There are proven secrets to second marriage success. Gottman’s research uncovers them. The USA is the country with both the highest rate of divorce and the highest rate of second marriages.

Marrying for the second time means identifying the factors that promote second-marriage success is particularly crucial because, overwhelmingly, people who enter a second marriage are not widows or widowers. Their first marriage ended in divorce.

A recent study from 5 years ago and census data tell us that 40% of us enter a second marriage. Half of all second marriages have one previously married spouse, while the other half have both previously married spouses.

We also know from research that there are gender differences in second marriages. Almost 64% of divorced men remarry, compared to 54% of previously married women.

There has been a fascinating cultural change over the last 50 years. Older adults are more likely to remarry than their age cohort half a century ago.

Longer life expectancies might motivate more people to seek a companion as they navigate their retirement years.

Second marriage optimism

We know from “Gray Divorce” research that divorced women are more comfortable living alone and independently. This might account for their 10% lower incidence of second marriage.

Self-sufficiency and independence are also crucial factors in married couples. Gender roles have become even more blurred among older Americans. Men manage household affairs, and women are more financially savvy and independent than previous generations.

Those in the United States are optimistic about marriage and expect marriage to last a lifetime. Despite higher second-marriage divorce rates, they are more willing to tie the knot again than in other countries.

Research tells us something interesting about successful second marriages. We feel deep satisfaction and joy when we set realistic expectations. Researchers tell us that this happiness often eclipses marital satisfaction in first marriages.

Here are 11 secrets for second marriage success uncovered by research

1. Mine your first marriage for gold

This is the most critical secret to second marriage success.

Think hard about your first marriage and divorce. What could you have done better?

Where are your vulnerabilities or insensitivities?

Mistakes are the only things we can reliably call our own. What mistakes did you make the first time around? How will you apply what you’ve learned about yourself to be different this time?

2. Emotional Readiness

Taking the time to heal and recover from the previous marriage before entering into a second one is essential. If you find your ex- looming large, consider whether you are emotionally ready for a new commitment. Address any lingering issues from the past and work toward resolution.

Research tells us that your former spouse can negatively impact your second marriage. The anger and resentment of your first marriage can easily seep into your second if you fail to be vigilant. Your second marriage is a distinctly separate relationship from your failed first. It should never be compared or contrasted with it in any way.

3. Get in front of problems with second marriage counseling

I know what you’re thinking. Premarital counseling is for beginners. Wrong.

Have a healthy appreciation for second marriage failure rates and anticipate complexity and conflict. Increase your odds of second marriage success by 30% and get premarital counseling early. Clarity will follow.

4. Reflect and Grow

Reflect on your past mistakes, learn from them, and grow as individuals. This self-awareness and personal growth can contribute to healthier relationship dynamics in a second marriage.

What do you and your partner do well, and where do you struggle? Where do you agree on the topic, and where do you see things differently? How significant are these differences? Do you communicate easily or get stuck in emotional gridlock and drop the subject? Work on understanding troublesome family dynamics.

Successful second marriage comes from careful and consistent communication. Being open and honest are marriage foundations.

Aim to foster deep connection, respect, and trust from the start. A reasonable assessment of your collective strengths and vulnerabilities will help you stay emotionally attuned to one another as you deal with kids and ex-partners.

5. Have an agreed-upon understanding of your role as a stepparent

One-third of American families are blended. For several reasons, blended families are a particularly well-researched topic in science-based couples therapy.

First, blending families are a known marital stressor. Blended families have a higher divorce rate. And even more alarming, divorces occur sooner than in first marriages. Child support and the lack of supportive family members can undermine making a marriage work.

6. Be a step-by-step second-marriage stepparent

Blended families in second marriages can be successful and deeply satisfying. These are families that value patience, respect, flexibility, and humor. But expecting everyone to fall into line easily and willingly is a big ask. Be patient and adaptable while adjusting to new routines, roles, and family dynamics.

You will find that your role as a stepparent is more subtle and supportive than expected. Learn parenting strategies and share them with your spouse. Expect resistance. There is no “instant family” or smooth blending without effort.

7. Embrace vulnerability in your second marriage

If you’re willing to take a risk to achieve second marriage success, you’ll have to be vulnerable. That means being direct about your fears and concerns. Trust is built continuously on honesty and being reliable.

Communication is critical for second marriage success, and emotionally exposing ourselves can invite empathy and create an abiding sense of “we-ness.”

8. Be realistic and inspect what you expect

Second marriages that create blended families will face many dilemmas and challenges. Marriages fail in the face of conflicting loyalties, rivalries, and turmoil.

Anticipate possible conflict areas and discuss them in advance, like disaster-planning scenarios.

Children need open-handed good faith. Please have the highest expectations for everyone, but plan for their worst selves to visit occasionally.

9. Maintain a couple-time

Don’t become a kid-centric household, but don’t ignore your children.

Schedule a regular date night. Model for them what a loving, united front looks like. Show courtesy and respect, and expect the same from everyone in your household. They will draw on your example when building their own intentional families one day.

10. Expect and embrace conflict in your second marriage

Dr. Gottman’s research on thousands of couples shows conflict is inevitable. A full 69% of marital problems are managed but never permanently eliminated. Manage conflict with courtesy, patience, and respect.

11. Get help at the first sign you need it

It’s distressing enough that most unhappy spouses in first marriages would rather suffer than seek help. But research tells us that subsequent marriages are even less likely to enter couples therapy.

The research is clear. Science-based couples therapy can improve second marriages.

It’s important to note that every marriage is unique, and what works for one couple may not work for another. The success of a second marriage ultimately depends on the commitment, effort, and willingness of both partners to work together to overcome challenges and nurture a loving and fulfilling relationship.

For couples therapy to be effective, both spouses must be honest with themselves and each other and completely invested in the process. Are you in a second marriage? Get help as soon as possible at the first sign of trouble.

Because you want to get it right this time!

Originally published May 25, 2018