Navigating Your Second or Third Divorce
- How many people get divorced more than once?
- Why do some people repeatedly marry and divorce?
- How long do these marriages tend to last?
- Pros and cons of someone who has been divorced more than once
Once upon a time, getting divorced at all was considered shameful. Now, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. And what about second, third, and even additional subsequent divorces? The divorce rate is even higher!
How does navigating your second or third divorce differ from the first time around? Can you do anything to avoid making the same mistakes in your future relationships?
How many people get divorced more than once?
Statistically, we’ve known for a while that divorce affects almost half of all marriages. That has been consistent over the last few decades. Divorce doesn’t tend to surprise people anymore.
What is surprising, however, is the failure rate of second and third marriages, with 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages ending in divorce.
It might seem intuitive that subsequent marriages would have higher rates of success. After all, you are wiser now and know what you want and don’t want, right? So, why does it appear that a successful marriage is even more elusive with each go-round?
Why do some people repeatedly marry and divorce?
The belief in perfection
Many people believe that if they just find the “right" partner, they will have the happily ever after they’ve longed for. But marriage is an ongoing work in progress involving two people who will change over time. The illusion of the “right partner” puts a lot of responsibility on a new spouse. Furthermore, what feels right in one moment can feel very wrong at a later moment, when both people have changed in different ways.
Other reasons for multiple marriages
Other reasons for multiple marriages (and divorces) require some serious self-reflection. These may include the following:
- Unresolved issues: People are amalgams of their personal histories. Many carry issues from childhood or a previous marriage or relationship into their current one. Sometimes, they repeat patterns over and over.
- Fear of being alone: Divorce requires a time of mourning and self-reflection, but the fear of being alone can cause some to rush into a new relationship without taking that important healing time.
- Other external pressures: Sometimes, family or societal external pressures push people into marriage before they are fully ready or sure about their partner.
How long do second, third, fourth, or more marriages last?
Interestingly enough, not only do second and subsequent marriages have a lower success rate than first marriages, but they also have shorter durations. Research shows that half of first marriages in the U.S. last at least 21 years, but the median duration for second marriages was 17 years, and for three or more marriages, it was only 13 years.
Subsequent marriages may be more complicated due to emotional baggage, ex-spouses, co-parenting, adult children, and separate finances and property. What is an already complicated relationship between two different people gets even more complex with each subsequent marriage.
Pros and cons of dating someone who’s been divorced more than once
Although divorce is commonplace, it still comes with some stigma. When dating, the number of times a person was previously married should perhaps not be as important as who that person is and what they’ve learned about themselves through past relationships.
If a new dating partner has been divorced more than once, there are some pros and cons to consider.
- They have experience. They already know that marriage takes work and effort from both people.
- They better understand relationship dynamics and often have more reasonable expectations of their partners.
- They have a better sense of the type of person they’re looking for.
- They’re more adept at seeing problems early on, so they can get fixed before they become unfixable.
- Someone who has gone through a second divorce, third divorce, or may be suffering from their own unresolved issues. Instead of taking time to understand and deal with their own issues, they may simply be looking for a new relationship that’s different from their old one.
- Blended families, stepchildren, ex-spouses, and financial dynamics become increasingly complicated when former marriages are involved. Your new dating partner could come with a cast of characters you’d rather not deal with.
Tips for remarriage success
If you're in a new post-divorce relationship or considering getting remarried, here are some tips for long-term success.
- Make sure you’ve taken enough time to heal from your previous relationship or marriage.
- Take ownership of your own patterns so they don’t follow you into a new marriage.
- Spend time getting to know your new partner before committing to them.
- Be open with your new partner about past relationship failings, how they’ve affected you, and what you want and expect from this one.
- Keep communication open and honest. Respectfully address concerns as they arise.
- Appreciate the things they do and say. It takes time to find your groove with a new person.
- Blend families cautiously. Family dynamics can be complicated in second and third marriages. It’s critical to create and establish boundaries so everyone knows where they fit in the new puzzle.
- Consider professional help. It may be a good idea to go through premarital counseling if you’re considering a remarriage.
- Understand that conflict is inevitable. Discuss how both of you prefer to resolve differences, and make a promise to do this respectfully, no matter how angry you are.
Marriage is complicated whether it’s your first time around or not. Even if you’ve survived a bad relationship and go on to love again, there are no guarantees. At Hello Divorce, we are here to support you on your divorce journey with DIY plans, a network of skilled professionals, and an extensive library of informational resources. Schedule a free call to learn more about us and how we might support you.
Median Duration of Marriage in the U.S. (2018). National Center for Family & Marriage Research, Bowling Green State University.