To be clear, I never thought I’d be part of these statistics:
In the U.S., 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 74% of third marriages end in divorce. Second marriages have difficulty for a number of reasons. First, once a person discovers that he or she can manage a divorce, they are less scared of going through the process again. Jan 9, 2017 (Taken from this article, which is interesting in its own right.)
My parents, their parents, my only sibling, and almost all of my extended family are with their first marriage partners. When I announced I was divorcing (after 20 years of marriage) it was surprising to my family and many of my friends. Even though I talked (ad nauseam) about how miserable I was, everyone knew I loved my (then) husband. But we’d grown apart. In truth, we’d never really grown together, so to me, it wasn’t all *that* surprising.
When I rebounded into my second husband, who I met online, from another country… yeah, it shocked some folks. My nearly-90-year-old grandmother said, “You must love him very much,” and of course, I did.
Except. Except, what? Well…
Our marriage began under less-than-stellar circumstances – on both sides. Was there baggage? Oh, only tons of it. A Titanic-sized ship full of the stuff.
And there were children. Oh yes, the children of divorce.
Let me tell you a short story. My parents separated once. My grandmother’s house was going up for sale after her death. Dad moved in there and started working on the estate sale to beat all estate sales. Those walls housed a lifetime of furniture, fabric, appliances, jewelry, and, of course, memories. He’d lived there as a teenager… possibly before that. I remember stories of him climbing the tree out front… so maybe? But I digress.
Dad was at his mom’s and Mom stayed home.
It felt like a kick in the gut every time I thought about it and I prayed they’d find a way to stay together. I cried. I couldn’t imagine what my life would look like if they divorced.
Folks, I was in my thirties. Not eight or nine. Or seventeen. I mean, seriously. It’s devastating, no matter how old you are.
Oh, and because you may be interested: They didn’t divorce and yeah, I’m thrilled about that. Now, where was I?
The Heart of Remarriage by Gary & Greg Smalley is quite wonderful. But then, when you buy (listen to or watch) anything by the Smalley’s you know what you’re getting. There are no clunkers or surprises there. They have always been about building better relationships – marriage in particular.
Yes, this book is Christian-leaning but it’s also packed with just a lot of great info. I love how “the heart” is the center of everything… from the “Heart Monitors” to the “Heart Protectors”… to help avoid a “Heart Attack.”
I’ve had to be VERY honest with myself about all the mistakes I made as a step-parent (and parent) because of my choice to move quickly after my divorce. Had I used a book like this to focus, go through the steps needed and heal my heart before marrying someone else, I might have saved a lot of people (and by this I mean, everyone involved, including myself!) a lot of pain and heartache.
This book puts things —– IN ORDER —– which I love.
- Healing your heart
- Preparing your heart for remarriage
- Creating safety for your heart (and that of your partner, children, etc.)
- THEN, getting married
- The role of your former spouses
- Heart checkups – keeping things safe, real and loving
I know several blended families who did everything right. They have shown me — in such beautiful ways — what a TRULY blended family can be. I wish I could go back and do things all over. Boy, do I! But that’s not the point.
Books are great… but sometimes, seeing the words of a book in action… priceless.
I think it’s also great that the Smalley’s add in the “Remarriage Mission Statement” by Stephen R. Covey (Mission Statement link live, you can read it online) and some checklists and quizzes. I know I’ve already said it, but this book is really neat.
I hope that you’ll listen to me. If you are newly divorced (with children, especially) or contemplating divorce… buy this book… heck, buy any book on the subject… watch a blended family that you respect and love… but don’t jump in without a plan, like I did.
I did most things wrong as I fumbled along into uncharted territory. I knew NO successful blended families because … most everyone I knew was still married or divorced but chose to stay single.
People’s lives are on the line… mostly *little people* who deserve so much better than the chaos and drama adults bring into their lives. All these years later, I’m still helping to clean up the mess that was created.
But as a final note: Second marriages and beyond can be wonderful, blessed, sacred spaces. It’s never too late to learn new ways to communicate, create safety and heal broken hearts.
I am thankful for my marriage and for my husband.
Was it easy? No. Was it comfortable? No. Would I do it all again? Not like we did. I would – seriously – look for a book like this one and WORK THE DARNED THING. I think it’s *that* important.
*Originally written by me for this blog on June 23, 2018