Does Living Together First Make for a Successful Second Marriage?
PHOTO BY @olegkalina/iStock
  • You know how the saying goes: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." While it's easy to think that going through one failed marriage would make a person less likely to commit the same mistake, Julian Montano, M.D., marital counselor and psychologist, says that studies show subsequent marriages have a higher failure rate than first ones.

    "In a remarriage, these people are bringing in the baggage they carry from their previous marriage." He clarifies, however, that not all remarriages are bound to fail. "Before you enter into a relationship, work on the emotional issues that you have," he advises.

    Thinking of remarrying? Dr. Montano answers some pressing questions:

    Q: How long should I wait before I remarry?

    A: "The time frame depends on the issues surrounding the separation from your first spouse. For example, if the separation was sudden or difficult — brought about by infidelity, for instance — there are trust issues that have to be resolved," he says. "These issues have to be worked on individually, and the question of how long you'd have to wait would be answered by your healing time." In case of death, especially one that is sudden, "medyo matagal 'yun," he says. He adds the usual grieving period is one to two years.

    Q: How do I tell my child/children that I'm planning to remarry?

    A: "Don't surprise your kid," says Dr. Montano. "Try to involve your partner with your children immediately in the relationship and help them get to know one another." He adds that those in the preschool age are most manageable. "Always assure your kids that you love them, and that hindi mawawala yung security and stability."

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    Q: What should I do if my child/children express disappointment or anger?

    A: If the child is acting out, Dr. Montano advises taking a short break from your relationship with your partner so you can take care of your problem with your child. Communicate, he stresses, and be understanding. But if your constant explanations don't work, you might need to consider getting professional help. 

    "Be the first one to love. Be the first to forgive, to understand, to talk. Don't wait for the other. Then your relationship has a bigger chance of being successful."

    Q: What other factors should I consider before remarrying?

    A: Dr. Montano states five considerations:

    1. Raising your childrem. Think about how you'll raise your kids with your partner, where you'll live, and most importantly, how you need to co-parent if the kids are closer to your ex-spouse.

    2. Finances. "Children get their feeling of security from their parents," he states. The sense of security is put in question when you decide to remarry, so this has to be assured.

    3. Family culture. "Think about the family practices, even those as seemingly simple as where you celebrate Christmas," says Dr. Montano. It's best to make the adjustments as smooth as possible for your family.

    4. Your relationship with your ex-spouse. "Was the separation civil? Sudden? Are there still conflicts?" he asks. Address these issues and answer questions such as "Do you still continue seeing your ex?" and "How involved will he/she be in raising your kids?"

    5. Your expectations. You and your partner will need to be extra clear about what you expect from each other. "Where will we live?" Will you adopt my kids? Discuss these things," he says.

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    Q: Does living together first contribute to the success of a remarriage?

    A: Surprisingly, no. "Statistics have shown that the relationships of couples who lived together before getting married—or remarried—have proven to be unsuccessful," says Dr. Montano. "Having a trial period (or live-in period) lowers the level of commitment because it provides a way out," he says. "So the relationship of live-in partners is low commitment, high autonomy." Plus, men and women usually view live-in relationships differently. "Women see it as a serious step towards a long-term commitment, while a man sees it as a way to decide if he will commit. so the trial period is usually for the man."

    Q: What is your final advice for those who are thinking of remarrying?

    A: Think many times before you decide. And process your individual issues first," says Dr. Montano. "In all intimate relationships, there's you, there's the other person, and there's the relationship. Treat your relationship like a third person and take care of it." Also, try to understand why you want to get married. "Is it for me? For my child? Or because I'm afraid to be alone?" he asks.

    Lastly, he says: "This is true for first marriages, and more true for remarriage: Be the first one to love. Be the first to forgive, to understand, to talk. Don't wait for the other. Be proactive. Umpisahan mo, and there's a very big probability that the other one will respond. If that's already a practice from the start, then your relationship has a bigger chance of being successful." 

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    This story originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines magazine.

    Minor edits have been made by the SmartParenting.com.ph editors.

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