Before you take the plunge and decide to remarry, it is important that you are well-informed of what unique challenges lay ahead of your bold, life-changing commitment.
Remarriage can be a whole new ball game, especially when children are involved. So making sure you cover your bases before saying "I do" is pivotal.
Whether you are engaged or inching towards that milestone, here are seven essential points you should know before heading to the altar again.
1. Consider what (or who) went wrong
Figuring out why your prior marriage crumbled is key to building a durable future. If you have endured the loss of a spouse, such reflection might not be necessary.
While you may be sure why you divorced, it is still worth questioning your assumptions. Reflect on past acts and consider what choices could have made for better outcomes.
Yet we oversimplify things to ask, "was I the victim or villain?" or "was I the reasonable, responsible one?"
Divorce is complex, sometimes messy, and seldom one person's "fault." Still, taking responsibility for your decisions—good or bad—is paramount.
2. Date for at least 24 months before remarrying
Dating for 24 months before getting married a second time gives you a chance to better understand your prospective life partner, far beyond the surface level.
Proceed with caution
Avoid the trap of rushing into remarriage to escape loneliness. Instead, allow yourself time to heal from past traumas while preparing to enter the next chapter of your life.
When you marry your partner, you marry their family, too. How well do you get along with your future in-laws? If you find them offensive, figure that into your decision-making.
Remarrying might start smooth only to veer off-track.
It does not just befall other newlyweds.
Any couple can go through hard times—banal, clichéd hard times. Since kids and other factors might be involved, remarriage requires more than just love.
Prepare for a blended family
As you think hard on remarriage and existing children, approach dating intending to make the stepchild and stepparent relationship strong.
Stepparenting is honorable, yet demanding. More so with young children, since they build emotional attachments fast, while older kids take longer adjusting.
According to the American Psychological Association, the ideal time for a parent with young children to remarry is before their child turns 10 or after their child reaches 15 years old.
Adolescents age 10 to 14 have the most trouble adjusting, children under 10 are most accepting, and teenagers 15 and above are least demanding.
3. Have you fallen for the wrong type?
Most divorcees will tell you the reasons they broke off their marriage was because of abuse, infidelity, financial trouble, or non-stop arguing, among others.
Before remarrying, ask yourself if you are falling for the wrong men or women who do not fulfill you. Are they marrying you for false reasons, such as money, intimacy, or loneliness?
But that assessment may be too harsh.
Let us insert a tinge of nuance…
Just because someone seeks financial security, affection, and companionship does not make them false, insincere, or bad. They may become wonderful, loving partners.
Yet trouble arises when that becomes their primary goal.
Avoid duplicating your last marriage by comparing it to your current relationship. Are there similarities? Study your partner's behavior. Have they upset you like past relations?
Steer clear of these three key mistakes:
- Do not let your heart get broken rushing into the void.
- Do not get sucked in by lovesick nostalgia.
- Do not get trapped and bound.
Do your due diligence (to the best of your ability) to avoid falling for the wrong person. Whatever the outcome, lovely or post-marriage blues, at least you put in the work.
4. Sort out name change issues
From the moment you tie the knot, filing your name change paperwork is a thrilling but serious undertaking. Together with your partner, weigh what works best for each of you.
Settling on your new remarried name
Even more options exist…
Decide early, decide well
Commit to a new name that strengthens your union, but avoid indecision or postponement, especially if you trigger deadlines by starting and stopping the name change process.
Offended exes, spouses, and kids
Name change has a unique problem that only applies to second marriages and beyond: what if you want to keep your prior spouse's last name? (This is still your name, too.)
Getting remarried and keeping your divorced ex's name risks offending your ex, your ex's spouse or partner, and your new spouse.
They might think it weird that you:
- Have not changed your name after divorced.
- Still do not plan to change your name after remarrying.
Yet changing your name might risk alienating your kids, who want or expect solidarity through a shared last name. At least for a while longer.
This dilemma has no brilliant solution.
But there is one absolute truth: only you have the power to decide your name change.
5. Consider your kids' losses
There is enormous pressure on children, even in stable marriages. Kids can become torn between their parents; gravitating more towards one over the other.
Divorce could amplify this partiality.
Dating after divorce may be a roller coaster of fun and promise, but it could crush your kids' hopes of seeing their parents reconciling. Your prior spouse's absence is now real.
Before you commit to another marriage, consider the acute impact and sense of loss your new spouse may have on your children.
You may have to postpone remarriage until your kids have gone to college or moved out. Always stay mindful and sympathetic towards how this affects them.
Above all, never rush your children into acceptance when they are still grieving.
6. Do not expect too much from your kids
Chances are you are so in love you believe your future spouse will love your children as you do. While stepparents can build powerful bonds, it will not match the bond you have built.
Parenting becomes a Rorschach test
Your children may seem like spoiled brats or self-centered teens to your future spouse, but to you, they are the same tiny tykes who used to curl up in your arms with a bedtime story.
Contribute or stay in your lane
Your new spouse becomes a stepparent by default. They are not the biological parent, but they must parent. Yet their approach could alienate you and your kids.
Or they might choose to hush and keep the peace. Go along to get along. Share nothing, assert nothing. Do not challenge the status quo until the kids either mature or vacate.
Who is this scoundrel?
Your kids may look upon their new stepparent as a rival, swooping in like a vulture to take the place of their real parent. Acceptance, resentment, and loyalties collide.
What foul Night of the Hunter imaginings rummage through youngsters' minds?
Perhaps, in the immortal words of Ashe:
Talking with my motherAshe. Lyrics to "Moral of the Story." Genius, 2019, genius.com/Ashe-moral-of-the-story-lyrics.
SheI said, "Where'd you find this guy?"
Said, "Some people fall in love
With the wrong people sometimes"
Remarriage is a threat to their world.
Choose war, mom, dad, faux-parent, junior
Not every parent, stepparent, and stepchild household devolves into open warfare. Earlier point #2 (dating for 24 months before getting remarried) could help here.
And woe is you if step-siblings are involved.
Parenting in a blended family can be tricky to navigate. Understanding each person's point of view—parents and kids—fosters goodwill and consensus.
7. Remarriage comes with new obstacles
Before you commit yourself to another marriage, figure out what you are committing to—your marriage or children.
The ghost of your previous marriage could haunt you, especially if there were unpleasant experiences. You might not realize how it could affect your new marriage.
The important point is to avoid over-interpreting your next marriage with memories of the prior. Otherwise, you might harm what you have now.
The decision to remarry will bring grand challenges and rewards. You will have plenty of work to do keeping your family afloat this second, third, or fourth walk down the aisle.
Let us summarize the key points covered…
Acknowledge — Recognize what went wrong in your earlier marriage before getting married again, making sure you are not repeating history.
Patience — Take your time—date for at least 24 months—and make sure that you have fallen in love with a suitable partner who reflects and respects your values and ambitions.
Kids — Heed the impact your remarriage will have on kids and stepchildren, and consider changing your name if tensions arise between ex-spouses.
You can remarry with confidence if you know what to guard against. Believe in second chances and knock out whatever obstacle stands in your way.