DIVORCED? Don’t Remarry Until You Read This

Dollar Photo Love Text with Wedding Bands remarriagePlease note: The following is addressed to “Americans.” But these same principles apply in most countries, as well. Please read and glean through the article as it pertains to those considering 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. Surveys show that for virtually all of us, marriage holds an honored place on our wish list. It’s something we believe is necessary for attaining life happiness.

New Hopes

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 again. 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.

Learned from Mistakes?

“It’s so counterintuitive,” says Diane Sollee, a family therapist who is director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education. “It seems obvious that people would be older and wiser, or learn from the mistakes of a failed first marriage. They believe they would 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 hidden problems, 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, 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 defies the laws of gravity. “We feel that this new, 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. “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 affords us the convenience of thinking that any problems reside in our partner. We simply chose the wrong person last time. Or despite our 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

“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.

Conflict confuses us.

Our ability to learn about relationships shuts down when marriage begins to get tough and 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 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 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 in blame and defensiveness. They destroy everything in their path, pushing partners further apart and keeping them focused on each other. 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 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.”

With the absence of 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, 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 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 causes 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 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. 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 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 will tend to look for someone who is a lot more fun. “Unfortunately,” observes Howard K. Markman, Ph.D., “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. It prevents 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.”

Exploring Past

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. They are a different tribe with different traditions and rituals that have widely varying importance. Every event a different set of implications and, behind it, a different history.

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. “Not only have they been raised in different families, they’ve been indoctrinated into a different set of roles.”

Incompatibility

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. They are 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. The break-up rate is 60 per cent for all remarriages, for those involving children. The failure rate is highest in the first years, before these families have even sorted themselves out.

One reason, says Doherty, is that a remarriage with children has more potential underminers 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 full-time connection to a parent. No matter which parent a child is with, someone’s missing all the time. “This sadness is often not recognized by the adults,” says Emily Visher, Ph.D. “But it leads to depression, and resentment at the new marriage.” The children don’t have the same perspective as the adults on 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. 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 a moral dimension to remarriage families that’s not talked about,” says 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. These are 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.

Non-biological Parenting Role

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, PhD. He is a 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. “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?’ ‘Also, how much time do we spend with her family at Christmas?’ The inability to come to consensus interferes with intimacy.”

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, or 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, and knew you married. 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 Smartmarriages.com 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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Comments

137 responses to “DIVORCED? Don’t Remarry Until You Read This

  1. I agree with this article for the most part but would add that you do not mention widowers. They have equal concerns and baggage -are they out for happiness in a second marriage also? Even if the spouse has passed on there are still children and family from the previous marriage. I think for those divorced, time needs to pass and maybe a good idea to wait until the kids are in college. That allows time to pass and in addition a lot of the child issues and previous spouse connection are not as often.

    1. Hi TK, You’re right, this article doesn’t address widows or widowers who are considering remarriage. Since we didn’t write the article, we really can’t change it to be more inclusive. But we DO have an article posted on the web site, with links to other articles, which addresses that issue. You can find it at: http://marriagemissions.com/for-widows-and-widowers-considering-remarriage/. It was listed in the “Remarriage” topic. I hope this helps.

  2. As I am still processing/grieving my recent divorce, I find out my ex-husband has already remarried the other woman less than a month after our divorce. I wonder what the statistics are for those that didn’t take the time to grieve the loss and jump back into a marriage. It will be their second marriage each. Do men put that part of them away and don’t address the pain? Is it easier for them to move on like this?

    1. Every women cannot trust men. They want a second marriage and break the trust of women. This is very shameful.

    2. In light of what a friend of mine went through, I believe that even if the “hide it” men go through something after divorce; especially if they remarry. My friend’s ex-husband also remarried the other woman right after divorce, and he regretted it so much that he took out all his anger on my friend by yelling & screaming at her, trying to turn their daughter against her, and treating her badly every chance he got. One day my friend asked me, “why does he treat me this way when he was the one who wanted the divorce.” I told her, “it’s because he’s regretting his decisions and he’s angry that you gave him what he so badly wanted; so now he’s blaming you for what he’s stuck in.”

  3. It is very amazing that they just showed a couple on TV that just celebrated their 75th year together, which back then the times were certainly so much different, than today. Many marriages did last a very long time when both men and women in those days were very faithful and made it happen. It is just too very bad for many of us that happen to be born at this very horrible time. Had we been born back then, most of us would’ve been all settled down, instead of still being single now. It really sucks for many of us that really hate to be single.

  4. Unlike most people, I haven’t been married, divorced, or even been in a relationship. That is because I’m only a young teen whose parents are divorced. My mother was single for many years until I ended up in kindergarten. She met a man who was also previously divorced, and they started dating. Six years later she married him. I used to think their relationship was perfect but now it seems to be not so much what I thought it was. Around early 2016 I would hear them whisper insults to each other when they thought me and my sibling were asleep. It happened almost every night for about a month and a half. They never thought once that me or my sibling knew what was going on, or at least that’s what we interpreted. It got a little bit better but it’s still going on.

    The part that confuses me is how I should feel about my stepdad. I always hear my mom telling him how he ‘verbally abuses’ her when we’re at my dads house, and how he will not try to ‘mend’ their relationship. She also has confronted him about making out with another women. I don’t know if what she is saying is 100% true since I haven’t heard him ‘abuse’ her the way she states he does, but I also want to believe her because she is my mom. Something that makes me believe her claims even more is that he drinks a lot of alcohol. Not a enough to make him labeled an alcoholic, but he definitly intakes too much alcohol than necessary. I don’t know if I should dislike my stepdad, or if I should try to stay out of their affairs for now. (Side note: I haven’t talked to them about knowing any of this. As far as I know, they think me and my sibling are clueless as to what’s going on. And they are definitely trying to keep it that way.)

    1. Thanks for sharing what you are going through Lynn. Adult’s life is much more complex than we think when we are teenagers. It goes through with happy times and unhappy times. When two people marry they just don’t get married to one’s good qualities, but the bad ones too. So, sometimes it takes months and years to understand and cope with those qualities. I read some where that when you say or do one negative thing to your partner then you have to say or do ten positive things to overcome the impact of that one negative thing. But you know we all are humans and sometime it is impossible to control our emotions. Parents always want to keep their kids out of any bad situation but when they themselves are going through a tough time, it is hard to hide any such thing.

      Now I come to the point that you should not feel anything bad about your father unless he does something bad to you. If he is good to you then you be good to him. Communication is the key. Try to communicate with your mom clearly about what does she want to do and if you have good terms with your father too then talk to him as well. Tell them that you are concerned about their behavior. when we are a family then we can be upset, but disliking a person for a long time will not give a good result. You should talk to your mom first and whatever she says have sympathy with her.

    2. I pray that you are finding ways to be a teen. Try not to worry about adult problems. I do think it is wise that you find the right time to talk with your mom respectfully about what worries you. I think if your mom knows, it might help her understand how this is upsetting you. You are part of this family and you care. You should not suffer in silence. Let your parents…all of them…know you love them. Keep praying. You are a good kid who cares.

  5. I met someone on a website and we talked for an hour. It’s as if we knew each other already. He has been separated for quite some time as in years and is now waiting on his final divorce after having gone to court. I have met him several times and we both have these convictions to stop sinning. So we have chosen to wait till the legal matters have been put in writing. But is it still wrong to contact each other by phone as a friend?

    1. Dee, Your intentions may be good, but this man is not yours to have. I hate to say that. Even if he does divorce his wife, he still has some very important emotional and psychological work to do. You will just muddy that work (even if you say you will help him… it’s something HE needs to do, if he will… and if he doesn’t, then he won’t be close to being ready for the next relationship). Just because you divorce someone, it doesn’t mean that all ties are cut and you can move on without looking back or working on yourself, not just during a time of separation. If he jumps from this marriage into another relationship, there is no motivation, nor pain to push him to work through the junk that he can drag into the next relationship. He will invest his energies (for a time) into you and won’t be able to invest them into doing some real reflective thinking and repairing what needs repair work inside.

      Dee, you and I both know you won’t phone each other “as a friend.” Your heart is already going a different direction. You are starting into a limerence type of love/infatuation. Please look that term up on the Internet. It will explain the magnetism you both have towards each other right now. But it’s not a sustainable one over the years. Yes, there is no doubt your feelings are strong. But you need to nip this right now. He is not ready to dive into another relationship. And if he does –whether it’s with you or someone else, heaven help them. This is TOO SOON, to say the least. Studies show it takes several years, at best, to be ready (AND that is only IF they do the emotional work that needs to be done).

      As hard as it is, please back away. I’m warning you. For a while (perhaps even a few years) this relationship will appear to go well, but trouble is right around the corner waiting to drain the good feelings out of it. We’ve seen it over and over and over again. It APPEARS fun and shiny and like it’s such a wonderful connection. But that is a false front. Please, I beg you… let it go. He is not even starting to be ready for you. We’ve seen exes get back together again repeatedly (sometimes years later after the shine wears off from the present relationship). And then where does that leave the other person (you)? He may say that will never happen. But if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and have seen it “happen” we’d sure be doing GREAT financially. You may think you will be the exception to this case. But I’m telling you it is very, very, very unlikely.

      There is a reason why they were separated for years. Don’t get in the middle of it. Let it go while you can. Yes, you have feelings right now, but it’s better to break it now, than to be in a nasty break up later. I’m just telling you what I see. Don’t start a relationship in the middle of a mess… start it in a clean place, and this is NOT a clean place, nor will it even have the possibility of being that for years. I hope you will pray about it. I’m sure praying for you.

  6. Please, is it easy when you do court marriage with someone and you have departed for 2yrs and now you want to remarry? Is it possible not to divorce and remarry another person?

  7. A friend of mine has been divorced twice and wants to remarry. He says his heart is still bleeding. He is now dating a widow with a son and after dating two months she acts like she is madly in love with him. He never did acknowledge his wrong doing in the previous two marriages. Both women divorced him due to him evangelizing and rarely being at home. What advice could you give to someone like this. The widow woman is crazy about him and she’s been a widow for six years and is moving really fast. In fact shes already started posting pictures on facebook flaunting their relationship to all of his friends.

  8. I am 46 years old and in the process of getting divorced. I married a man in prison, and a couple years into the marriage I realized I had made a mistake and I wanted out. We were married for a total of six years (this year being the sixth), but I discussed my decision with him almost four years ago. He kept wanting to work it out, but every time we tried, we’d just end up back at square one, with me announcing (again) that I wanted a divorce.

    This year (a few months ago) I filed for the divorce and am currently awaiting it to be finalized. I seemed to have gained back everything I lost (my family, the respect of “my” children – we didn’t have any together, hope, etc.) as a result of entering that marriage; and I am happier than I’ve been in a very long time. I don’t miss him at all, but there is one thing that is bothering me more than anything else. I am currently seeing someone, and our conversations always triggers something that makes me bring up my ex. My new boyfriend says it doesn’t bother him, but his facial expression tells a very different story when I do it. Also, I’m not sure how to “grieve” that relationship now that it’s over. And one more thing, my new boyfriend already wants to marry me but I’m afraid it may be way too soon; and I believe it’s because he wants to ensure my ex is out of the picture for good.

    We also have concerns about remarriage because of what the bible says about a woman is not supposed to divorce her husband, but if he dies THEN she is free. I was told (by a pastor at my church) that the bible teachings do not apply to my marriage because due to my ex-husband being in prison the entire time we were married, we did not live as God intended for husband and wife to live; and our marriage was not what God intended a “real” marriage to be.

    So with all that being said, can anyone help or give me some good sound (wisdom) advice. And I also wanna say that this article was a huge help, and I am going to prayerfully do a thorough self-examination.

  9. This is an excellent article. The lingering hurt and pain is real. It is a throbbing ache that only God can soothe, the balm of Gilead. The “giving up” and rejection of an unwanted divorce is agonizing. Even when one works on themselves through prayer and self reflection, there is still a memory of failure and how someone found you unworthy of trying. So then do we spend the rest of our lives alone? What is the answer?

  10. My ex highly educated wife was abusive (physically & emotionally), narcissistic, and eventually led me to committing an abusive act (no one in my family nor me had any abuse history). As soon as I committed such act she (her family aided with this), she asked for divorce on a short-term marriage. I was under a massive amount of anti-depressants and anti-psych meds at the time when I committed the act (she knew, and she pushed me further; she was in the healthcare field too). Background: we dated one another for a few years before marriage, her family was religious, superficial, and my family was non-religious (g-d loving), but good at the core. Her family had a history of divorce, parents had conflict (attempted divorce when she was young, both avoid one another, etc…) and alienating (no contact) siblings/parents/cousins/etc… for periods of 6-7 years at its highest.

    I was blamed 100% for everything (including abuse, she told the therapist I was seeing that she was not at fault), she also told the therapist I would never receive closure from her because she knew I wanted it; meanwhile she wanted $$$ from me (she made substantially more money than me), threw things in my face (petty fb anniversary pics, started an online matrimonial account, would use competitors of my family’s business (she said it made her feel good), etc.), wouldn’t look me in the eye, refused to talk to me, but ask that I get help for my abusive behavior (I did & I’m confident today that I have beaten it) and prolonged the divorce (I asked for a settlement on three separate occasions). Eventually, she accepted my third and final settlement, and I realized it was because she had found another man (religious) during our divorce. She quickly made it official with him after our divorce (during the divorce they were just friends), and I suspect it was made her accept the third settlement.

    I have not heard a thing from her, and her new relationship with this guy continues seemingly strong. I saw her months after the divorce with the guy, she made it a point to walk by me, and not look at me while with her new guy. I simply ignored her, and wondered… does this guy know what he’s getting himself into? how could a g-d loving man start dating (I believe it was more than just friends) another man’s wife during divorce? Later I found out that his sister had a recent divorce filed and she was accused of domestic violence, and his family are extremists with dangerous viewpoints. I felt sorry for my ex, but I started thinking it seems at times like-minded people find like-minded people. Additionally, I realized that this was God’s plan for me; she was to help me become a better person (I have beat my abusive condition & I was completely off my anti-depressants & anti-psych meds 6 meetings after divorce, and I lost the 50 lbs I had gained during our relationship (I went from 180 to 230 in the two years of dating/marriage with her), and to eventually to be a better person for someone else.

    I wish her the best, I hope that this man doesn’t physically harm her (I was not physically abusive with her), and I will never receive closure from her (however my closure is my health, and aiding myself to be a better person for someone else). I think she seems genuinely happy, the man seems fairly dependent, and that should compliment her. I strongly believe that jumping from relationship to relationship isn’t healthy, and she did not really heal during our divorce (just blamed me, and moved on). Although we all heal at different paces, blaming one for 100% of the fault in your relationship proves that one hasn’t healed (it takes two; it could be 60/40, but she was still 40% at fault), and jumping into another relationship while being petty during divorce demonstrates an emotionally immature human being. I wish her the best,