By Anne Shale   |   May 19th, 2012

Marriage: Better the Second Time Around?

Is Marriage Better the Second Time Around? Or, Are Second Marriages More Successful than First Marriages?

marriageMany years ago, a singing icon and legend, Frank Sinatra, released a song entitled “The Second Time Around”…..its words begin as follows—“Love is lovelier the second time around; Just as wonderful with both feet on the ground; It’s that second time you hear your love song sung……..Makes you think perhaps that love, like you, is wasted on the young”…he goes on to praise the greatness of second-time relationships. But, what are the facts about second marriages?  Do they fare well or do they fare poorly?

On September 15, 2011, Lisa Helfend Meyer posted an article entitled, “Second Marriage for Better or Worse”. The author and family law attorney stated that while 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce, the failure rate is even higher for second marriages with 60 percent ending in divorce.

While one would think that the individual having one failed marriage would be more cautious, more careful, more selective in choosing a new mate, research studies reflect that most divorced individuals become lonely and needy and want to be back in a relationship.  Hence, they often jump from “the frying pan into the fire” by marrying a person with the same or similar personality traits as their first mate!

Second marriages may also come with “baggage” unlike first marriages.

Some examples include the following:

  • Each party may come to the second marriage with children from the prior marriage, which is termed a “blended family”.  This situation can have attendant problems:  Do the parties have the same family values and parenting styles?  Do the parties have the same views about family rules and discipline?  Do the parties have the same views regarding getting good grades and excelling in school and sports?  If you have parties who do not have the same parenting styles and who do not have the same views regarding discipline, they are just asking for conflict between themselves and between the children.  If Susie Smith is allowed to have unlimited sodas and sweets but Joe Brown is not allowed to have any soft drinks and encouraged to have healthy fruit snacks only, there will be problems.  And, if Susie Smith is allowed unlimited access to television or the internet and Joe Brown is not, there will be conflict.  Joe is going to resent Susie.  Susie is not going to want to be parented by Joe’s father.  Or, if one party believes in “time outs” only as discipline and the other party believes in corporal punishment and that spanking is “okay,” the parties are asking for conflict and disagreement.
  • Each party may come to the second marriage with feelings of mistrust and financial problems related to the first divorce.  If either party was “guilty” of infidelity in the first marriage, the new spouse may be overly concerned about infidelity occurring again in the second marriage.  Money is one of the top issues in family angst.  If one party enters a second marriage feeling as if he/she has just been “taken to the cleaners” with the first marriage, there may be conflict on how the money shall be spent, how the bills will be paid, what savings can be had, etc.

It is not unusual to have a second Wife prevail upon her second Husband to return to Court to seek a decrease in spousal support or child support being channeled to the first Wife.  You can certainly imagine the displeasure and anger that would be experienced by Wife #1.  First, she may have lost her Husband to the second Wife due to an alleged affair; and, now, the second Wife wants a greater slice of the financial pie.

Attorney L.H. Meyer recommends that divorced parties thinking about a second marriage do the following:

  • Talk, talk, talk and discuss, discuss, discuss.  Be an “open book” about your
    values, your parenting styles, and your expectations about a second marriage. Do NOT rush into a second marriage because you are feeling lonely!
  • Examine the rationale for the failure of the first marriage.  In most situations, both parties bear some responsibility for the “break up” of the marriage.
  • Explore your own personality and potential failings…what role did your behavior play in the failure of the first marriage?  What can you do to be a healthier person and a healthier partner?
  • Consider individual and/or joint marital or pre-marital counseling to fully discuss all potential issues before the second marriage occurs.
  • Consider a Pre-nuptial Agreement to establish individual assets and liabilities before the second marriage occurs and to consider possible remedies or consequences in the event of death of a party or divorce.

The attorneys at Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues are experienced with these issues and are ready, willing, and able to discuss them with you.  We want your second marriage to be successful!

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Anne ShaleAbout The Author: Anne Shale
Anne Shale is of counsel to Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues. She is a former registered nurse and concentrates her practice in Family Law and Divorce cases.

Marriage: Better the Second Time Around?
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