If you’ve gone through a divorce — and even if you’ve been widowed — you may have a desire to get married again. Being part of a couple just feels “right” to some people. And seeking love and partnership is a natural extension of the human yearning to be connected with a partner.
But how do you know if you really want to get married again? A second or even third marriage is different than the first trip down the aisle. It just is – even for marriage-minded people. And you may be surprised to find yourself conflicted by your own thoughts and emotions.
When you consider that 50% of first marriages in the US end in divorce, you may have doubts about tying the knot. Hopefully, you will just take that statistic as going in with your eyes open and commit to being prepared for all that marriage demands.
But when you consider that 67% of second marriages — and even more for subsequent marriages — end in divorce, this statistic should give you pause.
There’re several theories as to why second marriages end in divorce. And if you have a desire to get married again, you need to research them and ask yourself how they might apply to you.
It may sound silly to suggest that you may not know if you really want to get married again. You either want to or you don’t, right?
But the truth is that you may want certain aspects of life that you believe come only with marriage. And in that regard, marriage can become a means to an end.
This is why it’s so important to ask yourself a lot of tough questions and to be completely honest with your answers.
Here are some of the most important questions to ask yourself before thinking about getting married again.
- What is my real motivation?This is a biggie. And, if you’re being completely honest, you may actually surprise yourself with your answer.If you’ve been in a marriage for a long time, you may be frightened by singlehood. You may feel lonely or out-of-place. You may have buried your individual identity in your marriage and not really know who you are anymore.
If you’ve young children, you may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of raising them without a second income or help at home.
You may be motivated by a strong sexual attraction or even by pressure to please “concerned” family and friends.
If your answer is anything other than deep love and a desire to have one another’s back on this road called life, you probably aren’t ready.
- Have I grieved the loss of my previous marriage or relationship?If you lost your previous marriage to widowhood, you know grief inside-out. You may have expected it, wrestled with it, and may still be going through it.If you’ve lost your marriage to divorce, grief may not have been an outcome you expected.
But the loss of a relationship is life-changing — even life-shattering. If you didn’t expect it, you may have lost your equilibrium and self-confidence. And it’s imperative that you allow yourself the time and acknowledgment to work the stages of grief without confusing your life with another marriage.
Finish the emotional work before seeking to get married again. And if you have children, be aware that they will experience their own grief and will need help getting through it.
- Am I truly over my ex?Are you still blaming your ex for your breakup? Do you still bring up your ex in conversations about why your life isn’t perfect? Do you still have feelings for your ex, whether they be longing, jealousy, or anger?That’s not a way to go into a new relationship, let alone a marriage, as an emotional threesome. Your new partner deserves someone who’s free of the past. That means doing your work, accepting responsibility for your role in your previous marriage, and learning from your mistakes.
If you have unfinished business, you’re not ready to get married again.
- Am I emotionally ready?Part of being emotionally ready will be reflected in your answers to the above questions. And part of it will be reflected in the mirror, so to speak.Do you like yourself? Did you come away from your previous marriage with your self-esteem intact? (Or have you at least worked to restore it?)
Have you done the work to learn conflict-resolution skills so your next relationship has a greater chance of success? Have you learned your lessons and made the necessary adjustments in yourself since your previous marriage?
Have you spent time in therapy or coaching working through past issues that could potentially reappear in any new significant relationship?
Are you able to see and love your new partner as the unique individual that he/she is and not as a comparison to your former spouse?
Finally, are you capable of being alone and feeling content with your life?
- Have I allowed myself enough time to really know this person?If you’re making marriage decisions while still basking in that lusty cocktail of romance hormones, you’re probably rushing things. It takes the better part of a year to really know someone without wearing rose-colored glasses.If you’re still thinking, “Wow! This person is the one I should have been with all along. He/she is perfect!” then you may still be under the influence of lust and attraction. It’s important that two people considering marriage know what it’s like to endure conflicts and crises together.
Are your goals, values, beliefs, and ethics in alignment? And are your conflict-resolution skills on the same page? Do you problem-solve well together?
While time is not a guarantee that two people will or should end up together, it’s certainly a necessity if they desire to end up together. If the thought of taking things slowly makes you uncomfortable, you may be more interested in the idea of marriage than marriage itself.
Coming out of a committed relationship naturally feels disorienting and deflating to all the plans you had for your life. But rushing into another marriage isn’t a quick fix; it can be another train wreck!
If you think you want to get married again, give yourself the benefit of the doubt by getting comfortable with “just you.” Do your work to get over your past relationship and learn from it. Then you will have something strong and vibrant to offer someone who is also preparing for meeting you and developing a committed, long term marriage that’ll last the test of time.