From Dr. Jane's Notebook
Marriage The Second Time Around
The fallout from divorce is like the tide of the ocean. It returns in continuous
waves--- constantly leaving its mark on the sand and yielding a variety of surprises.
While divorce is usually entered into as the solution to a problem, many more long-range
problems are the actual result.
In my practice, I work with couples of all ages who are veterans of first marriages,
and who would like to make it "work" on their second or third
"go-rounds", but the task is not an easy one. Here are a few thoughts on the
- First marriages last a lifetime. Any marriage which has lasted more than a year has left
its mark. When we make a commitment, and then lose at love, the devastation is great. Gone
is the trust, gone is innocence. We begin to think in terms of what we don't want, and any
reminder of the past relationship raises a "red flag".
- When we have been hurt in relationships, we put up great barriers. Having been hurt
before, we shun any potential pain. We develop a reflex to "get out before its too
late". This often prevents any possibility for getting close to another individual,
and learning to work through problems.
- Children are a lifetime commitment. Once we have children, our loyalty and allegiance to
them becomes unshakable. Any potential new spouse must recognize that their loved one is
part of a package-deal. Likewise, once a family, always a family... and that includes the
ex-spouse. You will always remain co-parents. As the saying goes, divorce may end a
marriage, but it doesn't end the family.
- It is very difficult to shift lifestyles. When one has been a successful single, it is
very difficult to give up that independence and take the risk of re-coupling. Survival as
a single requires that we establish a lifestyle that suits our needs. Once you have that
lifestyle, it is not much fun to compromise on your way of doing things.
- Recoupling is a monumental task. When you've been accustomed to a one-person clock and
calendar, it is no longer easy to share time and space on a continuous basis. Independence
allows us to address our own needs, and requires that we respect only our needs. If
re-coupling means a loss of the ability to make your own decisions, and the loss of the
lifestyle that you've worked hard to develop... it will not work. Rightly so, marriage
should represent the positive addition of another person in your life, rather than the
loss of one's freedom and self-esteem.
Successful marriage requires a "course" in problem-solving and communication.
As long as both partners are willing to participate, it is possible to "pass with
flying colors". But if there is no democratic process, just a game with one set of
rules (his or hers), someone will feel they are losing... and then both will lose the
relationship. Remarriage is a different ballgame, but if entered into with an open mind
and open communication, it is possible to win BIG!
ęCopyright, 1991, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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Last Updated October 17, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon,