Second marriages are more likely to faily…do you believe it? Well, imagine you have gone through your divorce completely understanding the mistakes you made. You know why you picked the wrong man. You are clear on his faults that you had overlooked. You realize how his behavior was unacceptable and your needs weren’t met.
Life settles. You begin to date again and before you know it you meet a man you know you can love. He is nothing like your ex.
Fast forward 7 years. You are married and the passion has waned and that tugging voice in the back of your head is telling you that something feels uncomfortably familiar. That old sense of unhappiness, loneliness, emptiness has returned. You roll over that there lying next to you is your ex-husband in a different body and divorce #2 is on its way!
Why does such a high rate of second marriages end in divorce?
You would expect that we have learned our lessons and would be ‘getting it right’ the second (and certainly the third) time around, right?
One of the most common behaviors of our clients is how crystal clear they are on his problems. They know what he was responsible for, where he fell short, how he was unwilling or able to change. Every story begins with her focusing on his shortcomings, faults, and responsibility. While your ex was undoubtedly responsible for part of the dissolution of your marriage, you were each 100% responsible for the relationship and as such you are each responsible for its ending.
When we focus on the other person, we do ourselves a grave injustice. We cannot control, fix or change the other person. In fact, we have already decided that they will soon be a part of our past (at least as a partner even if we will continue to co-parent with them). The only focus that empowers us is to look at our part, what we were responsible for and how we might learn and grow from that.
By bringing our awareness to our part in our failed marriage, we open the possibility to learn from our mistakes, assess what behavior of ours honored the person we want to be and the way we want to live our lives and where it did not. We take full responsibility for our actions and inactions and in doing so, we begin to accept what happened and stop seeing ourselves as a victim of the other person.
Even if your spouse was abusive or an addict or had an affair, you still had a part in the ending of your marriage. Perhaps you were afraid to speak your truth for fear of angering the rageful husband or you enabled or covered up the signs of the drinking or drugging spouse “to protect the children” or as you and your spouse became distant, you got involved in the PTA and girl scouts and communication fell off and he found someone else. None of this is to say that your husband was not 100% responsible. He was. But so were you. Even with infidelity, the relationship typically is in crisis long before the infidelity takes place.
When we step out of our victim role and take responsibility, we empower ourselves to grow and transform into the people we desire to be. We look at our own shortcomings with compassion and acceptance. We consciously choose how we want to BE. We accept him for who he is and choose to work on the areas of our lives that we want to handle differently. We honor who we are and become more authentic without worrying about rocking the boat. Once we begin navigating our lives with clarity, purpose and full engagement, we minimize the chances of finding the same man in a differnt body. We have become energetically healthier and thereby attract a healthier man.
If you are wondering how to avoid the second (or third) divorce, keep the focus on yourself. Notice your patterns in intimate relationships (they date back to your childhood and your relationship with your parents and siblings). Notice what you do when you are afraid or unsure. Do you boldly step out of your comfort zone or fall into familiar patterns that have not served you well in the past.
Two pointers to consider are these:
First, whatever it is you want to ‘get’ from an intimate relationship you must first be giving yourself. For instance, if you want someone who is honest and will commit to you but you are quick to talk yourself out of your feelings and tell yourself you are being over sensitive and do things you don’t really want to do, then you are not being honest with yourself or committing to yourself. No one else will either.
Second, if you are post divorce and ready to date again, take time to be clear on your values. What are the 5 most important values to you. Do you live by those values? Do they guide your most vital decisions? Then, know what your must haves and non-negotiables are. What are the most important characteristics in the man you want to spend your life with. What are the deal breakers?
The people who have healthy lasting first and second marriages are the ones who focus on their personal growth, accept their partner for who he is and who he isn’t, support and build each other up and respect each other’s differences. Beat the odds, keep the focus on yourself and go into your next relationship with eyes wide open knowing that you can only change yourself. When you find the man you want to marry, make sure you are willing to accept him as is and that you have been totally honest about who you are and who you are not.