Perfection Not the Goal in Remarriage

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Remarriage can be a tricky thing. You’re tempted to be the blushing bride or giddy groom, but the knowledge of your failed first (or more) attempt at matrimony lingers in the back of your mind, putting a damper on your enthusiasm. The sad truth is that second marriages have a higher divorced rate than first marriages, so some of that anxiety may be warranted.

Whether you’re recently divorced and just back on the dating market or you’re already planning your next trip down the aisle, you’ll want to spend some time laying the foundation for a successful remarriage. That doesn’t mean your next marriage will be perfect. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Your communication will sometimes be lacking, your critical side may still get the better of you, or you won’t always nurture your relationship like you should. You’ll make all these mistakes and some others as well.

But you’ll still want to spend some time figuring out what went wrong in your first marriage and explore-with the help of a therapist or personal coach, if needed-if there’s something (or many things) you could have done differently.

As you probably know, very few elements of our personalities exist in a vacuum. Our outward problems (financial troubles, overeating, substance abuse, etc.) are merely symptoms of underlying issues we all struggle with. It’s unrealistic to suggest that you can “fix” those underlying issues before you decide to get married again (how many of us are “fixed,” after all?), but it’s important to get a handle on why you do what you do and find ways to address the parts of your life you’re unhappy with.

But you’ll also want to question whether you’re repeating the same patterns that got you in trouble the first time. Very often, we unknowingly select mates who resemble our ex-spouses because we feel “comfortable” around them. Unfortunately, if our ex was abusive or controlling, “comfortable” isn’t necessarily a good thing.

By the same token, it doesn’t do anybody any good if you’re so anxious that you panic over any resemblance to your ex. Just because your ex-husband was inattentive on Sundays during football season and your new husband is also inattentive on Sundays during football season doesn’t mean that your new marriage is headed for the scrap heap. And just because your ex-wife got angry when you wanted a few hours to yourself to enjoy football on Sundays-and, lo and behold, so does your new wife-that also doesn’t mean you’ve made another bad pick.

People have flaws, and we have to accept them and love them in spite of, and even because of, those flaws.

Life, after all, is a journey, not a destination. And like most journeys, it’s a lot more fun if you have someone to share it with. Just because your first marriage didn’t work out doesn’t mean that your next one won’t.

Take your time, learn from your mistakes, and accept that life and love are imperfect-but oh so much better than the alternatives.