If you’re getting hitched again, here’s how to avoid the pitfalls
Your wedding day should be the happiest day of your life. But if you’re embarking on your second marriage, you may feel more pressure than ever to make it work.
Well, here’s the good news. Despite almost half of marriages now ending in divorce, new research shows that second marriages are statistically more successful than first unions.
But the bad news is that marrying a new partner inevitably comes with baggage.
Whether you’re remarrying at
28 or 78, you may have to consider the feelings of children, either small or adult.
You may be finding your place as part of a newly blended family, trying to get to know new in-laws, wanting to escape the shadow of a previous relationship — happy or otherwise.
Whatever your situation, here are some simple ways to avoid second marriage pitfalls.
Remarrying with kids
When children are in the equation, their feelings are paramount. It can be hard to explain the new situation to them, along with introducing the idea of a new step-parent and possible step-siblings.
Counsellors advise listening to your child’s concerns and spending special time together doing something you both enjoy, whether that’s going for a walk or seeing a film.
This reassures them that things between you won’t change just because you’re getting remarried.
Counsellor Gurpreet Singh, from the relationship charity Relate, says: ‘Allowing each person to build their own relationship with the other is important.
‘It helps each person to understand that you want to maintain your relationship with them — that each is important in their own right and that one does not replace the other.’
Adjusting to new in-laws
A new spouse brings a new circle of family and friends into your life, and it’s possible to have a ‘nightmare’ in-law even when you’re a pensioner yourself.
Ex-partners may be on the scene, along with relatives and friends whose first loyalty lies with them. So how can new spouses navigate potentially choppy waters?
Gurpreet says: ‘Understand that these people are an important part of your partner’s life. Supporting your partner in maintaining contact with their parent or relatives is important. But equally important is your ability to express your own thoughts and feelings.
‘Being proactive in reaching out to these people helps build relationships. However, if you find that the relationship doesn’t work for you, then negotiate something that does work with your partner.’
Overcoming the shadow of abuse
‘Any abusive relationship leaves scars that can be felt long after that relationship is over,’ says Gurpreet. ‘If the hurt feelings and insecurity are not dealt with, they can follow you into the new relationship.
‘The abused partner may feel anxious or isolated, or suffer feelings of low self-worth. They may also struggle with trust and intimacy. They may feel loved but not understood by the other partner. The other partner may want to help but not know how.
‘It’s important to keep talking and giving each other the space to work through feelings. Sometimes support such as counselling may be helpful.’
Marriage rates among over-65s have risen by 41 per cent in men and 56 per cent among women.
Finding love in your later years after divorce or bereavement can be wonderful. But if you’re one of a growing number of ‘silver splicers’, it might also be hard to adjust, especially if adult children and grandchildren are involved.
Gurpreet says: ‘Finding love at any age is something to be celebrated. However, introducing children and grandchildren is a tricky business if it isn’t managed with sensitivity and care. Ground work is important, before any formal introduction takes place.’
Bear in mind that, if you’re getting married in your senior years, you may also have to tackle financial issues — whether you’re mulling over changing your will, or want to safeguard against the financial strain if one or both of you becomes ill.
Gurpreet says: ‘Unmanaged finances create room for misinterpretation and unfulfilled expectations. It’s important to have these conversations openly and honestly.’
Edited by Louise Baty
For more information and advice, visit relate.org.uk