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Successful Second Marriages

2nd marriagesSuccessful Second Marriages

by Pat Bubash, M.Ed. Bookstand Publishing, 2008, 224 pages

reviewed by Nancy Russell, Former Better Marriages Office Manager

Americans for Divorce Reform state that it is reasonable to say 40% of all first marriages now end in divorce, but a reasonable projection with current trends is 50% (www.divorcerate.org). Second marriages come in higher, with an estimated 60% failure rate. Being in a second marriage, myself, and aware of the high divorce rate for second marriages, I was curious what this book could offer me. After all, I work for Better Marriages as a volunteer. I am inundated with Better Marriages principles daily. What I found was not another “how to” book but stories about success . . . couples who had made it past the “seven-year-itch” and longer and were succeeding, despite the additional difficulties that second marriages experience.

The author compiled a questionnaire for the “second time around” interviewees, looking for honed skills the couples had acquired in communication, the differences in this marriage and the previous marriage and what they were doing to make the marriage endure and beat the odds. One couple, Geoff and Penelope, has been married 15 years. Geoff maintains a “development and encouragement file.” The contents are newspaper articles, magazine excerpts, pages from books and sermons. The topics all relate to strengthening and maintaining a marriage. Geoff spends at least once a month reviewing articles and reading something he finds relevant to a current need he might be having. The couple says that communication exists in this second marriage, whereas with their first partners stuff piled up and they found it seemingly impossible to resolve. They blame this on the inability to be forthright and open in conversations in their previous marriages. Now they deal with things as they happen rather than letting problems stack up. They believe in having communication early on before they are overwhelmed with the issue.

The couples in the book have had to deal with trust issues, manipulative ex-spouses, children who didn’t want their parents to remarry, death of a child, looking after older parents, running a business together, illness and surgery. Many of the couples have willingly sought counseling, realizing that the issues of their previous marriages continue to contribute to difficulties in their current marriages.

Interestingly enough, one couple joined Better marriages prior to their marriage and remain members. Her reason for joining Better Marriages: “I did not want to repeat the mistakes of my first marriage.” Throughout the book these couples share their struggles, determination and love for each other. No, I didn’t receive any new ideas to use in my own marriage, but I did enjoy reading the stories of these committed, second marriage couples. And isn’t that what we all need today . . . encouragement and resolve to make marriages better . . . beginning with our own?