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Baggage From The Past - Part 5

  • Dr. Neil Clark Warren for the eHarmony Research Library
  • 2003 29 May
Baggage From The Past - Part 5

In this series on Baggage from the Past, I'm offering you ten healing steps that I believe each person must complete before committing to a new person and a new marriage. So far I've discussed

o Resolving Your Grief
o Gauging Your Anger Towards Your Ex
o Restabilizing Your Self Esteem
o Accepting Responsibility for Your Part of the Failed Relationship
o Confronting Your Own Shame and Guilt
o Rebuilding Your Support Community
o Considering Your Financial Status
o Making Sure You Aren't Pursuing the Same Mate

Here are the last two steps:

If You Have Children, Are They Ready for Another Relationship?

Point number nine: If you have children involved, are they ready for you to have another mate? There is no person or set of persons you're going to have to work more carefully with in the choosing of another mate than your kids.

Your kids never give up wishing that you and your first spouse, that is their father or mother, will work things through. What children know at a fundamental level is that their genes come from these two people. They would like to have these two people around them for the rest of their days. There's nothing more beautiful that being a part of a family in which a husband and a wife, a father and a mother, they really belong together so well.

Sometimes after a divorce has taken place, the kids have gotten very close to one of the parents and now you're talking about turning your attention to some other person and that's really sad for them. It hurts them. They're jealous and they may tell you that they're not ready for you to get involved with anyone else. That doesn't mean that they won't be ready in time, but you need to listen long and hard.

Let me give you some suggestions in that regard. I would wait quite awhile if you meet somebody new that you're interested in. You don't want to keep making your kids relate to and adjust to some new person only to discover that that new person is now gone.

As soon as you know that this is someone that has a lot of interest for you, I'd introduce your kids to them. Gently at first. Give them a chance to develop their caring for the other person without a gun to their heads. Over time, if difficulties arise between you and your kids or your kids and the other person, then I would encourage you to talk these difficulties through. Get the truth out and work real hard to make sure that everybody gets their needs taken care of.

This is so complex that sometimes you need to go to somebody like me, a therapist who can hear you out and help you and everybody else involved get everything straight about the situation. Don't be afraid to seek some psychological consultation because some of these situations are very complex. Children can make a new marriage almost impossible, especially if they're going to be living with you.

Is Your Spouse Under Control?

Point number ten: Is your former spouse under control? If not, do you have a plan? I know of former spouses who are so hurt and angry about the breakup of the former relationship that they are literally going to try their best to get in the way of any new relationship you form.

Sometimes that can be dealt with by moving to a different community. If that doesn't work, then you need to talk with your spouse about it. But most of these spouses are fairly irrational and unreasonable. They're so hurt about what has happened.

At the very least you need to make sure that you keep your former spouse from doing real damage to your new relationship. You can do that legally. You can also do it emotionally by making sure that you don't reinforce your former spouse with attention for any kind of difficulty they're stirring up.

If they want to just get with you and spend time with you that may be okay once, but not more than once because after that, they'll stir up trouble just to get your attention. But it is an important consideration when you're thinking about getting married again. Is your spouse under control?

These are my ten steps for healing your heart and preparing for a new marriage relationship.

I have a lot of understanding about what you're going through. I haven't been through it myself, but I've been with so many people I care so deeply about who've been married before but it didn't work out and now they're thinking about the possibility of being married again. It's a time when you need to reflect in a deep and meditative way.

This new marriage simply must work. if you'll do these ten things, I guarantee you, you'll have a much better chance of making a decision, an objective decision, which you can live with for the rest of your days.

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