Sitting alone on the edge of the bed, in the spare room my friend had graciously allowed me to stay in, I was shell shocked. I had just taken my sons back to their mom’s house. My house. At least it used to be mine. I was still paying the bills there. The lines were blurred. My marriage was over. That night I made myself a promise; things would be different the second time around. If there was another time around.

Learn from the Past – Take it Slow

I got married for the first time when I was 22 years-old. I had just completed 3 years of volunteer work that provided me with the opportunity to travel the world to places like the Amazon River, the beautiful city of Istanbul, and many points between. It was during this volunteer work that I became infatuated with a young lady working for the same organization. We bonded over our love of travel and the desire to change the world. As our time with the organization was ending, I was making plans to continue volunteering for another year with a different branch. My girlfriend had different plans. She wanted to go back home and get back to “normal life.” I gave up my plans and decided to go with her.

This was the beginning of my habit of sacrificing my vision for the sake of appeasing her. A year later we were married. Fast forward 10 years, and there I am sitting on the edge of that bed, alone and divorced.

There is obviously much more to that story, but looking back I can see that I wasn’t ready to be married. You hear people say things like, “I was too young to be married.” But, that’s not what I mean. I wasn’t ready because I didn’t have a real sense of self.

It’s important to know what direction you want your life to go in before you try to partner with someone else. This may seem obvious but when you’re knee deep in the new and exciting phase of a relationship, it’s easy to dismiss conventional wisdom.

Many people told me to wait, don’t rush to get married. I ignored them all. The lesson here is to take it slow the second time around. Use your time alone to do some self-evaluation.

Be Honest About Your Own Mistakes

I got married, for the second time, six months ago. My wife was also married once before. Early in our relationship we would often talk about our past marriages and the hurt we had experienced. We would vent to each other about how difficult our exes were. I found comfort in the way she understood my side of the story.

My wife is always quick to admit her own faults in her previous marriage. At first, I was surprised by this but, it was refreshing. Knowing that she didn’t fully blame her ex for everything that went wrong helped me to trust her. That also made it easy for me to be honest about my own shortcomings.

We all know that nobody is perfect. When a relationship between two people dissolves, both parties are responsible (even if your ex is 99% at fault). I am not saying you must fully confess everything you did wrong in the past. However, you should be honest with yourself about those things. And when the time is right, you should share those things with the new woman in your life.

The trust that this type of sharing builds is key to laying a good foundation for your marriage. If you choose to hide your faults and bad mouth your ex constantly, you may find yourself repeating your past mistakes.

The trust that this type of sharing builds is key to laying a good foundation for your marriage. If you choose to hide your faults and bad mouth your ex constantly, you may find yourself repeating your past mistakes. For more on making things right when you’re wrong, check out this article by Sheri Stritof: When You Are Wrong – Make Things Right.

How’s Your Communication the Second Time Around?

You’ve met an attractive woman. You have fun together and you feel comfortable with her. She even has you thinking about buying a ring. Before you drop down on one knee, ask yourself this question, “How is our communication?” Initial attraction, chemistry, and all that are great, and even necessary. But, if your communication is weak, your relationship will be weak too. Think about the things you talk about with her. Is it all surface level? When you are frustrated or feeling irritable, how does the conversation go then?

My wife and I decided, at the beginning of our relationship, that we were going to talk about everything. No games. If she’s mad, she tells me. If I am upset or worried, I let her know. In my first marriage, I was reluctant to share these things because I didn’t want to seem weak. Now, the second time around, I see that this sort of vulnerability is a strengthening force in our marriage.

Good communication isn’t just about sharing the hard and negative emotions. We share the good stuff too. As guys, it’s easy for us to forget to tell our wives how we feel. I make it a point to tell my wife when I think she looks good. There have been times I have sent her a text just to say I am grateful for her. She does the same. We are not perfect, but this type of communication keeps our bond tight when we are navigating the daily challenges of raising children and paying bills.

Good communication isn’t just about sharing the hard and negative emotions. We share the good stuff too. As guys, it’s easy for us to forget to tell our wives how we feel. I make it a point to tell my wife when I think she looks good. There have been times I have sent her a text just to say I am grateful for her. She does the same. We are not perfect, but this type of communication keeps our bond tight when we are navigating the daily challenges of raising children and paying bills.

We are not perfect, but this type of communication keeps our bond tight when we are navigating the daily challenges of raising children and paying bills.

Don’t Be Afraid of Marrying a Woman with Children

My wife and I both have two kids from previous relationships. Some of our friend and family have asked us, “What the heck were you thinking?” If we’re honest, both of us have wondered the same thing at times. But, the fact that my wife had her own children before we got together has been the most surprising benefit in our marriage.

Because she is a mom, she understands what my children need. She is not jealous of the time I need to spend with my sons. In fact, she helps me be a better, more involved father. From birthday party planning, to keeping track of school events, I could not do it without her.

I know many divorced men who wouldn’t even consider a woman with her own children. But, if you have children of your own, I think you should keep an open mind. Sometimes your hard and fast rules will limit your opportunities. Never say never, in other words, be open to meeting new people who already have kids. The rewards can outweigh the challenges.

Getting It Right the Second Time Around

So many people have shared statistics with me about the failure of second marriages. Even well-meaning friends have expressed doubts. All of them overlook one important thing, we have a choice. A divorce is an opportunity to learn and reset. If you are fortunate enough to have found someone you want to marry, don’t let statistics and fear hold you back. You have a unique opportunity to build the type of relationship you want. Those of us who have been divorced are not disqualified from happiness.

You have a unique opportunity to build the type of relationship you want. Those of us who have been divorced are not disqualified from happiness. At minimum, we’ve learned about not to do. Remember to take it slow, admit your faults, communicate, and keep an open mind. These steps are not a guaranteed roadmap to success, but they should help you get it right the second time around.

 

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