My wife Brenda and I have been married for almost 15 years—remarried that is. We were both active and involved in our churches before we met, so we never thought we would find ourselves on this side of the marriage fence. Divorce was not in our plan. Yet, both of us found ourselves divorced, healing, dating again, and asking, “How do I make my remarriage work?”
A huge ripple effect was created by “the great train wreck,” of our divorces. These non-welcoming, painful ripples have been felt by our kids, other family members, and friends. But God can lovingly heal the harmful effects of divorce as He continues His work of restoration in your remarriage. We’ve been speaking, providing resources, and coaching to help couples through remarriage, and blended family transitions for 12 years. So, here’s one tip for every year!
Here are 12 ways to make a remarriage healthy and satisfying.
1. Work through your past hurts, insecurities, and jealousies. If you don’t, it will definitely affect your remarriage.
2. Stay in the present. Don’t compare your new marriage and family to what you had before. This is a new ball game with some new players.
3. Be your spouse’s biggest ally. They are first. Have their back in all situations. (Before the kids, the ex, the job, you get the point!)
4. Seriously pray for wisdom daily, hourly even. Remarriage and step-family life is a huge challenge that will require wisdom to navigate smoothly.
5. Assume the best in your spouse. Stay positive.
6. When nothing is going right, hold each other for 30 seconds, then kiss.
7. Display these two contagious attitudes as much as possible: gratitude and forgiveness. We can never have enough of this stuff! The gratitude is always for each other and sometimes the forgiveness is for ourselves.
8. Don’t forget about “self-care.” A stronger, more relaxed you rubs off on everyone.
9. Don’t try to go it alone. Tap into the experience of others who may be a little further along in their remarriage experience. Continue to invest in your relationship.
10. Make building a legacy of restoration your goal. Keep that goal in front of you, even on the darkest days. It’ll be worth it. The best gift we can give our kids is a strong marriage, and you can still make that happen!
11. Laugh at hard moments more.
12. Remember what brought you together in the first place. When was the last time you were on a date? Away for a weekend? Be intentional to get away with each other—often.
Previously there were statistics that showed that children from divorced parents would have a higher rate of divorce themselves. Newer studies have been encouraging. In fact, when kids can witness a healthy, loving marriage, things change. They now see how marriage is supposed to be, and want that for themselves. The new statistics show that kids from a divorced/remarried home, when done right, have a lower risk of divorce for themselves.
When it comes to remarriage, it’s not just about the couple anymore. You don’t have a family tree, you have a family forest. Your kids are watching. Have a strong marriage, not only for yourselves but for those eyes that are watching.
So, “How do I make my remarriage work?” Well, it’s work all right, but it’s worth every effort. There can be joy in the journey!
Gil and Brenda Stuart are the authors and founders of Restored and Remarried. Gil is a certified counselor and Brenda has certification in transformational coaching. The live in Brush Prairie, WA