Love me, love my dog – how to improve the chances of a having lasting relationship

I’m going to introduce you to Hilary and Keith, May and Allan – two couples rocking their second marriages.  As I have shared before, my dating history post-divorce is small and I haven’t experienced a lasting relationship, so this blog will rely on the stories of others. What can we learn from them about how to improve the chances of a lasting relationship?

What are the chances of success for a second relationship?

In drafting this blog, I started with: The statistics aren’t good. You may have heard from American statistics ‘50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.’1 I don’t know what the official stats are for Australia but they are not inspiring. It raises the question: How do you make your new relationship last? (Most of us don’t date just for the fun of it. There is an expectation to explore the relationship to see if it will be a life partnership.)

But then I found an article quoting UK statistics saying ‘45 per cent of first marriages end in divorce, but only 31 percent of second marriages will end in failure. Couples benefit from age and experience, and are more ready to commit.’2 However, they note ‘second marriages can be particularly problematic when there are children from previous marriages.3 See resources.

Some examples of successful second relationships

Hilary and Keith

Hilary and Keith have just celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Both had been married before. One had a short marriage and had been single for many years; the other a long marriage and a shorter time being single. They both had teenage children when they met, so blending a family has been part of their journey. Their marriage has experienced pressures and problems, but they were both determined to make the marriage work. Through love for each other, they were able to overcome the initial problems and now say it was worth going through the tough times.

Their advice:

Take time to get to know each other and your respective families before making a decision to marry (they waited nearly two years). Be honest with each other about what you want for the future. Put time into the relationship, especially during the turbulent early years, and attend marriage-strengthening courses/retreats.

May and Allan

May and Allan married five years ago. May’s journey after divorce included being single again for thirty-five years and needing a long, slow healing process to learn to trust again. She had built up walls to keep men out and avoided contact with any males. Over a ten-year period God put safe people into her life, beginning with children and their families. In stages she learned to let people in and connect with them. Eventually she met Allan, a widower who had been married for forty-two years, and they began to date.

Their advice:

You need to work at helping each other to understand the other person. Because he had been a long time married and she a long-time single, they saw the world differently. Work at seeing life from the other’s point of view.

So how do you improve the chances of having a lasting relationship?

  • Don’t rush. Allow time to get to know the person through different seasons including holidays and times of stress. In times of overload and pain our true character may be revealed.
  • Get to know the person. See them in different situations. Get to know their friends. How do they relate to others? How do they handle their finances? How’s their relationship with God if this is important to you? For me – how do they relate to my dog! Use your checklist from the last blog Waiting to date as a guide.
  • Develop your communication skills. With past hurts that may push your buttons and the complexities of relationship (ex’s, children, family networks) learn how manage conflict and fight fair. Listen without reacting and speak your needs clearly.
  • Guard your boundaries – both personal and sexual
  • Get to know their family of origin and children if they have them. I can laugh as I write this because if someone were to look at my family of origin, they would see some issues there. However, they can also look at me and see that I have dealt with some of the problems from my past – always a work in progress though!
  • Remember that your actions affect others, especially if you have children. I have seen the sadness in my kids when a good male friend moved interstate. How much harder would it be for them to ‘lose’ a male I had spent lots of family time with in dating?
  • Learn about blending a family if this is part of the equation. See resources

According to friends, loving again is worth the risk but you have to do your homework. Prepare for and enjoy the chance to love again if it happens to come your way.

Putting legs on it

If you are dating, reflect on the relationship using the ideas in this blog. Make changes as required.

If it is important to you – do they love your dog?

 

Resources for blending families

Consider this quote: ‘Essentially, the remarried family’s unanticipated and difficult job is to leave behind many of their old assumptions about how a ‘real family’ — i.e., a traditional first-marriage family — is supposed to operate and get to work on self-consciously planning, designing and building an entirely new kind of family structure that will meet their own unique requirements.’4

Blended Not Shaken Ministries: Christian step/single parent and blended family ministries

Resources

Psychology Today: High Failure rate of second and third marriages

References

  1. M Banschick, High Failure rate of second and third marriages, Psychology Today, 2012, viewed 7 June 2017 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201202/the-high-failure-rate-second-and-third-marriages
  2. F Macrae, Couples in second marriages are ‘less likely to get divorced’ because they benefit from experience of the first, Daily Mail UK, 2013, UK, viewed 7 June 2017 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2316323/Couples-second-marriages-likely-divorced-benefit-experience-first.html
  3. F Macrae, Couples in second marriages are ‘less likely to get divorced’ because they benefit from experience of the first, Daily Mail UK, 2013, UK, viewed 7 June 2017 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2316323/Couples-second-marriages-likely-divorced-benefit-experience-first.html
  4. M Scarfe, Why second marriage are more perilous, Time, 2013 viewed 7 June 2017 http://ideas.time.com/2013/10/04/why-second-marriages-are-more-perilous/

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