Why More Second Marriages Fail: Points To Consider

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Second marriages have a higher rate of divorce that first marriages!

With the divorce rate as high as it is right now, ‘second marriages’ are an almost inevitable result for many people after divorce. in that same light, however, it’s no secret that second marriages fail more often than first marriages in Oakland County and elsewhere in Michigan.

That begs the question of:why? Why is it that in almost every other area of life we get better at something the more we do it, and yet marriage doesn’t seem to apply? Logic would suggest that having failed at it the first time, this would give us more wisdom and experience to bring to the table the second time around. As it turns out, though, this often isn’t the case.

Current statistics show that between 40 and 60% of second marriages end in divorce, depending on who you talk to. Either way, this means that there is a considerably higher rate of marital failure the second time around. But how does this happen? What are we doing wrong? Is there something in our drinking water in Oakland County? We looked at what a few marital experts had to say, and put together a short overview for you.  

No ‘honeymoon phase’ here…

First marriages tend to begin with a period in which couples can get to know each other better. A time when they can familiarize themselves with each other’s habits and quirks. Also, a time when they can develop greater trust, intimacy and friendship before children are introduced to the picture. Second marriages, however, rarely have that luxury.

Most second marriages don’t get that grace period. They often start right off with children, many of which are often reluctant to accept the new spouse (and can sometimes be openly hostile). This brings major stress to the relationship from the very beginning. Add to that angry exes, child support payments, co-parenting issues, and mixed households to deal with, and couples in a second marriage can start out feeling like the deck is stacked against them.

Marital baggage got you down?

According to Judith Wallerstein, author and divorce psychologist, another reasons is ‘ghosts’. No, not Casper and his ilk, but rather the ghosts of your former marriage. People who have been married before tend to go into the second marriage already familiar with marital failure and divorce, so it takes less of a push to send a couple headed in that direction.

The saying “once burned, twice shy” captures this idea exactly. People who have endured infidelity, major communication breakdowns, a spouse’s midlife crises, or extended periods of loneliness and un-fulfillment, tend to expect the worst. After all, it’s already happened once…

Once more for the record…

According to Professor Larry Ganong, a board member on the Council of Contemporary Families, people who have been divorced before often see the signs of a struggling marriage sooner, and choose to opt out instead of working to save their marriage.

Skip Burzumato, assistant director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, supports this. Because our culture no longer attaches any stigma to divorce, people who have been divorced once before often don’t feel that doing it again is all that big of a deal.

Gender equality and divorce.

According to author and social historian Stephanie Coontz, changing gender roles and also fluctuations in the economy play an important role in why so many second marriages fail. Women no longer need a man to provide for them financially, and men no longer need a woman to keep a home and receive better raises and promotions at work.

In addition, divorce laws are changing. Formerly, divorce laws made it harder to get divorced because a petitioner had to prove the reasons for the failing marriage. Now however, the law is far more permissive, and allows people to terminate a marriage for almost any reason, with almost no legal backlash.

We hope this little list has provided you with something to think about. We certainly would never suggest that people don’t get married again after a divorce, but perhaps there are ways to avoid the high rate of failure. If all of us spent a little more time preparing for the specific pitfalls that second marriages are likely to face, by being informed and aware, we could vastly increase our success rate the second time around. If not, however, we are always here to help you pick up the pieces and move on. Our Oakland County Family Law attorneys can be reached 24 / 7 at 1 800-567-6035. We also do crisis intervention.


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