Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Divorce & Remarriage: Watch Your Step

Did you know that the divorce rate in America is 45%? Yes, of course you did.
Did you know that the remarriage (with children) divorce rate has been reported to be nearly 60%? Maybe you did. Did you know that stat is wrong? Aha, got you there.

Here is the low down. Dr. E. Mavis Hetherington is one of the most respected scholars in the study of divroce (which frankly sounds like a very depressing topic to study, but someone has to do it). Hetherington states that when 1 person brings a child into a remarriage (a "simple" stepfamily), the divorce rate is about 65%. When both bring in children into the remarriage (a "complex" stepfamily) the divorce rate is over 70%.

You got about a 3 in 10 shot of staying married. You have even less of a chance of being happily married.

Now before you get all cranky about what I am saying, I am the child of divorce and I know what it is like. My mother remarried a terrific man and they are one of the very few happily married. I like that when it happens. At the same time, it took her about a decade to be ready to marry again, and she waited until there were no more kids in her home or his. Most divorced people say they want to wait it out, but they do not.

Actually, they do, but they get married while waiting it out. Huh? Although on a legal level, sexual level, and sometimes on a financial level they remarry, on an emotional level, they do not remarry. They protect themselves from getting burned again. They do not trust first and then get married, they get married and hope trust comes. Or they do a surface trust just so they can get married and then the real mistrust surfaces later.

Sadly, when mistakes are made and their expectations are not met...when they see one familiar thing from the past, their temptation is to say, "I have seen this before and I'm not going to let it happen again." The rush to divorce court in a second marriage is triggered far more easily than in a first marriage.

Strange as it might sound, the things remarried people do to prevent another failed marriage is the very thing one might do if they wanted to end the marriage. Mistrust, split loyalties, fear, and all kinds of things muddle remarriages.

My advice, if you are divorced, marriage is not the answer to you question. I'm not saying don't remarry, but I am saying it is not the answer to your question. And my further advice is WAIT!!!! I don't care how many books you've read, YOU DON"T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING INTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let wisdom guide you rather than excitement, denial, fear or desperation.

1 comment:

Serena Voss said...

Wise words!

One thing that I would add, that perhaps goes without saying is that if you are the child of divorced parents, those feelings of mistrust that your parents felt tend to follow you into your own marriage.

Both my husband and I are children of divorced parents. There have been things that have cropped up between us that neither of us could explain until it dawned on us that we were acting out our parents' pain and experience.

One of the greatest gifts we have received for our own marriage was being involved in a small group with other Christian couples. It has really, really helped.