The Greatest Problem from Divorce
- Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Today, much has been written about divorce, divorce recovery, life after divorce, dating, remarriage, blended families, and the like. Little has been written about why so many remarriages fail. We want to expose you to some theories about why those who divorce have "a not much better than even" chance of making it the next time. In general, these reasons are best summarized as divorce due to marrying people who have debilitating deficits.
There are many theories implied in common folklore about why some people have repeat divorces. One of these is "baggage." It's true. If you are divorced, you have heaps of baggage. You have emotional scars—the hurts, wounds, anger, fears, hang–ups, and skepticisms of a failed marriage. Then there is the physical baggage—the children, the debts, the ongoing necessary connection with the ex–spouse. Some believe this baggage lessens your chance that a new marriage can succeed. There is some reality to this. If you enter a new marriage refusing to let go of the past or not allowing your new mate to be first, the marriage may falter from the start. But let's face it: Everyone has baggage. It just depends on how you handle it and what you do with it. Many second marriages do succeed even with baggage in tow. If you and your new spouse recognize the realities before the marriage and decide in advance how you will deal with all of it, the past won't be an insurmountable problem. Remember, more than half of remarriages are successful.
Bad Boys and Girls
When divorce attorneys ask their clients what led to the breakup of their marriages, addictions and other bad behaviors are mentioned in a list of the top ten. If a divorced person has a drinking or drug problem and isn't able to get this under control before his or her next marriage, is it any surprise that the second marriage will stumble? Other addictions such as gambling or sex likewise create risks to the repeat offender. Some people have spending or eating compulsions or similar hang-ups. If you have any of these types of problems that led to your divorce, you need to get clean and fixed before even considering remarriage. Telling the new fiancé the truth about your problem is also a must.
Needless to say, if you marry someone with such ongoing problems, you're being foolhardy.
Another theory about why multiple divorces occur is that some people just can't stick with anything they do. They're quitters. This is the belief that there is a certain type of person who is quicker to quit than to tough it out. In contrast, it's believed people who marry and never divorce are more committed to the institution of marriage or to their spouse, or both. Another version of this theory is that the hurt and cynical attitude created by the first divorce makes you less likely to stay in a marriage given the eventual ups and downs. It goes like this: After seeing that you survived the first divorce (and you're already branded a divorced person), it's easier to bail out the next time. If your next marriage is difficult, you may feel it's easier to divorce again because you know you will recover. Reality check: While it may be true that divorce is less scary the second time because you know what to expect, who wants to go through that entire trauma again?
The premise here is that those who divorce multiple times tend to be failures in many other facets of life. Are divorced people just losers? This theory can't fly since 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. There aren't that many losers in the world! Still, anyone who has been involved in the dating scene can probably confirm that there are a few out there.
Our research tells us that these reasons—baggage, addictions, hang-ups, quitter-types, and the failure–prone—are not the major reasons for so many multiple divorces. No doubt some remarriages fail because of these various reasons. Some people probably are not the marrying type, and they won't stick it out through the ups and downs. Then there are the complexities of remarriage with children where blood is thicker than water. If the kids, even adult children, pose a problem, some parents may choose them instead of the new spouse. Financial issues also add a layer of difficulty to a remarriage. When people get married the first time, few have any possessions. In contrast, people in their 40s, 50s, or 60s have a lot. They feel the need to protect their money because they do not have time to earn it all over again.
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