“In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part.”
Most couples recite their vows on their wedding day, confident about living it out. But life sometimes throws a curve ball and some marriages fall apart.
In 2019, Singapore saw a 3.8% increase in divorce cases from the year before. However, many are choosing to pick themselves up and remarry after a divorce. According to Singapore’s Department of Statistics, 24% of marriages in 2019 were remarriages.
While the notion of finding love again is highly encouraging, the reality is that marriage after divorce may not always be easy, especially if it involves children from the first marriage. Nonetheless, remarriages can be successful if couples enter it with an understanding of what this new chapter may bring. Senior Counsellor at TOUCH Marriage Support, Mdm Lai Fung Ling, shares more on how divorcees can transit smoothly into their new marriage and find hope in love once more.
- Be mentally prepared
Remarried families are more complicated than ordinary families in terms of husband-wife, parent-child and sibling relationships. Therefore, it is important to brace yourself for the new challenges ahead and never assume that the problems you encountered before remarrying will vanish or lessen after.
If you have never been married before and are entering into a marriage with a divorcee, be understanding towards him/her when he/she brings up his/her previous marriage or spouse. While your new spouse may mention the experience of getting along with his/her former spouse, it does not necessarily mean that he/she still misses them because it is inevitable to touch on past life experiences. If your new spouse’s mentioning of his/her former spouse bothers you, raise your concerns to him/her frankly but gently so that he/she will be more aware of how you feel.
- Recognise your reason for remarrying
Wanting to find a new parent for your child should not be your main reason for remarrying as your child may feel responsible for the marriage, potentially causing them heavy psychological pressure. In addition, your new spouse may not share the same view as you and may not place his/her priority on parenting when entering the marriage. This mismatch in goals and objectives may lead to conflicts down the road.
Hence, try to re-evaluate your reason for remarrying. Marriage should revolve around love between you and your new spouse, involving three components: intimacy, passion and decision/commitment.
- Differentiate your new marriage from your previous
Pay attention to any unresolved emotions you might be feeling from your previous marriage (e.g. anger, sadness, resentment, regret) and take some time to resolve them before entering your new marriage.
Recognise that your new marriage will be a different experience because your new spouse is a different person from your former spouse, and they will not behave the same way. The dynamics between the both of you may be largely different too.
- Be understanding towards the children
If you have children from your previous marriage:
- Discuss the new life arrangements with them as early as possible. Let them have the opportunity to participate in the new family arrangements (e.g. getting acquainted with a new stepparent, new stepsiblings, a new home etc).
- Allow your new spouse to acquaint himself/herself with your family and let your new spouse’s family get to know your family as well (especially if both you and your new spouse have children from previous marriages).
- Don’t pressurise your children to accept your new spouse (i.e. don’t force your children to call your new spouse Dad/Mom before they are comfortable with it).
- Strive for the acceptance of your family, friends and relatives, as at the end of the day, you would want your loved ones to fully support your remarriage.
If your new spouse has children from his/her previous marriage:
- It is inevitable that they would have established their parent-child relationship before your marriage. As such, recognise that your new spouse’s feelings for you and your children would be completely different even after the wedding. Refrain from making comparisons or expressing jealousy as doing so will only make your relationship tense.
- Get to know your stepchildren but don’t pressure them to accept you or call you Dad/Mom before they are ready to do so. It is okay and normal for them to first refer to you as Uncle/Aunty as they slowly warm up to you. Allow them to do so for as long as they want.
- Try to be there (physically and emotionally) for your stepchildren so that trust is built between both parties. You may consider picking them up from school regularly or taking them on trips to their favourite eateries or hang out spots to show that you are physically present in their lives. Provide them with emotional support by letting them know that you are always ready to lend a listening ear and that they need not be pressured into confiding in you if they are not ready.
- Be patient with your family as they try to accept your remarriage
As you extend understanding and patience to your new spouse and stepchildren, do remember to do the same for your own family and children (if you have any from your previous marriage). They would need time to come to terms with your decision to remarry and the new family arrangements which will come with it.
If your new spouse is also a divorcee like you, seek to communicate where both of you stand in this marriage and agree to mutually support each other in this transition so that past hurts from the previous marriage will not be brought into your new one.
AFTER THE WEDDING
- Remain consistent with your love and concern
Marriage is a journey. After the wedding, continue to communicate with your new spouse and support each other to make the new family work. Continue showering your children and your stepchildren with love and involve them in the new family’s lifestyle.
- Be humble and be willing to love and learn
Love needs to be learnt. Regardless of whether you are remarried or are in your first marriage, every marriage has its own challenges. Commitment and effort are required to make a marriage work. Seek to understand your spouse. Approach conflict with respect and love. Be open to advice and reach out for help if you think your marriage needs more support. With the right approach and support, you can give love a second chance.
Want to know more about how you can have a fulfilling marriage? Contact TOUCH Marriage Support at [email protected] or click here to find out more.
TOUCH Marriage Support aims to enrich marriages to build a strong foundation for families. Through a range of holistic programmes led by experienced marriage educators and counsellors, TOUCH Marriage Support prepares young couples for marriage, strengthens spousal relationships, guides couples through conflict resolution, and empowers couples to navigate and cope with the stressors and challenges which they may face in their marriage.