In this series of articles called "Dealing With The Past" we're looking at the important considerations you should resolve before marrying someone who has previously been divorced. So far, we've touched on six of my 10 preliminary questions:

1. Why did their marriage not work for them before?
2. What were their contributions to the breakdown?
3. Do they seem both truthful and insightful in their analysis?
4. Is this person regretful?
5. How much excess baggage will this person bring to the relationship?
6. What does the past marital failure say about this person's ability to keep the commitment?

Now we move on to questions number seven, eight and nine:

7. Were there kids involved in the other relationship?

If so, how do you deal with those kids? What do you think of them? What do they think of you? Will this other person you're thinking of marrying resent being in the middle between his or her kids and you? I've seen some really tough situations in new marriages. Situations in which the kids didn't like the new person coming into the life of their parent, whom they'd had very much to themselves before. They just made life miserable for everybody involved. And so I would say to you that if kids were involved in this person's former marriage, then you'd better think long and hard about how you get along with those kids. If you don't get along with the kids very well, especially if they're going to live with you, that will be very, very difficult.

Have you been married before? Do you have kids? Of course, you have to think about your own kids, too. If you've been married before and have kids and you're going to take those kids into the new relationship, and he or she has kids and they're going to bring those kids into the new relationship, then you need to think about what this may say about the peacefulness of your home. Blended families work in theory but they sometimes don't work very well in practical application, so get a feel for whether your kids work with this other person.

Get a feel for whether your kids work with his or her kids if indeed they have kids. Kids are very, very important. Stepchildren, I believe, can veto a marital relationship. They can say no and they can make it stick. I have seen many a marriage torpedoed and totally sunk by kids who simply didn't like the marriage the way it was evolving for them.

8. Will the past relationship have a big impact on finances?

I know some people who are married now and one or both of them were married before, and in those previous marriages, financial commitments were made that have had a tremendous impact on their ongoing relationship. If that would be the case with you, that can be very frustrating over time. He has to send hundreds of dollars back to her every month. She has taken on an IRS commitment for her former husband, which he failed to pay, and so now you are essentially responsible for the IRS commitment. Will those former relationships have a big impact on the finances of the current relationship? If so you need to know about it well in advance of the marriage.

9. Would this person you're thinking about marrying run away from your relationship even faster now because they had that previous failure?

If your relationship were to get a little bit difficult, are they all set up to leave it sooner than they might if they had not had a former relationship? Here's one thing that I've discovered over time: People who come from homes in which their parents got divorced find it easier to get divorced when things get tough in their own marriage, and persons who come from divorces of their own and marry again often find it easier to divorce the new person they're married to. So would this person run even faster if things got tough in their marriage with you? If so, you need to think that over.


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