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dancersSecond Marriages, Third Mortgages and Numerous Step-Children
by Marjorie Dorfman

Are you about to cross the threshold of matrimony for the second or even third time? Do you feel like you learned what went wrong before or are you just a glutton for punishment? Study your odds (and ends) for success in the following article. Remember to look before you leap and that he who hesitates is lost. If you are still confused, at least sit back and enjoy the article.

Marrying for the second time is like a murderer returning to the scene of a crime. . . . The Dorfman Archives

I am probably the last soul on earth qualified to discuss second marriages as I only did it once. Although I have always despised being a statistic, my divorce places me among and amuck the fifty to sixty per cent of all first marriages that end in divorce. Still, don’t ignore my perspective, especially since I have lived vicariously over the years through first, second and sometimes even the third divorces of many friends and relatives. I just happened to stop after one. (I’ve never been very good at numbers, and when I might have remarried they came out with that pill which reduced the symptoms of "marriage fever.") This is America. All perspectives, stooped and conquered, offer help and resolution.

wedding All that being said, second marriages promise hope, renewal and personal happiness. Whether remarriage occurs before the seven-year itch or after a fifteen-year hitch, people burn bridges, grow up, fall down, get up and start all over again. The attitude is fine, but statistics indicate that seventy-five per cent of people who get divorced the first time eventually remarry, and sixty to seventy per cent of all remarriages end in divorce. When there are no children involved, the process is usually smoother because it can mean a clean break and not a recurring fracture with complications. For both men and women, the new mate must come first in a second marriage just as the mortgage payment must precede that dream walking trip in search of Yeti across the Himalayan mountainside.

One of the most important questions facing a remarriage is whether or not the new mate and their former spouse are emotionally divorced. This runs much deeper than legal papers and signatures along dotted lines. In fact, it can run a destructive course way below the level of what meets the eye. It usually takes longer than the legalities; often involving deep-seated resentments and unresolved issues on both sides. It is the place of the ex-mate to establish boundaries between the new life and the old, even if they must be pounded and pounded again into not so dear and not so little ears.
lady with hope
Along with boundaries comes something Aretha Franklin used to refer to quite clearly: a little respect. This means you as the second spouse as well as all those residing in the enemy camp. If you must play, then do it by the rules. A marriage always takes two, whether it succeeds or fails. Respect and accept your new spouse’s children, even if you mutter their names in murderous effigy whenever you are alone. They are the innocent products and constant reminders of a marriage that didn’t work and whose failure was not their fault. Not taking things personally can help matters, although sometimes that is easier said than done. The children may want their parents back together again and if they do, they are entitled to their feelings. Blood is thicker than water, and remember that if it wasn’t your face used as the target of the darts thrown in the family room, it would be the face of some other unsuspecting girl or boy-friend, wife or husband.

Your new love may or may not be here to stay as the old song goes, but the ex-spouse and whatever history they shared with your new mate always will be. (It’s like headaches and diarrhea. They reoccur even though there’s a cure.) This may be difficult to accept, but necessary to insure a healthy relationship for all concerned. Communication is also vital, but once again, boundaries must be set. The second spouse must let the new mate know about what is comfortable and what isn’t. People aren’t mind readers and even if something should seem obvious, for those involved in the tangled web of former spouses, sometimes only the spiders can be seen. Tell him or her. Be reasonable, but don’t be a dishrag. If you do, you will find yourself with more and more dishes to wash.

The holidays are the bane of almost all second marriages because they heighten the tension among parents, stepchildren and former spouses in the divorce game of "Guess Who’s Not Coming To Dinner!" Since sixty-five per cent of all remarriages involve children from former unions, things can get very dicey. (I am not referring to carrots or onions either). Be creative and find new ways to celebrate if one’s spouse or children must be away for the holidays. The dates don’t count as much as the celebration and meaning behind it. I used to meet an old friend every New Years Eve for a drink for almost twenty years. Whenever I would raise my glass in a toast to a new year, he would always say: "It’s only Tuesday night. Every day is the start of a new year." Don’t get hung up on dates. You can have just as much fun the night before and after the holiday and it will probably be cheaper too.

Stepchildren and former spouses are only two of the problems confronting a second marriage and the attempt to start all over again. Very often, it means a new home, sometimes in a new location, and a total upheaval of the life that once was. This can be a good thing or bad, depending on what the situation was before and what expectations have been fulfilled.

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humor middle age
"The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age."
Lucille Ball in Uncommon Scold by Abby Adams

"The best way to forget your troubles is to wear tight shoes."
. . . Anonymous

Don't miss this excellent book:

What No one Tells The Bride

A sane, funny and insightful look into marriage. It explores the feelings of independent women who are entering into a commitment that fosters dependence.

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