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Stop Divorce Happening To You

Premarital steps to avoid another divorce

Oscar Wilde wrote: “Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.” Although Wilde wasn’t a fan of matrimony, the statistics do bear out his assertion. It’s common knowledge that the divorce rate for second marriages is roughly 67%; for third marriages it hovers around 73%. Nevertheless, people continue to legally join forces. Why? Because: we like the feeling of being in love; we can’t stand being rejected; we have a need to rebuild our self-esteem via another commitment as soon as possible; we don’t like being alone…or lonely; we crave emotional and financial safety and security; it’s easier for most of us to have sex with someone we feel comfortable with; we live in a couple-oriented society and we don’t like to feel left out or discriminated against; and, if we have young children we still think it’s best to have a spouse.

For these reasons alone the institution of marriage is still quite popular regardless of the challenge it presents. It is in this spirit that I offer 10 tips that might help you to avoid becoming a statistic…again:

1. Don’t rush into anything — Many people, men in particular, try to buffer their pain with a new relationship. They simply don’t give themselves enough time to grieve their losses.

2. Learn how to be alone before you remarry — I recommend that people live alone for at least two years post-divorce. During this time you should practice handling your own bills. Cook, clean, sew and learn how to cope with emergencies. These skills can help to prevent you from choosing a new spouse simply to be taken care of.

3. Assess whether you want to be a step-parent — If your new partner has children, you must be willing to take on new responsibilities.

4. Consider whether you want to be a part of your new partner’s family — When you marry someone you marry their family as well. If your partner is overly closed or enmeshed with his/her family you will need to accept this rather than try and pry your partner away. If your partner hails from a distant or disengaged family you may have to live with a lack of support.

5. Be emotionally and physically attracted to your partner — It’s important that you have shared interests and find your partner physically appealing. It will eventually show if you remarry without these key ingredients.

6. Only remarry if you really want to be married — I know this sounds simplistic, but I’ve seen a number of couples that have remarried because they felt the pressure from family and friends. Don’t give in to these pressures or your new relationship will run a short course.

7. Accept your partner as is — Your second partner will probably be older than your first was when you initially married. Therefore, the odds on changing him/her will be slim to none. Weigh your new partner’s pros and cons and decide whether the cons are deal breakers. For the most part, what you see is what you get.

8. Consider your partner’s past — Your partner’s relationship history is usually an indication of what you’ll experience in your future together. For example, if your partner has a history of cheating, buyer beware.

9. Think about what you learned from your previous marriage — Knowing yourself is the most foolproof way of avoiding another divorce. Most people replicate the problems in their first marriage because underlying issues are hidden in their unconscious. For example, if your initial partner overspent and your second is a chronic gambler, you’ve unconsciously chosen two people who are irresponsible with money.

10. Let go of the past — Bringing unresolved emotional issues into your second or third marriage is a recipe for disaster. If you’re a widow or widower, make sure that you’ve fully processed the death of your previous partner(s). Nobody likes to compete with a ghost.

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Dr. Stephen J. Betchen is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist, as well as a critically acclaimed author and regular contributor to the popular Ladies’ Home Journal column, “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” He currently serves as Clinical Assistant Professor at Thomas Jefferson University.
For more than 25 years, Dr. Betchen has helped couples repair their relationships and reach new levels of happiness, whether they’re battling about in-laws, sex, parenting, infidelity, money, careers—or anything in between. (Case in point: He once treated folks who were at odds over the wife’s weight and the husband’s constant criticisms!)
Dr. Betchen’s approach to couples therapy is refreshingly simple: He offers no gimmicks, slogans or quick fixes to nagging problems. Instead, Dr. Betchen believes that individuals change only when they discover what’s really driving their behavior—and that relationships change only when couples develop empathy for their partners and understand what really drew them together. (Turns out that physical attraction is just part of it.)
Dr. Betchen provides in-depth analysis of couples’ attitudes and behavior, enabling them to see themselves and each other in a new light. And from there, he delivers real-world advice that teaches couples how to change themselves—and their relationship.
Dr. Betchen is the author of numerous professional articles on relationships and makes frequent media appearances. His expert opinions often appear in national publications, including Family Circle and Men’s Health. In addition to Magnetic Partners, Dr. Betchen is the author of Intrusive Partners-Elusive Mates.

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