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Making a Second Marriage Work

Making a Second Marriage Work
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No one ever plans on walking down the aisle and promising “until death do us part,” only to face off in divorce court years down the road. But with the divorce rate at 50% in the United States, many people  find themselves single later in life, with hopes of still finding lasting love, even as an older adult. Thankfully, those dreams are within reach, and experts say the second time around really can be better than the first.

Marriage expert and author Stephanie Coontz offers several tips that will help those delving into a second, or even third, marriage, find lasting love. First, acknowledge that, regardless of what spurred the divorce, chances are both parties can at least own some responsibility for the failure of the marriage. “You have to admit that your first marriage’s failure wasn’t all your ex-spouse’s fault,” she states.

Dr. Tina B. Tessina, psychotherapist and marriage expert, concurs. “If you understand your own history, and seek to learn about your partner’s, you’ll stop repeating past mistakes,” she says. “Don’t keep secrets. Talking about your past will help you understand each other and resolve guilt, fear, and jealousy about earlier loves. Familiarity with what went wrong will help you recognize problems before you repeat them.”

Experts also agree it’s important to allow yourself time to grieve over the failed relationship before moving into a new partnership.  But when it is time to move on, move on whole-heartedly, committing yourself fully to the new union.

“Continue doing all the nice little things that made you fall for one another – sending flowers and cards, giving massages, cooking favorite dishes. Don’t let the romance die,” marriage expert and author of several books, Dr. Scott Haltzman asserts.

Dr. Tessina, who has been married for the second time for more than 30 years, agrees it is important to act as if you are dating, long after the marriage certificate has been signed.  “Remember to say the nice things, the compliments, the thank yous,” she urges. “Every couple has what I call a ‘relationship reservoir.’  If you fill it with good feelings and memories, you can draw on that when times get tough. But if your reservoir has lots of negatives and resentments, your marriage will not have staying power.”

In addition, be honest about your own personal dreams and aspirations. “If you discuss your hopes and dreams about the wedding, sex, and money in advance, you’ll get a chance to see how well you work things out together,”  Dr. Tessina offers. It’s equally important, all experts agree, to be proactive about helping your spouse achieve their goals, and continuously opening the dialogue about what each person hopes to achieve, both personally and professionally.

Also, keep your physical relationship active. “Don’t downgrade the importance of sex,” Dr. Tessina concludes.  “Be sure your communication about sexual issues is open.” She also notes the difference of sex early in a relationship, and sex between two long-term, committed adults.

“Sex is a great way to comfort each other, to reassure each other, and to heal emotional rifts,” she insists. “A satisfying sexual life will do more to cement the security of your relationship than anything else.”

Relationship expert Barbara De Angelis, Ph.D, adds that  changing your mindset before walking down the aisle again can help ensure a happily-ever-after. “I don’t like to think of ended marriages as ‘failures,'” she explains. “When you sell a house and move into a new one, you don’t consider that a failure; when you quit a job and get a better one, that’s not a failure. Leaving an unhappy relationship is a success — you’ve taken it as far as it can go, and you’ve grown and changed through it. Staying in it would have been a failure.”

Ultimately, just because one marriage may have ended painfully, does not mean that lasting love isn’t within the realm of possibility. In fact, it is by learning from past mistakes that a second marriage can turn into a fulfilling relationship everyone dreams about.






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