Making your second marriage work

There are steps you can take to insulate yourself and the new marriage you’re entering into.

There are steps you can take to insulate yourself and the new marriage you’re entering into.

What you need to know:

  • Do not jump into a second marriage quickly to validate yourself as desirable and marriage material.
  • When looking to date after divorce with the aim of marriage, you may prefer to date a divorcee because you feel that you have a lot in common.
  • If you both have kids, you must be aware that they have biological parents, with whom they want to relate.

In October 2021, popular Kenyan gospel singer Gloria Muliro announced that she was. In a previous media interview, Gloria shared that she had walked into her first marriage with the hope of living happily ever after.

"It was like being in jail. I waited, hoping that things would work out but that never happened. I tried my best. It never worked," she said during a radio interview.

Just like Gloria, married couples do not always live happily ever after.

The trouble with remarriage

It is difficult to overcome the tremendous expenditure of emotions, resources, physical and mental energy you invested in a marriage. But divorce is not the end of love. Divorcees can find love again and go on to marry and have successful marriages.

But when looking to walk down the aisle for the second time, there are precautions to ensure that your second marriage does not end in failure.

“The trouble with re-marriage is that there is often baggage and expectations that come with the marriage. This may range from children to unhealed wounds from the first marriage, or echoes from the first marriage that keep on popping up,” says Dr. Mark Banschick, a psychiatrist and the author of The Intelligent Divorce.

There are steps you can take to insulate yourself and the new marriage you’re entering into.

The marital autopsy

When you make a decision to get married again, take a step back and conduct a thorough autopsy on your previous marriage. This autopsy should identify reasons why your marriage may have failed. For instance, while your perspective may be that the failure was due to your former spouse’s failings, the triggers for the divorce could have been contributed by you.

“An autopsy should not be your source of self-blame. It should be an insightful examination that will tell you what to do and what not to do in your second marriage, how to handle conflicts, how to discover intimacy, and the traits to look out for in a long-term partner. It should make you wiser,” says psychologist Patrick Musau. You may also need to consult a professional therapist who can take you through, and evaluate if you have healed from the emotional and mental trauma of the failed marriage. “You do not want to carry divorce triggers into the new marriage. And if the reasons for your divorce weren’t as noticeable as abuse, you might want to go through them with a counselor, especially when they border on items such as finances and compatibility,” says Musau.

Self-validation

Do not jump into a second marriage quickly to validate yourself as desirable and marriage material. You are likely to do this if you blame yourself for the failed first marriage.  You may suffer from intense bouts of loneliness and insecurity especially if your marriage had lasted for a long time. However, rushing into a second marriage shortly after divorce could compound your emotional, sexual and mental state. In addition, says family therapist Susan Gacheru, your second marriage will have set off towards failure. “Common research indicates that second marriages fail if one partner re-marries within one year following the end of their first marriage,” she says. “Take your time. You need to be ready emotionally, mentally, and sexually for the relationship dynamics that come with marital interactions.”

At the same time, do not set your partner up for mistakes to vindicate your conviction that your ex was the one at fault.

“If you keep on waiting for your spouse to make mistakes, you’ll be sub-consciously preparing yourself for your second divorce. Considering divorce as a likely option will serve to quicken it up,” says Mavis Hetherington, a marital researcher and the author of For Better: Divorce Reconsidered.

When looking to date after divorce with the aim of marriage, you may prefer to date a divorcee because you feel that you have a lot in common. This preference should not cause you to exempt your dates from compatibility and value checks. In addition, when you are both divorcees, you should avoid having unnecessary relations with your exes, more so after getting married. Dr. Chris Hart, a psychologist and the author of Single and Searching says that your new husband should not play friends with his ex-wife unless there are children involved. “This should not be too frequent either. For instance, your husband’s engagements with his former wife should not drag you into fighting their battles. Instead, his loyalty must be strictly with you,” he says. When you’re dating someone who’s never married before, unnecessary interactions with your former spouse could spook them into thinking you have not moved on.

The children

If you both have kids, you must be aware that they have biological parents, with whom they want to relate. Do not be a barrier. “Don’t position yourself as the alternative or as the better parent by making disparaging remarks about their mother or father,” says Erastus Kibet, a psychologist based in Nakuru. Do not show preference to your kids over your partner’s kids especially if the children are all living under one roof.

“If both your exes are around and willing to co-parent, the kids will want them to be around during their key life milestones such as birthdays, graduations or weddings. Be mature enough to smile and say hello respectfully when you meet,” says Dr. Hart. It is also important that you don’t take over disciplining. Let your spouse assert his authority on his kids. Don’t discipline or be overly authoritative on them.

Intimacy

Pay keen attention to your intimacy and happiness. This glue will stick you together. “Put each other first, say I love you a lot, treat each other with respect and honour, and make lots of intimate love,” says Dr. Hart. Remember you are personally responsible for your happiness before you can make each other happy. You are not any less deserving of love and fulfillment than the person marrying for the first time. Ms. Gacheru says that having been married, divorced, dated and now re-marrying, you’re at a better position to achieve marital success. “Bear in mind that you are now more mature and wiser. You know most of the dos and don’ts that make or destroy a marriage. Go for it and be happy,” she says.

The legal

Before you get married a second time, ensure that you are legally divorced and that, all legal rights pertaining to matrimonial property division have been respected and implemented.

“You now know that a happy wedding can end in divorce. Safeguard your property and your children’s estate by having a duly signed prenuptial agreement before you enter into another marriage,” says Kibet.

A report by Kibatia Advocates on pre-marital agreements in Kenya specifies that you must be keen to get a prenuptial contract if you and your prospective spouse have substantial and disparate assets. “These include assets with substantial value and appreciation such as real estate. The agreement will state that upon separation, these assets will not be divided between you. Instead, each party will walk away with their own assets and liabilities,” says the report. In addition, he says that you should be legally clear on how the property you will acquire together with your new husband shall be distributed in your estate plan, especially if you both have kids. To get a clear picture on your rights and obligations, consult a family lawyer who can take you through the matrimonial property act. “The mistake you will make is to assume that a prenuptial agreement or a visit to a family law practitioner will betray your confidence in your new marriage. No it won’t,” says Kibet.

Second divorce

You must understand that you do not have to be stuck in a second marriage that is harmful to your emotional, physical, spiritual, and even financial well-being. “A second marriage will not make you any less desirable as a woman. Neither will it make you any less worthy of getting married again. Do not stay to protect your name and reputation, or to please your relatives and the society, if the marriage is abusive or harmful to your well-being,” says Kibet.

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