A primary reason for the high failure rate of second marriages is that they often start for the wrong reason. Experts Les and Leslie Parrott provide a list of some of really bad reasons for remarriage:
•Love at first sight: It seems romantic, but the Parrotts warn that this hormonally-based motivator is “not a good predictor of marital success,” especially for second marriages. Wanting your second marriage to be somehow “magically different” from your first typically results with a nightmare ending.
•On the rebound: The Parrotts explain that “people tend to fall in love more easily when they have been recently rejected by someone they once loved.” But rebound marriages are usually “a reaction to a previous partner, rather than being based on real love for the new one.”
Generally, people need at least three years to fully deal with the wounds suffered from a divorce. Rebounding into remarriage usually results in re-divorce.
•Rebellion: The Parrotts warn that marrying someone your ex dislikes, to get even or prove your independence, “is not uncommon, but it's always costly.” You and your new spouse have a common enemy (your ex), but rebellion is like rebound marriages: They're marriages based on “a response to someone else rather than to one's partner.”
•Loneliness: Divorce and widowhood can bring a profound sense of loneliness. But loneliness makes a poor foundation for a new marriage. The institution of marriage does not prevent loneliness; people can even feel lonely in a crowd. The cure for loneliness is establishing a strong relationship, which takes time. If you're lonely, first build a healthy relationship and then think about marriage.
•Obligation: Marrying because you believe your children need another parent or because you want to rescue a friend whose spouse has died creates fragile marriages. Strong marriages are built on strong relationships, not on a desire to “help” someone else.
•Financial advancement: When money motivates remarriage, it usually leads to problems. The Parrotts warn this is especially true for “young divorced mothers who consider remarriage primarily because they are exhausted from the struggle of supporting and caring for their small children.” Children need a loving bond between husband and wife more than financial security.
•Sexual attraction: Sexual attraction and guilt over an affair are popular, but very weak, reasons for remarriage. The Parrotts note, “Sex is not a sufficient reason to marry and seldom leads to lifelong happiness.” Hormonal highs “often blind the partners to other important relational qualities” and wear off after about 12 to 18 months.
•Escape: Marrying to escape a bad situation or a boring life is “a terrible basis for marriage.” The Parrotts describe this as “perhaps the most damaging motivation for remarriage.” Strong marriages are based on loving bonds that pull people together, not on an effort to escape something else.
•Pressure: Parents and friends often push divorced or widowed people into remarriage. But outside pressure never creates the strong relationship needed to make a healthy marriage.
Second marriages succeed only when they begin for the right reasons: The couple takes the time to develop real friendship and love, with a heavy dose of mutual respect and caring. Before you remarry, make sure it's for the right reasons.
©2013, All Rights Reserved. James Sheridan’s website is www.marriagedoneright.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.