Reforming the Chronic Divorcer

Multiple divorces are a controversial topic. Anyone who has married a person with this track record, only to end up the latest ex, would probably say much of the responsibility lies with their former partner — even if that person sees themselves only as a victim.

Some of the more infamous marriage collectors are Zsa Zsa Gabor and her nine husbands, Mickey Rooney and his eight wives, and Elizabeth Taylor and her eight husbands, one of whom she married twice. We’re not here to point fingers — our goal is to improve your odds of having a successful marriage after multiple failures.

The question we ask today, is when should we draw the line between being a victim of happenstance (a bad marriage), or being a fundamental cause of the problem? It is safe to assume that anyone who has been married more than five times probably has a low chance of ever succeeding with a sixth or seventh. What about someone thrice- or even twice-divorced? Should that be a red flag for starting a new relationship, or are there ways to improve your chances of succeeding under these circumstances?

The Stats
Roughly half of all marriages end in divorce. The chance of a second divorce after the first is estimated at between 60 to 67 percent. Going onsed to a third marriage, that same person will stand an almost 75 percent chance of failure. Obviously, the third time is not always the charm.

Debunking the ‘Lesson-Learned’ Myth
One popular myth among divorcées is that subsequent divorces offer helpful learning experiences that will bring about a more successful second or third marriage, but this is rarely the case. In fact, what many marriage counselors find, is that out of the roughly one-third of second marriages that last, only half of those are happy. Here’s some relationship advice for succeeding the second time around:

1. First of all, proceed cautiously. Marriage counselors report that most couples who are struggling through a second marriage report that they wished they had sought out help before saying their vows.

2. Living together is not a good method of proceeding cautiously. Mostly it’s because the type of person who prefers to “test the waters” is also likely to exit it quickly when the going gets rough. There’s also research that the act of cohabitation without commitment can weaken attachments to the union.

3. Beware of “excess baggage.” People commonly hold on to resentments from past partners and have trouble dealing with the difficulties of a relationship. It can be helpful to make your focus more proactive in working towards solutions.

4. Avoid playing the role of the victim. Instead, it’s important to actively work together towards a harmonious coexistence.

5. Even if you are weathering a difficult period, bear in mind that all relationships go through challenging phases – but if love, respect, hope and understanding remain, it will more likely see its way through.

6. Marriages almost never end because a couple loses their love for each other, but rather because they can’t stop hating each other. This resentment comes from the past, and to quote a Hollywood movie, “If you dig up the past, all you get is dirty.”

Reasons for Optimism
A recent study looking at 5,232 couples considering divorce, who later decided against it for various reasons (children, finances, timing), found five years later that they were glad they hadn’t gone through with it. Most couples who divorce are rarely happier than those who remain in a marriage and work towards solutions. Often times the bumps are related more to stress (depression, financial trouble, etc.) than the partner. Over time, as these problems resolve, so will the relationship.

Some disbelievers in marriage say the more mature a relationship becomes, the harder it is to leave because the opportunities to foster a new relationship have passed, and they must settle for what they have, rather than be lonely. In truth, mature relationships remain intact because of the history they have created together. That history strengthens the couples bond of commonality, which in turn opens new doors to lasting spiritual intimacy.

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