Today, let's take a look at seven of the most important questions to ask yourself and your partner before you start moving full steam ahead with the wedding plans.
1. How long have we dated?
Remarriage research shows us that the longer the dating period the more successful the marriage. Most remarriages happen quicker than first marriages. Typically, the rule of thumb for first marriages is to date at least a year. There's a lot more work that remarrying couples need to do and a whole lot more players involved. Dating for a long time gives both of you the opportunity to get to know one another better, help your children adjust and helps you see the relationship realistically rather than through love's rose colored glasses.
2. How long have I been divorced?
Again, most remarriage research suggests that waiting a period of at least 2 years before remarrying allows for the greatest chance for success. I know you may be thinking, "Two years!!". However, take a minute and think about it. There are a lot of tasks you need to complete before you're ready to make another commitment to marriage.
3. How well do my children know my new partner?
Your remarriage will be a HUGE change for your children. This is bringing a new person into their lives whether they want them or not. Their reaction to this person will have a major impact on your marriage. It's in your best interest for your children to meet this person. Everyone needs time to be around one another in order to have a realistic idea of what this new life will be like.
4. How do I know if my kids are ready?
Divorce or death of a parent can be an extremely traumatic situation for your children. As an adult, think about how you handled the situation. Over the years, you've developed ways of coping with life's difficulties. As children, they've not had the opportunity or ability to learn those yet. Most researchers agree, that children are typically one step behind their parents in the grief process. What does this mean? You're kids may just be getting used to single parent life when you lay on them that you're planning to remarry.
5. Am I emotionally ready to move on?
A remarriage by definition means a loss has occurred, whether by divorce or death. Those losses need to thoroughly be reviewed and dealt with. If there are "ghosts" from the past, they will constantly haunt your new marriage and leave it vulnerable. Also, if you are still hurt from what happened in the past, you won't be able to make partner choices as effectively as you would if you were healed.
6. What do we need to know about being a part of a step family?
This is critical. Step families are NOT nuclear families. There are completely different dynamics. Without being armed with this knowledge before the wedding, you are setting yourselves up for failure. You don't get time to learn as you go because those dynamics will be in full force after the "I do's". Without educating yourselves beforehand, you'll be trying to learn as well as dealing with the everyday stressors of being newlyweds.
7. What do my partner and I expect from this marriage?
This is an important exercise in first marriages, but doubly so with a remarriage. One of the best ways at getting at this information is to talk about how these things were done, or not done, in your previous marriage and how you felt about it.
My hope is that, at the very least, these 7 tips will get you thinking and talking seriously about the realities of remarriage. It's not all gloom and doom, but the honest truth is that it's tough. Without adequate preparation, the odds are against you no matter how strong you think your relationship is right now.