Church must not determine her marriage doctrine and practice from Deuteronomy 24.” -Professor David J. Engelsma

        The Bond Yet Unbroken: The first verse of Jeremiah 3 proves, in a striking, indeed, startling way, that God was still MARRIED to DIVORCED Israel. To Israel who had “played the harlot with many lovers” and whom God had already divorced, according to verse eight, God called, “Yet return again to me.” This was a call to His wife, as verse one makes plain: “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? Shall not that land be greatly polluted? But thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.”

        Whereas it was not permitted in Israel for a wife divorced from her husband and remarried to another man to return to her first husband, God called His wife back to Himself, even though she had committed adultery with many companions and even though God had divorced her. Divorced Israel REMAINED the wife of the LORD.

        What is striking, even startling, about this insistence on the maintenance of the marriage and on Israel’s return to her rightful husband is the contrast between God’s marriage to Israel and a law governing the earthly marriages of the Israelites. Verse one refers to the law concerning divorce and remarriage in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 forbade a husband who had divorced his wife, on some other ground than her adultery, to take her back, if a second husband divorced her, or died. God, however, will take His wife back, even though she gave herself to many lovers and despite the fact that He had given her a bill of divorce.

        The law of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was merely Moses’ tolerance of deviation from God’s original ordinance of marriage on the part of hard-hearted Israelite men. It was a stop-gap measure, somewhat to protect vulnerable women, who otherwise would have been passed around like property. This was Christ’s analysis of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, and indictment of the kind of people for whom the law was necessary, in Matthew 19:8: “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives.”

        Deuteronomy 24 does not reveal the truth about marriage, divorce, and remarriage. It reveals the wickedness in marriage of hard-hearted, that is, unbelieving, men. The truth about marriage, already in the Old Testament, is revealed in Jeremiah 3:1: Even though He must divorce an unfaithful wife, God MAINTAINED the marriage and CALLED His wife back to Himself. Verse fourteen of Jeremiah 3 is decisive, and explicit, regarding the question, whether God divorced an original wife so as to annul the marriage and open the way for Himself to marry another.

        Addressing faithless, divorced Israel, Jehovah exclaimed, “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am MARRIED unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” Although His wife was unfaithful, although she committed adultery with numerous lovers, although she was as yet impenitent, and although God had divorced her, God was STILL her husband, and she was STILL His wife. The bill of divorce did not touch, much less dissolve, the marriage bond: “I am MARRIED unto you.”

        Indeed, the fact of the marriage is the reason why God called Israel back, as it is the reason why she ought to come back, to live with Him: “For I am married unto you.” -Professor David J. Engelsma

      • Sharon says:

        (USA) Yes you can return to your covenant spouse even if there has been an intervening marriage. The reason why the first wife could not return to her first husband is because of the word UNCLEANNESS. In Hebrew ERWAT. What does it mean? NAKEDNESS. Nakedness is used for uncovering or nudity. It is shameful except in the context of a real One Flesh Marriage and is blessed. But if it is in the context of NEAR KIN, it is shameful and against the commandment of God (erwat dabar). NAKEDNESS is used 31 times in Leviticus 18 and 20 for INCEST. The first husband divorced his wife for erwat dabar, incest. That is why he could not take her back. A Covenant One Flesh Couple must return to each other, for God has yoked them together. He made 2 into 1, never to be 2 again. Return! God said to Israel. Return to your first love.

  9. Giovanni says:

    (USA)  I am at a crossroads myself. I am about to get divorce, waiting on the final decree. It was/is my first marriage and my stbx’s second. I have read virtually everything in this regard and I have come to one conclusion. I am still confused.

    On one hand the Bible is clear about it. Go and sin no more. So many say that to remain in a remarriage is continuous sin, that God will not and CANNOT bless a second marriage that is considered adulterous.

    Well, the question is… is my marriage a non covenant marriage? If she was divorced, does that mean that I am allowed to remarry since I never was before? Should I stand for this marriage, because I DID make a covenant with God and brought a child into the world? Should I stay single for the rest of my life?

    Tough questions. The problem is that there are so many biblical points of view. I pray daily for Godly guidance. I know I will get it… just maybe not the answer I wanted or in the time frame I was hoping. All I know is this… Satan is laughing like crazy.

  10. Artist says:

    (USA)  I think this is a well-written article! I met my ex husband right out of high school when I was not living for the Lord. We married 2 years later when I was 20. At age 32 I recommitted my life to the Lord and have been living for him since that time. Unfortunately, my ex continued on the path of alcohol and drugs. I stayed for 26 years and basically functioned as a single mother of three children. My children were raised going to church and Sunday school, youth group and I was a part of every aspect of their lives (as much cannot be said of their dad) who was usually absent or passed out. I endured terrible verbal abuse for many years.

    I prayed constantly and sought only God’s direction in this matter. I know God released me from this situation 5 years ago. My youngest child was 15. I became separated (I left) and knew this would either make or break the marriage. Would my then husband work on making the changes needed to save our marriage? He did not. He had a woman move in with him before our divorce was final. She drinks as much or more than he does. Our divorce was final three years ago.

    I have been told more hurtful things from well meaning “Christians” about divorce and remarriage. I have seen and heard much, but not much that resembles the God and Jesus I know and love (of grace and mercy and forgiveness). I know God hates divorce. But Christ died once and for all for all sin past and present. If we truly repent and ask God’s forgiveness we can be assured we have it. Sin is sin to God -he does not catagorize sin. Gossip is sin. Lying is sin. Haughtiness is sin, etc. All fall short …it is only Christ’s righteousness that makes us acceptable to God.

    By the grace of God, I met a wonderful, Godly man. I knew his character and integrity for several years before he ever asked me to go for coffee. This man’s wife left him and filed for divorce 2 yrs before we met. She is bipolar and he endured an awful life for 26 years as well. We have talked about what did we each did wrong? What did we think was expected? What did we expect? What did we do that contributed to the failure of the marriage? And most importantly, what did we learn? (Questions from Jennifer’s post.)

    Most importantly, God is #1 in our lives, and was long before we met each other. We both loved and followed God for many years. Time is on your side. Do not rush into anything. Make sure all the issues with grown children are resolved. If you are marrying someone because you do not want to be alone, or for financial security, or are looking to this person for your happiness -it would be a mistake. We must be happy alone and with God as our (husband) 1st. Our grown children (27, 24, 21, 19, 18) have met and enjoy each other’s company and they like the other person we are considering remarrying. Each the details of each individual divorce must be looked at. You cannot lump all divorces into 1 catagory and make a pat judgment against those involved. There are too many factors in every single marriage that ended in divorce.

    On the comment in the article, “Selfishness, he insists, is the biggest reasons for failure of remarriage.” I would say that Selfishness, is also the biggest reaons for failure of 1st marriage!” Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

    • Paul says:

      (USA) “Not very long ago, a woman-friend wrote to me saying, “I asked a pastor friend of mine what he thinks about remarriage after divorce. His answer was, ‘The gospel is about grace, and grace means you can re-marry without shame.'” That is NOT true!

      How Grace Does Not Stop Remarriage from Being Sin by Myron Horst

      The topic of the church granting a remarried couple grace often comes up with the subject of divorce and remarriage. The argument that the church can grant a remarried couple grace to continue in their remarriage relationship has become a stumbling block for many. To understand grace better, I did an in-depth study of grace in the Bible. I found some interesting facts. The main fact is that grace is from God. Most of the verses in the New Testament that use the word grace also state that it is from God or Jesus. Nowhere is there any verse that the church has any authority to grant another grace for their sins. We can bless another with God’s grace, but not from us.

      When the church grants another person grace in a sin area so that the sin is no longer viewed as sin, the church is setting themselves up as God and making the church equal with God. This line of thinking has occurred before in Jeremiah 7:9-10: “Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?”

      They thought they had received grace to continue in their sins but they had not. Grace is not an allowance to sin a little more than what the Bible says. Grace is not a license from God or the church for one to continue in sin as many would lead us to believe. Grace is not God overlooking our sin as we continue to sin after we know better. Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6:15 “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

      There is no grace for those who willfully continue to sin and don’t want to stop or change because it would be “too difficult”. God’s grace is not a license to do what is right in one’s own eyes, and follow one’s own beliefs, even if it is contrary to Scripture. Who forgives sin? Can Christians grant forgiveness for sin against God? No. We can only grant forgiveness for offences to us. We cannot grant a person grace for offences that they are committing against God when they have not repented to God and stopped their sin. When Jesus through grace forgave the woman caught in adultery, He also told her to do something. He said “go and sin no more!” Jesus did not give the woman grace so that she could continue to commit adultery. Jesus told her she had to stop committing adultery.

      When a divorced and remarried couple repents and receives forgiveness from God for the adultery that they have committed, they must change so that they can also obey Jesus’ command to go and sin no more. If they go on sinning and committing adultery they will not receive God’s grace but rather incur His judgment. There cannot be grace and mercy without justice.

      When a person realizes that they have sinned by divorcing their spouse and remarrying another, and they go to God and confess their sin and FORSAKE their sin of remarriage (get out of the remarriage / which is an adulterous relationship in God’s sight), God forgives them. It is only through the grace of God that they receive forgiveness. Without God’s grace none of us would be saved because we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. “A wife is married to her husband as long as he lives.” -1 Corinthians 7:39 Find the TRUTH at:

      • Jonah says:

        (US) Yes, remarriage is a sin but NONE of us live a life free of sin. So, by the above reasoning we should all be condemned. Or do you believe God shows mercy for some sins but not others? But then how would you know what is forgivable and what isn’t? Is there scripture somewhere that divides all sin into those two categories? No, of course not. So this is my advice: know that you are fallible, that you have and will sin and with that knowledge offer yourself up to the grace of God everyday and devote yourself to loving Him ceaselessly. That is the best you or any of us can do.

        • Denise says:

          (US) I divorced my spouse based on Matthew 19, but then the Holy Spirit took me to scripture to show me that God hates divorce and that remarriage to someone other than your covenant spouse is adultery. In Matthew 19, Jesus clearly says “except it be for fornication,” but how can your spouse commit fornication on you? They cannot. I went back to the Hebrew Bible and Jesus clearly said pornea, which is translated as fornication and then mocheia, which is adultery. Since fornication is sex between single persons and adultery is sex between persons with at least one of them being married to another person, then Jesus clearly could not be saying that you can divorce your spouse because they committed fornication on you.

          What he is talking about relates to Deuteronomy 22, in reference to when a man marries a woman who he thinks is a virgin and after the consumation of the marriage he finds out that she had committed fornication on him; then and only then can he divorce her, just as his stepfather Joseph was about to divorce his mother, Mary. Jewish women were betrothed at a young age and were expected to be virgins until they were married so when Jesus says, “except it be for fornication,” he is referring to the Jewish tradition.

          Now, if you are a gentile and you marry a woman who you thought was a virgin and she is not then you have a right to divorce her. Also, Apostle Paul clearly says in Romans 7:2-3 that only death ends the covenant of marriage and that as long as the woman’s first husband lives and she marries another that she is an adulteress until her first husband dies and then she is released from that law. The marriage covenant does not end until death; that is why we say “til death do us part.” Jesus even says that from the beginning it was not so, but Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. Also, in 1 Corinthians 7, Apostle Paul tells the unmarried and the widows that if they cannot contain themselves then it is better to marry than to burn. He then said unto the married, I, but not I, but the Lord commands that they do not depart, but if they do to remain unmarried or reconcile. He did not say that grace would cover a remarriage to someone else, as he had already stated in Romans 7 that it is adultery until the first spouse dies.

          In Galatians 5, Apostle Paul clearly states that those who practice adultery would not enter the kingdom. Jude 4 says that people in the church would distort grace and turn it into lewdness/lasciviousness/sexual sins. Why, because people would be remarry into adultery and think that grace had covered this marriage because the church does not teach that second marriages other than to the first spouse is adultery because most clergy are divorced and remarried into adultery so they would have to admit that they are living in sin and on their way to hell, as well as unrepentant sinners.

          God gave a command to Adam and Eve not to eat from the garden and Satan used the serpent to deceive Eve by twisting the words of God so that she believed that God really did not mean what he said and Satan is still doing the same thing today, deceiving us to believing that the Lord really did not mean what he said and that we can now divorce our covenant spouses and remarry someone else, because he really does not want us to be miserable in our marriages; but God could not change Jesus’ brutal death on the cross because his word had gone forth, so if he could not be a liar for Christ then he definitely will not be a liar for us.

  11. Suni says:

    (INDIA)  I am married to a divorcee. It’s my absolute foolishness to get married to a divorcee in spite of aware of the contact with his ex and also grown up children. It’s not that I do not know the consequences of getting married to him, moreover I was not very comfortable for years to these kinds of relationships (fact is that I also underwent the trauma when my father remarried after 7 years of my mother’s death), but I was just blinded by some unknown force at that time to get him married.

    As expected, all the stories became reality concerning his ex: he was not prepared for a second marriage (it’s only his physical need and high expectations that demanded another marriage), he was not mentally out of the love with his ex (as she divorced him), he was not sensitive in handling /balancing both the relationships. When I am deeply hurt I have to object him contacting his ex. This made him get angry with me and instead of being loyal to this marriage and having gratitude for me for marrying him though it’s my first marriage, he ended up increasing contact with his ex (who already felt jealous for his remarriage and felt left out).

    Initially, it was very hurtful for me (torture by my MIL is added to the misery) and I feel like getting away from the situation. So, my transfer to his place didn’t work out and I have to choose my job first. In my absence their contact became too much and now they have decided to re-marry and live together. Since, I am not ready to divorce, he agreed for me to live with my MIL (who literally helped me to save my marriage and my status realising her mistake at the initial stages) and we three stay together. But his ex makes a house nearby where we are going to stay and he keeps going to her. As he says, he depended more on her than me, so he wants her close to him.

    I am a God fearing woman. I do not want to commit any sin by separating them. But at the same time I cannot control my resistance to her and can’t imagine my uneasy condition once we all start facing the reality. In this process I know that I will not get any cooperation from him. I can’t imagine stepping out of our marriage. Anyway, at this moment my mind is not firm. So, I haven’t made a decision.

    • Karen says:

      (UNITED STATES) You need to let him go. He only used you to get his ex wife back. You need to think about what brought you to marrying him? I would just leave him and find myself someone else who has never been married before. I was married to an Indian man and I left him. He remarried but at the same time he told me that he still loved me and he would always love me. Please don’t be his puppet.

  12. Joann says:

    (U.S.)  Natasha, Mo and Elizabeth, I am in complete agreement with your interpretation of Scripture. It doesn’t matter what anyone says or thinks; God is clear and unambiguous in His Word about remarriage – we are unable to do so if our spouses are still alive, as He tells us in I Cor 7. And Matthew and Mark tell us how it’s adultery if we do remarry.

    How can churches leave this HUGE part of Scripture out of their teachings? Divorced people get remarried constantly at “Christian” churches in spite of what God has told us! How this works out on judgment day will be a disaster for many.

  13. Gloria says:

    (USA) As a step and biological Mom, and the author of a book on stepfamilies which included not only my own experience but research with stepfamily authorities and other stepfamilies, I am aware, all to often, of the high rate of divorce among these families. One reason is that there are no understood guidelines for these families. Society tends to apply the rules of first marriages, while ignoring the complexities of stepfamilies.

    A little clarification: In a stepfamily the child(ren) is of one co-parent; in a blended family, there are children from both co-parents; and, virtually all family members have recently experienced a primary relationship loss.

    The Landmines

    Three potential problem areas are: Financial burdens, Role ambiguity, and the Children’s Negative Feelings when they don’t want the new family to “work.” Husbands sometimes feel caught between the often impossible demands of their former family and their present one. Some second wives also feel resentful about the amount of income that goes to the husband’s first wife and family.

    Legally, the stepparent has no prescribed rights or duties, which may result in tension, compromise, and role ambiguity. Another complication of role ambiguity is that society seems to expect acquired parents and children to instantly love each other. In reality, this is often just not the case.

    The third reason for a difficult stepparent-child relationship might be that a child does not want this marriage to work, and so, acts out with hostility, since children commonly harbor fantasies that their biological parents will reunite. Stepchildren can prove hostile adversaries, and this is especially true for adolescents.

    Stepmother Anxiety

    Clinicians say that the role of stepmother is more difficult than that of stepfather, because stepmother families may more often be born of difficult custody battles and/or particularly troubled family relations. Society is also contradictory in expecting loving relationships between stepmothers and children while, at the same time, portraying stepmothers as cruel and even abusive (Snow White, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel are just a few bedtimestories we are all familiar with).

    Stepfather Anxiety

    Men who marry women with children come to their new responsibilities with a mixed bag of emotions, far different from those that make a man assume responsibility for his biological children. A new husband might react to an “instant” family with feelings which range from admiration to fright to contempt.

    The hidden agenda is one of the first difficulties a stepfather runs into: The mother or her children, or both, may have expectations about what he will do, but may not give him a clear picture of what those expectations are. The husband may also have a hidden agenda. A part of the stepchildren’s hidden agenda is the extent to which they will let the husband play father.

    The key is for everyone to work together. The husband, wife, their stepchildren, and their non-custodial biological parent can all negotiate new ways of doing things by taking to heart and incorporating the information you are about to learn—the most positive alternative for everyone.

    One Day at a Time

    Now you have a pretty good feel for what everyone is going through. How do you start to make it better –a process that can take years? First you must be very clear about what you want and expect from this marriage and the individuals involved, including yourself. What are you willing to do? In a loving and positive way, now is the time to articulate, negotiate, and come to an agreement on your expectations and about how you and your partner will behave.

    The best marriages are flexible marriages, but how can you be flexible if you do not know what everyone needs right now. And, this may change over time, so there must be room for that to happen as well. In flexible marriages partners are freer to reveal the parts of their changing selves that no longer fit into their old established patterns. You couldn’t possibly have known at the beginning of your new family what you know now and will learn later.

    Spouses may feel the “conflict taboo” even more than in a first marriage. It is understandable that you want to make this marriage work. You might feel too “battle-scarred” to open “a can of worms.” And so, you gloss over differences that need airing and resolution—differences over which you may not have hesitated to wage war in your first marriage. Avoiding airing your differences is a serious mistake. It is important for you to understand your own and your partner’s needs because society hasn’t a clue how stepfamilies should work. Unless you talk about your expectations, they are likely to be unrealistic.

    Living Well

    Since roughly one third of stepfamilies do survive —even thrive —we know that stepfamilies can grow the safety, support, and comfort that only healthy families provide. Consider the following for living your step/blended family life well:

    You must assess, as a couple, how well you accept and resolve conflicts with each other and key others. Learn and steadily work to develop verbal skills: listen with empathy, effectively show your needs, and problem-solve together. The emotional highs of new love can disguise deep disagreement on parenting, money, family priorities, and home management, i.e., values that will surface after the wedding.

    Together, accept your prospective identity as a normal, unique, multi-home stepfamily. You need to admit and resolve strong disagreements, well enough for positive results.

    You must balance and co-manage all of these tasks well enough on a daily basis to: build a solid, high-priority marriage; enjoy your kids; and, to keep growing emotionally and spiritually as individual people.

    Know and take comfort in the fact that confidant stepfamily adult teams (not simply couples), can provide the warmth, comfort, inspiration, support, security—and often (not always) the love—that adults and kids long for.

    Gloria Lintermans is the author of The Secrets to Stepfamily Success

  14. Cheryl says:

    (USA) Does Deuteronomy 24, The Law of Moses Prohibit Returning To The First Spouse?

  15. YAS says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA) What does the ex-wife do when the father of their 7 year old child who lives abroad, gets engaged and suddenly stops calling his child, and ignores all attempts by the child to make contact…does still financially support his child though.

  16. Derrick says:

    (USA) I am in the military and my wife recently left me for my best friend… needless to say we are not friends anymore. We have 3 children together 8, 6, and 2 years old. About a year before him and my ex wife got together his second wife cheated on him and during that time my then wife and him were talking and I thought nothing of it, because I trusted her. She was just helping him as was I.

    His wife moved away with his 2 kids for a seperation trial and I deployed. While I was deployed my wife told me she wanted a divorce and loved him… I was completely devastated and had to return home because I was an emotional wreck. I did everything I could to try and salvage our marriage. I loved her and I still do. I deeply yearn for her to come back as I will never love another again the way I do her and that is why I will never remarry.

    Her and I split custody one week on and one week off. He divorced his wife after the affair and everyone is divorced. He has been married twice already and has two kids. The pain in my heart will not stop and I cannot seem to stop loving my ex wife. My love for her is unconditional and I would take her back in a second. Before I got back from my deployment both of them had already been discussing moving away together in a year when he gets restationed and now that they are living together this seems likely.

    I love her so much, but I love my kids more. I feel so hopeless. God must think I’m pretty strong to handle all of this, but I really don’t know. She has always been a great mother to our kids, so I would never try and get 100% sole custody of them because they need her as much as they need me… I am struggling!!

    • Sandria says:

      (USA) Derrick, so very sorry you are going through this very dark and tumultuous storm. I do not have much on advice, but I do encourage you to draw from God’s word, and spend much time under the shelter of His wings. There’s a verse from an old hymn I love to sing, ‘hidden in the hollow of His perfect hand, never foe can follow, never traitor stand; not a surge of worry, not a shade of care, not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.’

      He knows firsthand how it feels to be betrayed, and rejected. Turn to Him who loves you with an everlasting love. Let Him be your comfort, and your guide through this. He said he would never leave us nor forsake us. You have to believe that. I will be praying for you, and your precious children. Hard to understand when those we love most choose the damaging lure of sin. Pray for your wife’s soul, for she is in danger. This is a war, we have an enemy, and his goal is to kill, steal and destroy. Faint not!

  17. Bridg says:

    (CANADA) Much of this article is true. There are challenges in divorce, challenges in post divorce relations, and difficult situations to manage and pass through with ex-friends, inlaws, and children. However, to assume that people do not learn from first marriages is unfair.

    Much of this article assumes that people just ‘start over’ with the same expectations as they had the first time around, and I, for one, don’t believe that people are that stupid (for lack of a better word). Remarrying is as difficult as marrying the first time. If it fails more often, I would guess it’s usually because of the following: 1) People try harder the first time around, since there is more to lose. 2) Children are usually born of first marriages, so again, another reason to stay and 3) second time around, we recognize sooner whether it was ‘meant to be’. Some of us simply need a few chances in order to learn. It doesn’t mean remarrying is bad.

  18. Bonnie says:

    (USA) I have been divorced for 6 years. I divorced my husband for my safety and for my children’s safety. God doesn’t allow a husband to be abusive to wife. The Bible says that a husband shall love his wife as the as same as he loves himself. I have been judged many times with many people. They don’t understand I had to divorce my husband for safety reasons. I have been praying for a really long time for a Godly husband and I am still waiting patiently for that man of God’s own heart like David’s role. What’s your opinion?

    • Cindy Wright says:

      Bonnie, I’m so sorry you and your children suffered as you did because of your husband’s abusive behavior. It was wrong for so many reasons. As for our “opinion” … we believe you did what you needed to do. I would have done the same and I can’t imagine God judging you for this. I have no doubt that He loves you dearly. Your husband is the one who will be judged harshly for treating you and your children in such a horrible way.

      I’m also sorry you have felt judge by others. They have no right and are acting ignorantly. Try as best you can to hold your head up high, knowing that you did the right thing and that you are in good company. Many people falsely judged Jesus and treated Him badly too. His response was, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they’re doing.” I hope you can give grace as He did and when it’s possible, educate those you can, NOT to judge those who who suffer from abuse.

      Bonnie, I pray the Lord blesses you with peace and grace and love that is pure and godly. I pray for your children to somehow find peace in their hearts and their lives and that they will love, love, love their mom for getting them to a place of safety. I pray the Lord helps you, and guides you, and comforts you, and speaks to you, and works in and through you, where you are now living. I also pray God infuses hope into your heart that you will eventually experience better days –ones that will bring a smile to your heart.

      • Bonnie says:

        (USA) I have been trusting in the Lord in everything. I have been a single mom ever since before my daughter’s 3rd birthday and gave birth to my son and raised him for 4 years. I want the best for my children and I want to raise my children up to the Lord, like in Psalms 34. Both my children are very, very in involved in Awana, VBS, Sunday schools.

        After the divorce, my daughter had told me that she had hated her father for what he had done to me and to her. I had told her that we need to pray for him to turn back to God and to forgive him. She has a hard time understanding why he did mean and hurtful things to us. I have been faithful to him, and he wasn’t faithful to me. He had affairs with 2 women during our marriage. I’m letting him go and divorced him because he was very abusive and had almost tried to murder me when I was pregnant with my son. That’s why I divorced him, for safety reasons.

        Things had become very clear and I have been cautious around other people, putting my faith and trust in the Lord. It’s not very easy to be a single mother for 6 years. I made sure that my kids have a safe place to live in, have clothes, and food for them. I even work a part time job to help support my kids. God has been good to all of us and He still is. He is my fortress and my rock and my salvation. I give praises to him and still am waiting patiently for the Lord to bring the right and Godly husband.

    • Jauneoe from United States says:

      This is article is a joke I’m sorry. I don’t care what anybody says NO ONE should EVER stay in an abusive marriage. I was with my abusive husband and had no choice but to nd ivory him, I didn’t see it coming till after marriage, things happen no marriage is perfect and people never change. I prayed so much that one day a big accident occurred that forced me to walk away and that to me was a blessing. This article is honestly ignorant because it is pretty much saying stick with your first marriage; if you don’t even bother getting remarried it will end before it starts. Show me where that perfect marriage is honey, because if it doesn’t work out it just doesn’t work out. Why invest in a marriage where there is all sorts of abuse and children are in the middle? That’s just like saying I want gangrene or have my appendix erupted. Seriously that is crazy! My grandmother was remarried with her husband and they have been together for a lifetime until he passed away.

      • Cindy Wright from United States says:

        Who says in this article that someone should “stay in an abusive marriage?” I don’t see that in this article at all. It just is saying that divorce may look like the best way to “move on” as so many people encourage and claim, but it’s not as easy as that, so people should consider the whole picture. You say that “people never change.” I beg to differ. I’ve seen many change… drastically, in a positive direction. Many don’t, but you can’t put everyone into a box and say that they’re all the same and that every situation is the same –that if the marriage is going in a wrong direction, it won’t work out. That’s not true. Sometimes it is, but many times, with the right help and determination, things can turn around. But to claim that this article encourages people to stay in an abusive marriage shows that you projected your own stuff onto it, with your own agenda to bark out –that you didn’t read it with an open heart and a clear mind. And for that, I’M sorry. You missed the point of what the author is trying to communicate.

  19. Ajju from India says:

    The question I want to ask you is can I marry a girl before her divorce because her husband is ready to give a divorce but he will take too much time for that? She is ready to marry me then shall I marry with him before her divorce? If yes, how can I proceed? Otherwise, help me to take divorce from her husband to she it can be done? Please send me a reply in this case if I am a single?

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Ajju, There is a language barrier here blocking my understanding of all of what you are asking. I’m only sure of the first part of your question. You ask if you can marry a girl before she is divorced. No. It’s as simple as that. She is still married in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of God no matter where her husband’s heart and mind is, concerning divorcing her. If he wants to break covenant with her, then even though she may not be able to (or want to) stop it (because of the laws of today) she is not to push it to marry someone else (you).

      She is not yours to have. You are loving someone who is not yours to love. She is still bound to the vows she made before God to this other man. She should not even be entertaining ideas of being with another man, let alone marrying him (you). Her husband’s sin does not justify her sinning, as well. She should not allow herself to believe the lie that because she hurts so badly because of her damaged relationship with her husband, solutions to cheat and do that which she should not, are acceptable. The same goes for you. No matter what state of disrepair her marriage is in, you should not allow yourself to participate in cheating and doing that, which you should not do. She is married to someone else and you need to back away graciously, no matter what her reaction, and go elsewhere. If you marry her, you will eventually be sorry… very, very sorry. Mark my words. You can’t go against God’s ways and think that you will land in a place of blessing. You both will pay HUGE prices for going forth and doing that, which you should KNOW God would not sanction.

      I hope you will take my words seriously. They are not given in a mean spirit, but one in which I am trying to stop you from continuing down this destructive path. Out of compassion and in truth, I am replying to you in sisterly love. Please don’t do this. You are feeding love you should never have allowed to plant itself into your heart in the first place. As bad as what this is, it’s worse if you keep feeding it and continue on with the plans you have plotted thus far. It will be extremely difficult to turn away from each other because of how far you have both gone down this road, but as difficult as this will be to back away from each other, it will eventually be worse for both of you if you keep doing that which you shouldn’t (and have been warned against doing). Please stop.

      • Allyson from United States says:

        Cindy Wright, Rarely do I read a post so brave. It takes courage to speak the truth and I am so thankful I’m not the only one who views divorce & remarriage as a sin. It’s encouraging to see others speaking out against divorce and warning others of the horrible consequences we’ll face from disobeying God. No one comes through a divorce unscarred.

        My husband blindsided me with a divorce petition on the same day my Dad was killed. Its been nearly 2 years since that day and it’s still hard to accept he could be so cruel & uncaring. It would have hurt no matter what day he served me but losing the most important men in my life on the very same day has been devastating. I’m still grieving & believing! Grieving because the husband I loved and trusted above all others has become the man he said he’d never be. He was more concerned in doing what he was FELT right than doing what WAS right.

        And to make it even worse? He’s the worship leader at his church and his pastor turned a blind eye and allowed him to remain in leadership in direct contradiction to 1 Timothy 3:5 “For if a man cannot take care his own family, how can he take care of God’s church.” Even worse I’ve heard my husband is seeing another woman but still he’s allowed to remain at the church as the full time minister of music. It breaks my heart and makes me sick all at the same time. I don’t expect the church to turn their backs on him but how about holding him accountable?

        I was faithful to my husband in every way and I made the choice to love him every day. I was 110% committed to our marriage and would have honored my vows and loved him till the day I died. I begged my husband to tell me why he was leaving me but to this day I have no idea what I could have done that was so horrible he’d break his marriage vows over it. His rejection has been the deepest wounding of my lifetime and its taken away my trust. I begged him to reconcile, I told him I would do whatever it took to make him happy but once he left he never spoke to me again and ignored all my pleas for counseling. Please pray for God to heal my heart. I’m broken but I will never give up. In Christ alone, I place my trust!

        • Ruth from United Kingdom says:

          Allyson, Your husband didn’t leave you cos he was a happy in your marriage. You did something or didn’t do something too. I’m nearly divorced and although my ex husband is an alcoholic, abusive and admits he has never loved me AND we have lived separate lives for 16 years I know I had my part to play in why we’re divorcing. It takes two to make a marriage, and two to break one. Mine was a marriage on paper only as we didn’t live as man and wife …more as mother and child but I’m still going to be a divorcee and I have still had to acknowledge the part I played in it.

          I think re-marriage is a difficult area and each case should be viewed on it merits. I also was faithful to my husband. He was faithful to his alcohol. He refused all help and got worse and worse. He was emotionally and verbally so abusive I could hardly function by the time he left. I believe the Lord still has a plan for me and it may include re-marriage eventually, but in the meantime I’m working on myself and my own issues as we all must for successful relationships, be it first marriage or re-marriage.

  20. Borkenhearted from United States says:

    I wish my ex wife would read this. She moved on immediately after she left me and brought a married man into my child’s life. I am devastated. The kicker? Both she and he are Sunday school teachers and the church remains silent. I am disappointed, hurt, angry, you name it. Even the council I seek from MY pastor offers no relief.

  21. Nancy from Canada says:

    The best remarriages are if the ex has also remarried, or died, or taken a one-way boat to China. And the best remarriages are when everyone involved has lots of $$$. The best remarriages are when no one has to all live in the same town. And the best remarriages are when the ‘children’ are grown up or better yet, there are no previous children :) –From someone who has been there.

  22. Xta from United Kingdom says:

    (Nigeria) Please I need your urgent advice. I am a single lady of 25. I met this wonderful guy I love him with all my heart. He is married with two kids and I saw that as a barrier. But he told me that if he had met me a night before his wedding he would not do the wedding. I took it as a joke. He told me there are some things he says I might take it jokingly, but he is serious.

    Recently he told me he wants to divorce his wife because she nags a lot and she’s too abusive and she does it to everyone around and he has been enduring it since the inception of the marriage and he can no longer take it anymore. She abuses his family members and they have been married for just 3 yrs. He has filed for divorce. Please, my question is if he ends up divorcing his wife should I marry him and is it wrong to marry him? I really love him. I just want to know before I make a decision.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Xta, I can appreciate the confusion you are experiencing. But this man is married with two children. He is not yours to have –even though he says he wouldn’t have married her a “night before his wedding” if he would have met you that night. That in itself is suspicious. This is the night before he is to marry, and he is still thinking he’s available to look at you or anyone else? Hmmm… If he didn’t love this woman and wasn’t totally committed to marrying her for life, why did he go through with the ceremony? Do wedding VOWS mean so little to him that he would marry someone so readily? (That’s something for you to consider if he were to make those vows to you and to God.) Did someone hold a gun to his head and MAKE him make those vows to her? Obviously, his commitment and character values show themselves to be lacking on many levels.

      He is telling you that he has feelings for you when he is still married. I don’t care what he claims his wife is doing, he has no business telling this to you. That shows a man lacking in commitment and integrity. Be forewarned! It brings up the point that if you marry him, what would prevent him for proclaiming feelings for another woman at some point if you aren’t “behaving” as he thinks you should? You can say that you wouldn’t act like that, so it wouldn’t be the same circumstances. But you never know what would cause him to act like this. What if he was bored with you or wanted more from you or his family wanted more from you that you didn’t think you could give? Would he be free to proclaim feelings for yet another woman then? Please note that if he did this with one woman (you) he is very capable of doing this with another woman in the future. Every marriage goes through bad times at some point or another.

      And even if he divorces, you could be interfering with his possibly getting back together with his wife. Perhaps she will repent at some point, but then because he has married you, he would not be free to marry her again –the mother of his two young children. This is too complicated, too messed up. You need to guard your heart better than this, than to fall in love with someone who is married –someone who has two kids who will be VERY MUCH affected by their father jumping in and out of marriage and into another one. I can’t even start to think God would approve.

      I can’t tell you what to do, but personally, I would run away as far as I could from this guy– I don’t care what he says. You may not think so right now, but it looks like he is a player –a charming person who knows how to play women. 3 years is NOT enough time to work through family matters. And marrying again right after he divorces shows a lack of understanding about what it means to be married. He will have a lot of emotional baggage he should be working through (which will take several years of intentional processing). And IF he divorces, he should concentrate on helping his young children adjust to the end of one marriage –the one to their mother, before he even THINKS of seeing someone else, bringing additional confusion into these children’s lives.

      Again, he is not yours to have and you should not be his to have –he is still married… he shouldn’t be talking about romantic feelings with another woman while he is still in a covenant relationship with his wife. To me, the divorce would matter little. He has already shown his character –one that is lacking the kind of commitment and integrity I believe God would have me be with and marry. Please prayerfully consider what I am saying here. I hope you will… I pray for you and for that man and his wife and those innocent children.

  23. Wayne from Australia says:

    I’m in my second marriage and need some advice desperately.

    I do 99% of grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up yet my wife and her daughter seem to think I should worship the ground they walk on whenever they rarely cook and even more rarely clean up after cooking. Ususally on weekends (not all the time but the majority of it) my wife sits on the lounge and watches TV while I mow the lawn, put on washing, get dinner ready etc. Once every one to two months she does do some house cleaning and then gets angry that the place is messy and that she had to clean it up.

    She usually blames my children who stay with us 6 days out of every fortnight and totally ignores the fact that she and her daughter contribute to the mess and do nothing to clean it up. We do share the washing and folding of clothes. However if I don’t clean the kitchen, take out the rubbish etc there would be no clean crockery or glasses. Bleieve me I’ve tested th theory and only get complaints that there are no glasses avaialble.

    I also take care of her daughter, drive her around, clean up after her, feed her etc yet my wife does very little for my children on the basis that “she didn’t sign up to look after them”

    My wife also redraws money from our mortgage without discussing it with me first and when I ask her about it she says she can’t remember what she needed that money for. We have a joint account for bills and groceries and I put in more on a monthly basis than she does but she still spends all “her” money than draws on that account to pay for her petrol and her lunch. She leased a car a couple of years ago and swore that she could afford it but now expects me to pay out her residual because she won’t have the money and if she can’t pay that she’ll lose the car.

    Her mother also has no money and is at retirement age so I will have to support her as well.

    I’m at a loss. Should I stay or should I go?

    • Rose from South Africa says:

      Wayne, I am sorry that you are in this situation. I am unaware of the reason why your first marriage failed. Your new wife seems selfish and lazy. The situation regarding the children, finances and household chores should have been discussed and agreed upon before you got married. How can she say she never signed up to look after your children? That’s exactly what she promised to do when she married you. This to me is a typical example of “the grass being greener on the other side.” I can not tell you what to do I only know that when marriage vows are broken consequences follow.

      • Wayne from Australia says:

        Thanks Rose. My first marriage failed because we married young, we had lots of ups and downs and I realised after almost 20 years I didn’t love her anymore. It was one of the hardest things I had to do.

        To be fair, my current wife does have a full time job and works long hours so I can understand she is tired on weekends. Obviously you are also only hearing my side of the story and things from my perception and not hers. However I do get annoyed and frustrated when I ask her occasionally if she would cook dinner and I get one of the following responses:

        * Only if you go to the shops and get the food
        * Fine, we’ll just order pizza
        * Outright no
        * Do I have to?

        I even get snappy responses and begrudging help if I ask for assistance, like “would you mind making the salad?” I also get annoyed because as I said if she or her daughter do anything it’s like I have to be so grateful and when I raise the point that I do things literally on a daily basis, I’m met with anger.

        Regarding finances. I earn more than my wife. However, I still pay maintenance to my ex wife, which puts us on an even footing when it comes to “money in the hand” when we get paid. My wife has racked up a lot of debt and, in my opinion, is financially irresponsible and continues to spend money without trying to address her debt. She is not a bad person but at times I really feel that the relationship is very one sided and any attempts at discussing this ends up in an argument.

        The fact that I’m considering leaving to me is an indication of my unhappiness and I often feel like I’m pretty much doing everything I would be doing if I was living by myself with the only difference being I wouldn’t have to take care of two other people. Thanks again for your response.

        • Larz0 from United States says:

          Wayne, I’m sorry to say that your wife doesn’t respect you. You are going to have to take some drastic steps to turn this around. You must respect yourself, and continue to improve yourself to be respectable. Tell her what you are going to do, what you expect of her, and then do it. She will fight you, and you must not waver. If she stays, she will respect you. If she doesn’t, then it’s on her.

        • Sad from South Africa says:

          Dear Wayne, I think your letter is just confirmation of the article. Divorce sometimes seem like the only option, but wouldn’t you agree that your life would have been much easier if you just stayed in your first marriage and tried to make that work? For one, you wouldn’t have had issues with her children and yours, or maintenance payments, etc. But also something for you to consider… has divorce become an “easy way out” for you? You can’t just want to leave when the going gets tough. You need to try to acquire the necessary tools to give you some staying power, my friend. Hope things get better for you.

        • John from Netherlands says:

          I think you need to set your boundaries. Further, did you ever google that behaviour as shown to you? Sounds to me something like traits similar to persons with borderline personalty disorder.

  24. Working_Through_It from United States says:

    Great article! After separating 4 years ago, working through the legal proceedings, and the emotional winding down or grieving, I thought I was ready to date and move on. What I’m finding out is that emotionally, I’m not ready. I’ve dated several very nice women and we seem to click, but I find that I’m unable to reciprocate.

    Some background, in summary… (no need to dole out the details; others have had similar experiences so we don’t need to hear another one). My wife left me for another person. For months leading up to separation she denied everything. Of course, I was hurt. We tried counseling, but I stopped after one session. Why? Because even though the counselor was a marriage and family counselor, she made it clear that her interest was in her client first. When I had looked up how to choose a counselor, guidance was for someone who would work on the marriage AND those involved. Marriage for the counselor was secondary. The ex and the counselor made it clear there was nothing in the marriage to save… we had been married 24 years. Anyway, I was devastated and it took me about 6 to 12 months to accept this is how things are.

    So definitely… I’m not ready to remarry. What concerns me is will I ever regain the ability to love and allow myself to emotionally give myself to someone again? It seems so risky. So while the chase of getting to know someone is exciting and adventurous, there seems to be a stopping point as if I’m trying to protect myself from being hurt again by not becoming involved. I feel so conflicted because as the article mentions, we do want to have what we used to have because we know what it’s like. Yet, I can’t let myself go. How does one get over protecting oneself so he can proceed into a meaningful relationship?

  25. Ta from Nigeria says:

    (Nigeria) I am confused and need your help. I am married for two years now… but my husband had never stayed with me under one roof …abandoned his responsibility. I asked for a divorce but he refused. Now I try to make it work, but only for me to find out he has a mistress. I really want out of the marriage cause I feel like I am in bondage. With all that has happened I lost all my love for him, which is now a big problem. Please give me advice.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Ta, Please know how sorry I am for how you are being treated. No one deserves this type of treatment from their spouse. I cry for you that you are suffering in this way. I have to say though that I’m not sure why you married him in the first place. It seems to me that there had to be some indication(s) that he wasn’t a faithful person and that he wouldn’t be in partnership with you (even if he did decide to be faithful), even before you married. But none-the-less, you did marry him, and now that you are married, things are all the more complicated on many different levels.

      First off, please know that you don’t have to put up with unfaithfulness. Your heart and marriage is not to be a revolving door to your husband’s whims, as far as whether or not he will be with only you or if he will cheat. Not only is his unfaithfulness unhealthy for your marriage emotionally and spiritually, there are many diseases (some of them fatal), which he can get from other women and pass onto you. Please be careful.

      Personally, if my husband decided to cheat, he wouldn’t stay “with me under one roof.” That in itself would show me that he has “abandoned” the covenant of our marriage and also, his love for me. He couldn’t love me and treat me that way. For that reason, he would never stay in the same home with me (whether he ever did or didn’t previously) until and unless I was sure he was repentant and was determined to stay faithful to me and especially to God.

      What you do beyond not having him live with you or sharing your marital bed is something you have to determine with God. I can’t tell you that, and neither should anyone else –that is a decision you need to make with God. There are two articles posted in the “Separation and Divorce” topic, which I recommend you prayerfully read and consider. One is titled, “Christians on Divorce.” You don’t say if you are a follower of Christ or not, or if your husband is, but that article may be helpful in explaining some things and also give you insights you may want to have before making permanent decisions. Also, the document in that same topic titled, “Scriptures on Divorce” could be helpful. It will show you scriptures from the Bible, which will tell you what the grounds for divorce are, as God puts them forth.

      But above all, keep in mind that just because you CAN divorce (because of your husband’s unfaithfulness), it doesn’t mean that you HAVE to or that you should. Perhaps God will reveal to you another road for you to travel (like being separated from your husband until he wakes up), not sharing the marital bed with him until then, because of a miracle that will happen in your husband’s heart. Perhaps yes, perhaps no… I don’t know. Again, this is between you and God. Yes, you CAN divorce. SHOULD you do so, is another question that only you can answer with God’s guidance.

      Please know that I feel for you… I can well comprehend how you would lose all your love for your husband, because of how he has treated you. That could definitely empty one’s heart of love –no doubt. But please also know that love CAN be resurrected. I’ve seen it happen before, even when there was cheating involved (I saw this happen with my mom for my dad after he cheated –leaving us abandoned for a time, but then coming back a totally changed man for the better). But I don’t know if this will happen for you or not –especially since it doesn’t seem that at this point your husband “gets it” as far as how he has stabbed you in the heart with his actions.

      He is wrong and he has GREATLY hurt you. What you do with that hurt is something I hope you will lay before the Lord and continually ask for His help in dealing with it. Divorce or separation is another step, which involves a totally separate decision –one you need to make with the Lord’s guidance, not human. Yes, God hates divorce (you will hear many people quote that scriptural principle to you), but He also hates violence and He hates unfaithfulness. However, he loves you Ta. I hope you will fall before Him and empty your tears upon Him, asking for His help and insight as to what to do. His love for you and faithfulness towards you is eternal. Please know that. As you ask Him for guidance, He will give it… it may take a while, but you will receive it in the right timing. I pray for you –especially that you sense God’s love for you and experience His care.

      • Ta from Nigeria says:

        Thanks so much… but somewhere along I fell in love with someone who gave me attention when I was confused in my own world always sobbing and committed adultery. I pray God forgives me because I have sinned. I am really depressed in the marriage.

        • Cindy Wright from United States says:

          Ta, You weren’t being straight-forward here. You gave SOME information but you left out an important piece. No matter what is happening it’s never acceptable to allow yourself to believe the lie that because you hurt so badly, solutions to cheat and do that which you should not, are acceptable. No matter what your husband was or wasn’t doing, no matter how unhappy you were, falling into the arms of another man when you are married (even though your husband is treating you poorly and is cheating) doesn’t justify your taking the “attention” of someone else. You know that. If you don’t you should. God gave you a conscience and makes it known what His expectations of us are, as to how we are to live our life. Please don’t continue on this path. It will only lead to a worse future.

          I read somewhere that “your greatest temptation to sin is when someone first sins against you. But THEIR sin never justifies YOUR sin. Fighting your mate’s irresponsibility with irresponsibility of your own is like pouring gasoline on a fire; it just makes things that much more explosive, that much worse.” And it is. Now your heart is wrongfully entangled with someone else’s. You sure can’t criticize your husband for his poor behavior when yours isn’t any better.

          Ta, I’m not going to go on and on… as an older sister, I would like to, but I know it won’t help. But please know that I care… I’m not trying to condemn you but give you a wake-up call that the road you are on is a slippery one. You WILL fall much worse than now if you continue on as you are. And how very tragic that would be. You can’t change the past, but you can do what is right today and in the future. You have a choice here. All I can do is point you to what is recorded in the Bible in John 8:1-11 and say to you what Jesus said to another woman in your place, “Go, and from now on sin no more.” I hope you will. I pray your eyes will be opened and hope you will embrace God’s way of proceeding in life, rather than the way you have up until now.

  26. Melissa from United States says:

    I just read this. We are 7 years into our 2nd marriage. I brought two children and he one to our marriage. His daughter ended up living with us shortly after we were married. It has been difficult and I have cried sometimes. So many days I thought I was having a break down. But… my goal has always been to make it work, so squashing your own jealousy and “rights” in your own home is difficult but it’s worth it.

    We have entered a new stage where I don’t believe my stepdaughter is making good choices, now 19 years old… but I have no authority. She only needs me to take care of doctor bills and college. While I am a little resentful, I think I am going to start advising her to speak with her Dad or her Mom in regards to those parental things… if it were other children, I’d have put my foot down already.

    The goal still is to make it work. But as they get to be young adults, it gets even crazier for a Step Mom who loves her Step Daughter and wants only the very best. Hands tied…

  27. Tuxedo Cat from United States says:

    I do not recommend marrying a divorced person. The first marriage is all it’s about. I married a divorced man, and he called me by his first wife’s name a few times. He downgrades me to the kids, when I just want to be a friend to them. He is not above lying to get them on his side. His oldest daughter thinks he treats me horrible.

    What kind of modeling am I doing for them? After all, I’m married to their father now. I’ve considered divorce from the first year of our marriage, but as a Catholic, I could not divorce. But then a minister (not Catholic) helped me see that when a person marries, he or she stands before God and makes certain vows to love and cherish, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others… but if the spouse breaks any vow, he or she has spiritually “divorced” the other person, breaking the marriage vows. Any thoughts on this? I’m so unhappy now. Today he decided not to talk to me all day, and not even look at me.

  28. Hans from United States says:

    (GERMANY) Just wait until the kids are grown before remarrying.

  29. Marie from United States says:

    I too am from the US. After being married to a man who was verbally and emotionally abusive, I had to “get to know” that person who was no longer a victim. The first mistake I made was not learning to live on my own before getting married before marrying the first time. My ex-husband left some of his clothes behind because he didn’t think I could raise a 9 year-old boy or a 13 year-old girl on my own. With the Good Lord’s help, my children and I thrived. Three years later I met a wonderful man who is now my husband.

    We did rush our relationship and married 5 months after meeting one another. However, I do believe we were ready for marriage. Since we both had found happiness within and had a personal relationship with Christ, the love we felt for one another grew so quickly. What I didn’t expect was the venom and hatefulness from both exes immediately after the “I dos.” Our marriage is strong, but there are stresses that have beaten me down. I feel so sorry for my husband as his ex has used her venom to poison his two college-age children against him. They’ve made it clear that they hate both of us.

    My husband had to pay child support for both children until they reached the age of 21. When his daughter decided she wanted to go to an out-of-state college instead of taking advantage of a full room and board scholarship for her major, he put his foot down and told her to take the scholarship. Her mother and her did the opposite. Since our marriage, his ex took him to court for the out-of-state tuition. Despite his rights to have a say, the judge ruled in her favor.

    We are in a living nightmare. I have ms and am on a small disability. He is disabled due to 3 back injuries. The judge allowed a garnishment for all expenses the ex was requesting, plus attorney fees. We are destitute. My children are suffering also. My daughter leaves for college in a month. Thank the Good Lord she has ALL of her expenses paid through scholarships she deserves for the hard work she did in high school. My son lives with us now. My ex is skipping out on his child support. We have a little savings and his parents help us some. I never thought I would be on food stamps.

    Like you warned in your article, money for children is a BIG issue that can sink you financially. I do feel resentment toward his children and ex. I am basically having to pay for his daughter’s schooling in essence, because I am having to foot the bill for our mortgage, utilities, etc. The relationship with my parents is poor at best. They blame my husband and chide me for quote “making poor decisions.” I don’t know how to avoid the “unknown” when it comes to remarriage. I don’t believe in cohabitation, but what to do when you love someone and want to spend your life together? There are strains on the marriage because of financial issues.

    We’re committed for the rest of our lives. My problem is trying not to hate his ex-wife. It’s a constant, daily struggle. Please pray for us. Please pray I can keep Satan’s ugly hate demon away from my heart. Thank you for your wonderful article. Second marriages are difficult, but finding the love of your life can be challenging, but also extremely rewarding. God Bless. Marie

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Thank you Marie, You said it best, from experience. Now if only we can get the word out to consider ALL the “costs” ahead of time when it comes to remarriage, we might help prevent additional divorces. You don’t enter into marriage blinded by “love” because when every day living hits you and especially step children issues, that “love” can truly be challenged. Make sure that yoyo are prayerful and careful and have truly considered the costs, so you stay true to your commitment together. Thanks again, Marie for sharing as you have… I have no doubt that it will be helpful to many. I pray the Lord helps you to release this ex-wife over to Him, and that you’re able to turn your “hate” into prayer.

  30. Kara from United States says:

    I am recently divorced (4 mos) and just recently found out that my ex was basically stringing me along prior to and after the divorce. I totally brought into his ideas about us becoming “new people” before we could remarry. Although it was extremely difficult. I really believed we were working on our friendship and becoming new whole individuals. We prayed together and got counseling.

    So I was shocked when I went by his house (that we used to share) a few weeks ago, to find someone there. It was late at night and he claimed that he had a little too much to drink so he called a female friend to drive him home. Needless to say, I was shattered. The explanation and everything about the way he left our marriage sounds like a completely different person. I made mistakes in our marriage and so did he but he blamed me for the demise of our marriage. I thought he was a Christian, but I don’t know this new person. We are both in our 40’s so maybe he’s going through a mid life crisis. He finally admitted that the woman is a new friend and that he fell out of love during the marriage.

    I believe that when you are walking with the Lord, He teaches you the love walk is not based on feelings but a commitment. When you are committed to the love walk you don’t give up and go back to your old ways. So I am taking my time. I will not date because even though I miss companionship, I’m not emotionally ready.

    • Marda from United States says:

      I have been divorced since 2008. That will be six years this month. In a nutshell, the health of the marriage was in trouble for some time before that. No children. Growing apart. Miscarriage. Job Loss. Family passing. Parents ill and dying. Husband seeking another relationship outside of the home. Fast forward. I had a hysterectomy and one month later, my husband got mad due to the surgery and said he did not love me anymore. He was gone the next day.

      I filed for divorce because he would not talk to me. He was lying to me. There was someone else. He took her to the early church service at our church to show her to everyone and had breakfast at a restaurant that my matron of honor worked at. During our separation there was cruel behavior. Six months later, the house sold. The money was mine rom an inheritance. Bitter husband. A woman showed up helping with his move out of the house. The same woman who was in the courtroom seated behind us when we had to stand before the judge.

      He moved closer to his work, he was already living there in her house. “It just did not work out”, he said. She is ten years younger and has kids. He claims he is helping raise the sons young children. My mind went all over the place with that one. A son out of wedlock? Possible. Not probable, though. He kept so many things of mine that belonged to my family. Selfish. So, I met with him in a parking lot to get some things, things that really did not matter that much to me. He covered his wedding ring. Odd behavior. Go to God. I did that so many times and still at times, this unbelievable stuff fills my mind and then I just take a deep breath and go to God again!!

      • Becky from Uganda says:

        I am still in shock about the article on remarriage. I feel the devil has cornered me and I have only one option to look to God for his plan.

        I am currently separated from my husband. We were married for 2 years and have a daughter. We both made mistakes and blame each other for the separation. He emotionally abused me right from our honeymoon and was never around for us. All this time while I was alone and I “took comfort” in a friend of mine who has always been there for me since we were kids. We spent a lot of time together and are very fond of each other. He takes care of us and adores my daughter. All this while my husband doesn’t want anything to do with us still. A few months ago, we slept together and I am now pregnant with this man’s baby. We have both acknowledged our sin in this and have repented it. He has said he wants to be there for me as we go through this and will not let us go our separate ways…and would like for us to start a life together after our child is born and my divorce is finalized.

        My husband keeps threatening to destroy me and take my daughter. I believe God is a God of mercy and grace and one of second chances. I believe in family life and raising children the godly way. We both do. I know this man is my second chance to have family life and marriage.

        I have since relocated to a different town and so no one knows about this…Please advise me – I am overwhelmed. Bex.

  31. Nicole from United States says:

    I have a question, my husband and I filed for divorce last year. He moved on with his life as did I. I met a man who was recently divorced and going thru the same as me. He proposed to me 5 months after being together. I have 3 children, 1 who is bipolar, and he has 2… His oldest is 18, his youngest is 12. Well, his youngest wasn’t happy with my children showing his father affection. He became unhappy because his son was unhappy. After being together for 10 months, we had split up… 3 days later he met another woman, who doesn’t have her son much, they fell into a relationship.

    6 weeks now he already proposed amrriage to her and is moving in with her. He states he loves me and always will and it wasn’t me, it was the children he couldn’t handle. He knew I had 3 children going into the relationship and that 1 has a disorder, but all of a sudden it was to much for him to deal with. My question is how could someone fall in love again within a week? How could someone propose again after just 6 weeks? I’m clueless on how this works. The new relationship/marriage would be his 2nd marriage but would be her 4th… Is this something that you think would last??

    • Tony from United States says:

      I think you dodged a bullet. It may hurt now, but it beats the pain of finding out he’s so fickle after you are wed.

      • Nicole from United States says:

        Thank you, and yes it does hurt… Not even 2 months with the man I was to marry, is now living and engaged too… It’s just sad!

  32. Ajit from United States says:

    A thought provoking article. It taught me a lesson of my life. If you have children and you love them immensely… so does a divorced mother. Before committing to remarry ask and consider all situations explained above. I’m remarried for 20 years but never lived a day without one or the other thought discussed above. Not being with them through their childhood (my daughters were 5 and 13 when circumstances shook my life…)

    I WISH I HAD COMMITTED TO MY CHILDREN… more than remarriage. They suffered a lot from divorce and upbringing. They are wonderful to us… Mom, Me, and step mom… but there is always something missing…

  33. Tolu from United States says:

    Hi! My name is Tolu, I’m a single man courting a divorced lady with a daughter. The ex divorced her in 2007 citing “family pressure and disagreements” from both sides. They both eloped without the consent of both parents to marry in 2002. We met in 2012, and we have been working towards a life together. But, the biblical interpretation on marrying a divorced woman has been aiding me to drag feet. More so, her daughter is impossible to correct; she seems to have been over-pampered over the year. And thus often see me as an intruder. Please, I need your wise counsel. Thank you!

  34. James from Nigeria says:

    Hello, the issue I have is not divorce, but a man who went through customary law of marriage with a woman and had children, whom are now adult, and the marriage went bad and separated for one reason other. Now, the man deemed it fit to get a wife again, which he did. They were married in a Catholic church in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

    After a long time both couples were together and had no children, but the 2nd wife, which is a stepmom to the children are having issues in the same house. The man is dead and the wife has taken over the man’s property. Please, is it right for the woman to take charge of the man’s property or not when he has grown male children? Please advise. Thanks.

  35. Jolly from Uganda says:

    My husband and I are Christians. He is a pastor and I was the worship leader until marital issues forced me to step down. We have not connected since the day we said our vows but kept an image for the public that we’re doing fine. We’re were both at fault, since it takes two to make or break a marriage. But the public, upon finding out about our troubles, condemned and crucified me.

    We conceived a month into our marriage but my husband was not there for me through that time and after. I paid all the bills and rent. While he kept this front in the public that he was a good man.

    We have separated 5 times since our wedding; he would throw me out of the house and change the locks but somehow I would, with the help of a mutual friend, come back and apologise even if it wasn’t my fault.

    I was so frustrated. He never went for counseling with me, or prayed with me or do anything to make this work. At one point I contemplated suicide because I thought since I couldn’t divorce as a Christian, maybe death would indeed separate us. I was so lost and hopeless. But the Holy Spirit whispered words of Hope to my heart and I found my way back to living.

    Two years ago, after the last separation with my husband, I lost my job (I worked for a Christian organization; remaining married was one of the clauses in my contract) and sought the help of a friend from way back. One day, slept with him and realized I was pregnant. We decided not to have an abortion because a wrong cannot right another wrong. The gentleman has looked after my two kids and me. I have never felt so much happiness even in the midst of such drama.

    However, I still have not yet divorced my husband and yet I’m not sure what to do about this new status. My husband will not divorce me coz it would mean losing his job and respect but he doesn’t want me back and has made it clear to me. I now have a child with another man, who would like to marry me eventually but he cannot coz I am a married woman. I’m in a dilemma. Please advise.

    • Jenny from United States says:

      Dear Jolly, I encourage you to find a good Christian counselor who can help you sort out what went on in your marriage, and help you understand what God may have for you now. Also, you may find help from a booklet called “God’s Protection of Women, When Abuse is Worse Than Divorce.” This is published by the people who put out “Our Daily Bread,” the monthly devotional booklet. You can find it online, and you can order a copy for free.

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