After going through divorce once, you may be hesitant to tie the knot again or at least concerned enough to want to know what the science has to say about the stability of second marriages.
Second Marriages and Divorce Statistics
According to U.S. Census Bureau data from last decade, six in 10 second marriages and nearly three out of four third marriages do not last.
Per Smart Stepfamlies: “Remarriages have become even less stable than first marriages over the past 20 years. Among women under age 45, just one in five first marriages ends in divorce within five years (20%). But among women in the same age group, almost one in three remarriages (31%) ends in divorce within five years (Manning, 2015). More than a quarter of the people who remarry are over 50 years of age. Serial transitions in and out of marriage/divorce/cohabitation is now typical of family life in the U.S. (Cherlin, 2009).”
Reasons for the Increased Numbers
Noted psychiatrist and researcher, Gail Saltz, argues that individuals’ needs for companionship often force them to rush into second marriages on the rebound. She advises that they take the time to find out what caused the end of their marriage in the first place. She notes the following additional contributing factors:
• Failure to learn from their mistakes, resulting in repeating them and struggling with the same conflicts in a subsequent marriage.
• No children in common. Although children might not save a marriage in the long haul, the common focus on kids can help a couple navigate through a rough patch.
Children and Subsequent Marriages
Conversely, these same children that helped hold a first marriage together can create tension in a second or third marriage. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly two-thirds of those stepfamilies with children, whether living together or remarried, break up. Both parties might struggle with navigating the logistics of raising stepchildren, resulting in conflict.
Additional Possible Explanations
Mark Banschick M.D. writes a divorce column for Psychology Today. He lists some explanations for why second marriages often come untethered:
• The individual knows that he or she survived (and rebounded from) a previous divorce. This knowledge may make marriage seem less permanent and binding.
• He or she recognizes the signs of a disintegrating marriage faster and thus gives up faster, determined not to “drag out the inevitable.”
• Cultural shifts have made women more independent than ever. When both partners view themselves as self-sufficient, the marriage may not seem as essential.
• “Once burned” individuals proactively want to protect themselves from the pain of a break up, both financially and emotionally.
• As people age, they may become increasingly independent, especially if they no longer can (or do not want to) have children.