Marriage Tip: In a second marriage, be “all in” instead of trying to protect yourself… and don’t believe the myth of the high divorce rate.
If you’re on your second marriage, you’ve probably heard – many times! – that your odds aren’t good. Maybe your first marriage ended in divorce and you entered a new union already feeling a little nervous. And then you hear everywhere that 60 percent (or more) of second marriages end in divorce.
Talk about a self-fulfilling prophesy! Hearing those numbers, folks who are remarried often feel, I want to be fully committed, but I also have to be wise. And if most remarriages really don’t make it, I should probably take some steps to protect myself and my children.
If you want a healthy, happy second marriage, however, you need a radical rethink.
First, you need to know that the notion of a 60 percent second marriage divorce rate appears to be a pure urban legend! I spent eight years investigating the complex world of marriage and divorce data to dig out the truth about this and other discouraging “facts”, and the sources routinely quoted for that stat simply don’t exist. The truth isn’t perfect, but it is much better. According to 2009 Census Bureau surveys, 65 percent of women are still married to their second spouse – and the 35 percent who aren’t, includes widows! So probably closer to 30 percent of second marriages have ended in divorce.
Although any amount of divorce is too high, those of you who are remarried need to know the truth: you would be very unusual if you didn’t make it!
So second, what do you do with that?
Well, you know all those actions you are tempted to take to protect yourself? Like keeping the little bank account on the side? Or holding back emotionally, just a bit? Or keeping an eye out for signs that it is all going to go wrong?
Don’t hold back, be ultra-watchful, or make those “just in case” plans. In my research with thousands of men and women over twelve years, it is clear that those things build a wall between you and your spouse, and create a lack of trust. All too often, they create the very problems you’re trying to protect yourself from!
Instead, let down your guard and be fully vulnerable. Take a deep breath and give your spouse access to all your bank accounts. Let them know your passwords, and tell them they can look at your text messages or emails any time if they want to. Share life with each other, first and foremost, instead of keeping unhealthy old friendships so you preserve (in your way of thinking) just a little bit of yourself in case it all goes wrong.
Marriage only works right when we are “all in,” bonded to our mate, and fully committed for life, no matter what. In my research it is clear that the couples who become the happiest in their marriages, get to that point because they are completely vulnerable and risk everything. And in a wonderful paradox – especially for those who are on their second go-round — taking what seems like a big risk instead gives them the greatest security.
Join us next week for insight into finding peace in your communication with your spouse.
Drawn from Chapter 5 of The Good News About Marriage, by Shaunti Feldhahn.
Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages and her newest, The Good News About Marriage. A Harvard-trained social researcher and speaker, her ﬁndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Shaunti speaks regularly at churches, conferences, and corporate events. (Inquire about Shaunti speaking, or visit www.shaunti.com for more.)
The post originally ran at the Christian Post for Marriage Mondays.
Welcome to Marriage Mondays! Each Monday, join us here in the Book Corner as I share my top findings on the little, eye-opening things that make a big difference in creating great marriages and relationships. Today’s post is one of a series on what makes happy marriages so happy, based on nationally-representative research with more than 1,000 couples.