The thought of pre-marital counseling for a second marriage may seem absurd. You may think because it’s your second time around, you already know what mistakes to avoid. It’s like riding a bike, right? You don’t forget how to do that.
The problem is, you're riding an entirely different bike on a road with potentially more speed bumps this time than the first go-round.
Wouldn’t it be wise to be cautious, study the road map carefully, and consider starting this next “ride” with a better foundation?
There are some really good reasons why pre-marital counseling matters – particularly the second time around.
5 Important Reasons to Consider Pre-marital Counseling for Your Second Marriage
1. Unresolved baggage can spell big trouble
Going into a new marriage without figuring out why your previous one failed is unwise. If you don't have a clear understanding of the underlying problems that led to the failure of your former marriage, or if they were just too painful to look at, you're cheating yourself into a false sense of security about your new relationship.
In an ideal world, prior to a final divorce decree, a couple would engage in a few counseling sessions to explore how things went off track and try to gain closure on that relationship. The period of time between separation and final divorce is often fraught with the emotional roller coaster of change. When the dust settles and tempers cool is the ideal time to engage in that process.
But who lives in an ideal world? By the time you've weathered the storm of the separation and divorce, you just want to forget and move on. Being alone is hard for most people, so we feel exhilarated when we meet someone new. And we don't want to waste time talking about past failures and heartaches. That's over, done, gone! The future awaits!
And that takes us to the next reason to seek pre-marital counseling for the second marriage.
2. Not taking your new commitment seriously is foolish
Something called “rebound marriage” does exist. That’s what happens when divorce lowers your self-esteem and then you meet another person who makes you feel good. But that type of relationship simply becomes a feel-good exercise that lacks serious commitment. In contrast, a solid marriage requires deep commitment and constant adaptation to change. You have to be ready to accept the faults and imperfections of your partner. When you don’t take the new marriage seriously, you're more likely to end up with yet another divorce.
Yes, you're older and wiser from the experience gained in your first marriage, but a second marriage holds potential challenges you have not yet experienced.
3. An ex-spouse (or two) is part of the equation
Ex-spouses can create problems in either direction. Either you or your new spouse may have a strained relationship with the ex-spouse. They might make negotiations about custody harder or fight with you about wanting more money. Both of you need a full understanding of the status of relationships with the ex-spouse.
On the other hand, there may be too much contact with your ex-mate(s), which could hinder creating a close relationship in your new marriage. Not having truly let go of your prior marriage(s) can result in jealousy and resentment by your new spouse. In any case, healthy boundaries and appropriate contacts with your ex are important considerations.
4. Blending families can be challenging
There may also be children involved this time around. If your children are younger, you will have to figure out how to handle things like visitations, living situations, or discipline. You must also be prepared to deal with problems, such as your children not getting along with your new spouse. They may demand priority time from you, leaving your new mate feeling like they’re being neglected or in the middle of a constant tug-of-war.
Don't underestimate this challenge! If you feel that you have to choose between your children and your new spouse, or vice-versa, you will find yourself in an impossible quandary. Clear the air on this issue as much as possible before committing to the new relationship.
5. Issues pertaining to money can blow up
Money disputes are one of the top reasons for divorce. It can be a highly emotional and explosive topic even in a first marriage, and the potential for problems is even higher in a second marriage. For example, your divorce may have left you financially crippled. If your second marriage fails, too, things may become even worse. Money becomes a matter of emotional security for you. But if your new spouse has a mindset of “my money – your money”, it can leave you feeling insecure. It seems that your mate is only out to protect themselves, not you.
Or, perhaps you both are older, have established careers, and are both financially independent. Adopting the mindset of “our money” may be extremely hard. However, sharing assets is part of marital intimacy and sharing your life. Don't go into a new marriage with the assumption that it will all just work out. It might, but it probably won't! Have a clear understanding of each other's expectations.
It is easy to believe that the second time around, you know what you're doing. And it's true that you have some experience, but don't be lulled into complacency. When you take the above considerations to heart, pre-marital counseling doesn’t seem quite as “crazy” as it may have appeared to you at first. After all, you want to ensure that this time, the “ride” takes you all the way to the finish.