Although there are many aspects of consideration prior to any marriage, there are some unique challenges that present themselves in remarriages after divorce. This paper will explore those challenges and their affects on the marriage. The scope of this paper will not go into depth on solutions to these problematic areas, but rather serve as an alarm to bring awareness to issues that may adversely affect the relationship of a newly remarried couple.
There is a considerable amount of information available on preparing for marriage. The question is, does that same material apply to remarriage after a divorce? Conventional thinking on this issue assumes that remarriage is no different than the first marriage. This common belief is referred to as the “nuclear family myth” (Gurman, 2008). Conventional thinking is wrong where remarriage is concerned. “Remarriage is not merely a short-term single event, but a complex set of changing conditions escalating from pre-divorce tensions, through separation and reorganization of households and parent-child relationships, to remarriage and stepfamily integration” (Greef and Du Toit, 2009). Although many of the topics such as marriage roles and expectations, communication, family of origin, sexual relationship, personality differences, spiritual beliefs and financial management (Nichols, 2010) covered in typical premarital books do apply to any marriage, there are some unique challenges that come with remarriage after divorce. These challenges include blending families, dealing with past marital wounds and the churches view on divorce and remarriage. With the failure rate of second marriages at sixty percent (Gurman, 2008), addressing these added concerns along with other typical premarital issues can help increase the odds that the marriage will survive.
The task of blending families is first on the list of unique challenges. Blending families is nothing new. Stepfamilies have been around since the Old Testament and before. Abraham, Jacob and David had blended families. Although todays families don’t typically exhibit the intricacies of these biblical families, the dynamics are similar (instepministries.com). The complexities of blending families involve the children from the previous marriages, former spouses and former in-laws (Gurman, 2008).
There are several concerns in dealing with children and blending families that could be addressed at length, but this paper will only touch on a few common issues that can affect the remarriage relationship. Many remarrying couples presume that their children will be excited about the new marriage and automatically love and be loved by the new stepparent. The couple falsely believes that everything will just fall into place and everyone will easily adjust to the changes. In many cases the children are still adjusting to the divorce. According to Instep Ministry’s website, children have three common reactions to remarriage. First is grief due to the upset of normal routines. Second is fear of what the future holds, and third is feeling out of control due to big transitions in their lives. It isn’t uncommon as they navigate this adjustment to struggle with loyalties to one or the other parent as well. If the couple is not aware of these possible reactions it can make for a rough start. Time needs to be taken to help the children make the transition and feel assured that their world is not going to fall apart. Add to the afore mentioned emotional upheaval the complexities of shared parenting responsibilities with previous spouses, involvement of ex in-laws and extended family as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins as well as step parenting expectations; suddenly this new and hopeful marriage can seem discouraging and daunting. “Patience is needed as the new marriage and family requires time to adjust to what might seem ambiguous or complex rules, expectations and emotional...