Things to Consider Before Remarrying

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Remarrying after the end of a previous marriage or the loss of your spouse can be a major adjustment. The reality is that subsequent marriages are often faced with challenges that are not present in first marriages, primarily the addition of stepchildren and former spouses. 

It is important to be aware of the challenges you might face if you are thinking about tying the knot a second time. Before you decide to say “I do” again, here are some important things that you should consider.

Remarriage Statistics

Before you decide to give marriage another chance, it is important to decide if both of you are ready for the work that it will take. According to many estimates, the odds may not be in your favor.

Some older statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau suggested that the divorce rate for second marriages was around 60%. However, it is important to note that divorce rates have changed in recent decades. While the oft-cited statistic is that half of all marriages fail, some of the most current research suggests that the divorce rate is closer to 40% for first marriages.

"Second marriages have a higher rate of failure than do first marriages. The divorce rate for first marriages is somewhere between 35% and 50%, but for second marriages it's estimated to be as high as 65%," explain Rob Pascale and Louis Primavera in their book "Making Marriage Work: Avoiding the Pitfalls and Achieving Success."

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Family Issues found that while remarriages are more likely than first marriages to end in divorce, the evidence does not necessarily suggest that there is a causal link between marriage order and the long-term stability of the relationship.

The number of remarried people is three times greater than it was in 1960. According to a 2013 analysis by the Pew Research Center, 42 million Americans reported being married more than once. And around one in five of the people surveyed who were divorced or widowed reported wanting to remarry in the future.

Challenges When Remarrying

Remarriages have a number of obstacles that first marriages don't necessarily have to contend with. These challenges include:

  • Lingering resentments towards your ex-partner
  • Increased independence
  • Altered social networks as a result of divorce
  • Shared financial obligations
  • Shared children

“When couples begin a remarriage, the most frequent mistake they make is expecting that everything will fall into place and run on automatic,” explains Terry Gaspard, therapist and author of “The Marriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around.”

The challenges of weaving two separate lives into a marriage require work. And remarrying comes with additional challenges that need to be addressed.

Differing parenting styles, daily routines, financial obligations, legal matters, and relationships with other people can all make remarriage much more difficult.

Terry Gaspard

If you haven’t established a strong connection and are unprepared to deal with conflict and lack the tools to repair daily breakdowns in communication, you may end up pointing fingers at each other rather than being supportive.

— Terry Gaspard

Address Issues Holding You Back

Personal characteristics that undermine the success of long-term relationships also need to be addressed before committing to another marriage.

In order for a remarriage to be successful, it is important to recognize what went wrong in the first one. And while many people emerge from a divorce blaming their problems on their ex, being realistic about your own part in the failure of the relationship is essential for the success of future relationships.

Try to take an objective look at why your first marriage didn’t work and think about your own role in that breakdown. Perhaps you weren’t emotionally ready for marriage last time. Or maybe you had anger issues or financial problems.

If you haven’t taken steps to change the things that negatively influenced your last relationships, chances are things won’t go any better the second time around.

Remarriage and Mental Health

Some research also suggests that the interpersonal and financial difficulties associated with remarriage may have a significant impact on mental health. A 2015 study found that men who had remarried had a significantly higher risk for depression compared to men who had remained divorced.

Assess Your Readiness for Commitment

What is it that makes remarriage challenging? The failure of a first marriage can sometimes lead people to feel distrustful and anxious about future relationships.

"They may still harbor anger, resentment, or feelings of betrayal, which they bring into their next relationship," Pascale and Primavera say. "That can make it hard for them to connect to their new partner."

Going through one unsuccessful marriage and then divorce can change a person's perspective and understanding of relationships. People who have already walked away from one unhappy marriage may be less inclined to endure a return to the same unhappiness when a subsequent marriage becomes rocky.

While it is common to resent an ex, experts also suggest that lingering feelings of attachment to a former spouse are also quite common.

Approximately a third of divorced people still feel a sense of attachment or connection to their ex even years after the marriage has ended.

This can make it difficult to fully commit to a new relationship and can lead new partners to feel jealous or even resentful of your connection to your former spouse.

Build Healthy Step-Relationships

Research suggests that approximately one-third of Americans (around 113.6 million people) are a member of a step-family. Stepchildren can also be a significant challenge that may work against the success of remarriage. Poor relationships between stepparents and stepchildren are often cited as a reason why remarriages fail.

"Remarried wives evaluate the quality of their marriages primarily by the relationship she and her husband have with his and her children," Pascale and Primavera suggest.

Remarrying is an opportunity for a fresh start, but in many cases it means blending two families together. Before you say "I do" again, spend some time planning how this process will happen.

If you have kids from a previous relationship, your new partner will be spending time with your kids and will probably interact with your ex from time to time. And if your new partner has kids with an ex, you need to be prepared to form healthy relationships with their children and deal with the reality that their ex-spouse will continue to have contact and regular interaction with your new spouse.

Tips for Making Your Remarriage Work

So what can you do to help ensure the success of your relationship if you are remarrying:

  • Make your marriage a priority.
  • Let go of anger and resentments from your past relationships.
  • Work on your communication and maintain openness and honesty with your partner.
  • Address issues before they become bigger problems.
  • Learn how to manage conflict in a relationship.
  • Build positive relationships with stepchildren.

Research also suggests that being willing to adapt is important when remarrying. Getting married again often comes with other major life shifts including changes in living situations, finances, roles, and relationships with family and friends.

Being open to adapting and accommodating your own and your partner’s needs is important to the success of a new relationship.

Signs You Aren’t Ready to Remarry

Some red flags that you or your partner aren't really ready to remarry include:

  • You still fantasize about getting back together with your former spouse.
  • You are angry or bitter about your ex and the divorce.
  • You don't feel like you can be honest with your new partner.
  • You don't have the same values or goals as your new partner.

But just because you aren’t ready yet doesn’t mean that remarrying should be completely off the table in the future. Couples counseling or premarital counseling can be useful before you decide to tie the knot. Whether you see a therapist individually or as a couple, a mental health professional can help you gain a clearer picture of the issues that may have caused your first divorce.

They can also help you build trust and communication with your current partner, which can help pave the path for a healthy and lasting relationship.

A Word From Verywell

Statistics suggest that remarriages are at high risk for divorce. However, being aware of the obstacles and prepared to manage these challenges can help make your new marriage a success.

Talk opening and honestly with your partner about these challenges—including children and finances—and how you will manage them as a couple if you do decide to recommit to marriage once again.

8 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. United States Census Bureau. Number, timing and duration of marriages and divorces: 2016.

  2. Primavera LH, Pascale R. Making Marriage Work: Avoiding the Pitfalls and Achieving Success. Rowman & Littlefield; 2016.

  3. Jensen TM, Shafer K, Guo S, Larson JH. Differences in relationship stability between individuals in first and second marriages: A propensity score analysis. Journal of Family Issues. 2017;38(3):406-432. doi:10.1177/0192513X15604344

  4. Livingston G. Four-in-ten couples are saying "I do," again. Pew Research Center.

  5. Gaspard T. The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around. Sounds True; 2020.

  6. Hiyoshi A, Fall K, Netuveli G, Montgomery S. Remarriage after divorce and depression risk. Soc Sci Med. 2015;141:109-14. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.07.029

  7. Pew Research Center. A portrait of stepfamilies.

  8. Graves NA. Salient themes of remarriage in the "young-old" years. In Gianesini G, ed. Divorce, Separation, and Remarriage: The Transformation of Family. Emerald; 2016. doi:10.1108/S1530-353520160000010003

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management.