Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Susan and Dale Mathis's new book, The Re-Marriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love and Happiness (Tyndale, 2012).

Getting married for the second (or more) time is challenging. Dealing with the pain from a divorce or death of a spouse is hard enough; adding the demands of blending families with children is even more stressful.

The bad news is that three out of four remarriages don’t survive. But the good news is that your remarriage can survive – and thrive – if you and your fiancé or fiancée prepare for it wisely and ask God to help you start your new marriage on a strong foundation.

Here’s how you can prepare for remarriage with God’s help, so it will be an exciting adventure for you:

Ask God to give you a redemptive vision for your new marriage. Invite God to redeem your past pain, mistakes, sin, fears, and broken dreams, and expect Him to respond by forgiving you, healing you, and restoring your hope and joy. Pray for God to transform you and your future spouse into people who will give each other love and grace while relying on God to empower you every day. Make Jesus your role model and work on developing character like that modeled by Jesus. View your upcoming marriage as an opportunity to grow in spiritual maturity. Ask God to give you and your future spouse a vision of what He wants your marriage to be like, and then create common goals based on that vision, with specific time frames for when you hope to achieve those goals.

Avoid living together, or stop if you already are. Cohabiting with your future spouse can significantly damage your upcoming marriage by eroding trust and intimacy between you – and it’s also a serious sin in God’s eyes. If you’re already living together, move out soon to stay with a family member or friend until after your wedding. 

Beware of the danger signs of a romantic partner in bad spiritual or emotional health. Don’t move ahead with marriage plans until you assess your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s spiritual and emotional health, identify any danger signs, and work on resolving them. Danger signs include: being on the rebound from a previous romantic relationship, emotional instability, codependence, addiction, abuse, having sex before marriage, financial irresponsibility, a lack of faith, a critical nature, incompatibility (such as values, interests, or a lifestyle that differs from yours), personal habits that trouble you, and children who aren’t ready to accept a stepparent into their lives.

Discuss each other’s expectations. Openly and honestly talk with your fiancé or fiancée about what’s really important to each of you spiritually, physically, educationally, financially, emotionally, and sexually. If either of you has children, discuss expectations for them. Once you’ve had thorough conversations, determine which expectations are realistic and which need to be adjusted. Then talk with each other’s kids about the expectations they have for their new family life.

Learn how to serve each other. Start a habit of working unselfishly to meet each other’s needs whenever possible. Talk with your future spouse to discern the difference between each other’s desires and needs, and to understand the real needs. Do your best to serve each other, but give each other grace when you all fall short, as well.