Practice makes perfect?

1 February 2017

It can be easy to assume that your second marriage will be easier than the first. After all, practice makes perfect, doesn’t it?

While this may be true in lots of ways, remarrying can come with its own complications and concerns.

Reliving the past

One of the risks in any new or new-ish relationship is carrying forward expectations, problems or behaviours from the previous one.

Habits by their nature become habit-forming – like wanting your new partner to send you regular texts asking how you’re doing because that’s what your previous partner did. Or, withdrawing and going quiet when there’s conflict – because that’s the way you ended up last time around. Or, finding it hard to trust your new partner because a betrayal of trust was why your last relationship ended.

It’s tough, but generally a good idea, to approach new relationships as a clean slate – to accept that your new partner is a different person to your last and, indeed, that you’re a different person too.

It’s trickier than it sounds – often, we don’t even realise we’re going about things in a particular way until it’s pointed out, and even then we might not notice that our behaviour is being influenced by previous experiences. Also, as we get a bit older, we get set in our ways, and it’s hard to change habits.

Getting to know each other

What can be really useful before embarking on any new long-term relationship is talking together, openly, honestly and respectfully, about your expectations. And it can be useful to do some soul-searching in the lead-up to this – thinking about anything you find difficult in relationships, any fears or worries that might be left over from previous relationships, and what your hopes for the current one would be.

These conversations – with yourself and your partner – may help you understand both yourself and each other better. You can get to know your partner and why you both do things the way you do much more clearly. It can be important in other ways too. You may not yet know if you have the same ideas on living arrangements. Or money. Or having more children.

There’s no way of guaranteeing the success of a new relationship, but being both honest with yourself and your partner gives you both a good chance.

Communicating with children

A common issue in second marriages is coping with the reactions of your (and your partner’s) children. Even grown-up children may struggle with the fact that Mum or Dad is preparing to marry someone else. They may have never come to terms with their parents getting divorced in the first place, and may express this through disapproval of the new relationship. Or they may worry that their place in their parents’ life is threatened by the new partner.

It’s a good idea to set aside time to talk with your children individually about what’s going on. That way, you’ll have a chance to explain your perspective and they’ll know they are being heard too.

If you’d like to talk through your relationship issues with a Relate counsellor why not give our friendly appointments team a call on 01234 356350.

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