WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DATING
The Second Time Around
Ideally, marriage is for life. If you are divorced or widowed and
want to remarry, here is sound advice as you begin dating again.
By Dexter H. Faulkner
More and more people today are marrying for the second, and
sometimes third or more, time around. Sometimes children are
involved in this second-time-around courtship.
What should be considered by those who are contemplating
remarriage after divorce of the death of a spouse? Or by singles
dating those who have been married before?
Is the second time around really better, as some love songs
portray? Do people really learn from their mistakes and change
into ideal mates after they are more experienced with marriage?
Unfortunately, the statistics do not bear this out. Divorces from
second marriages are more prevalent than divorces from first
Does that mean, then, that once-married people should just
forget about ever having a successful marriage? No, not at all.
But second marriages are not for the uninformed and immature,
especially if children are involved.
Are you sure you could be a loving stepparent to someone
else's children? These children many times are traumatized by the
death of a parent or the breakup of their home. They need extra
love and special understanding. Are you up to that? Think about
it. Graduations, weddings, holidays - can you share them with a
former mate of your mate, or the memory of a mate? You may have
Know yourself. Some people just can't accept being second in
such an intimate relationship as marriage. Any reference to the
former mate will be extremely painful to them, and the
complexities of a second marriage, especially one that involves
children, will be too much for them to bear.
But, for those of you who have read this far and still feel
you could handle whatever comes your way in a second marriage,
how should you approach dating the second time around?
Don't rush into a second marriage
Dating toward a second marriage is much the same as any
other dating. Dating toward marriage is a time to get to know the
Talk to one another and get to really know each other before
you get serious. Relax and have fun. You may be tempted to get
too close too fast, but don't let it happen. Take time to become
good friends first.
People are different. Some who have been married before find
their loneliness so overwhelming that they want to remarry as
soon as possible. They tend not to want to spend the time needed
to get to really know the person they are dating, or to allow
that person to get to know them.
Those of you who are tempted to do this, realize that while
you may believe you know exactly what you are looking for, and
don't need much time to make up your mind, others may not share
your timetable. Pressuring someone to "get off the fence" will
only worsen the situation.
Don't pressure anyone into marriage too soon. It's selfish
and certainly not in the best interests of the person you are
dating. You're not showing real love when you put your own
personal desires above all else, including the person you profess
Other once-marrieds shy away from commitments for some time,
not allowing any relationship to get too serious. They need time
to soothe and heal the shocks and wounds from the ending of their
former marriages, for whatever reasons they ended. Many will
still "feel married" for some time, and dating may seem like a
silly game to them.
Discuss your previous marriage
If you are the one who has been married, sooner or later you
need to talk openly with the one you are interested in about your
Don't just focus on your former mate's problems. Look at
yourself honestly and see what you have learned. It isn't
necessary to tell every detail of why your marriage failed, but
it is wise to admit that you made mistakes, too, and show what
you have learned from them. Otherwise, how can those who are
considering marriage with you know that there won't be a repeat?
By the way, singles, if someone tries to lead you to believe that
all the problems in a former marriage were the fault of the
former mate, beware. No one is perfect. You don't want to marry
someone who can only see your faults.
You can't change the other person
If you are considering marriage and you find the problem in
the first marriage of the person you are interested in centered
around drink, sex, drugs or any such issues, don't think you can
change the person. Such addictions are not changed easily, even
by the person with the problem.
Let me tell you the story of my friend, Mary (not her real
name). Mary was 19 when she met Jim. Jim was five years older and
seemed so much more mature than the boys Mary had been dating.
Almost immediately after Mary began dating Jim, he began to
pressure her into marrying him.
Mary, somewhat overwhelmed by Jim's good looks and
sophistication, felt flattered that he was so serious about their
relationship. Jim told her he had been married before, but that
it just didn't work out. Mary was infatuated with Jim. She didn't
want to hear about his first wife, so she paid little attention
to Jim's vague references to his former marriage.
Two or three times in the three months before they married,
Mary saw Jim drunk to the point of passing out. But Jim assured
her his drinking bouts were caused by the loneliness of divorce,
and their marriage would solve that problem. She believed Jim,
because Jim believed it himself. He had not admitted to himself
that his drinking was a problem. Mary's parents became alarmed
when she announced her plans to marry Jim. They knew little about
him, and were apprehensive about what they did know. She seemed
But Mary was adamant about the marriage, and before Mary's
parents could believe it was happening, over a weekend their
daughter married and moved to a city some miles away.
The next few years were a nightmare for Mary. Jim couldn't
hold a job for any length of time because he was an alcoholic.
Every few months he would leave home for work in the morning and
then not show up again for days.
Several children later, after five or six years of misery
and longer and longer periods of abandonment by Jim, Mary finally
The moral of this sad story? Get to know the person you are
planning on marrying. Get to know his or her friends and
relatives. People many times are not aware of their own problems.
And even if they become aware, that's no guarantee they will be
able to overcome them. Nor can you make them change.
During the dating period is also the time to talk about
finances with a prospective mate. Find out about alimony and
child support. What about future commitments to educational needs
of any children involved? Are there debts to be considered? Will
you have to lower your standard of living?
If your prospective mate is paying alimony and child
support, you may have to live on a limited income, or both you
and your mate may have to work to make ends meet. You might not
even be able to afford a child of your own.
Basic attitudes toward money need to be made known and
discussed before marriage. Money problems many times are the
primary problems in a second marriage.
Dating and children
If you are seriously dating a person who has younger
children, or if you have children, both of you should get to know
the other's children, and the children should get to know one
another. Don't think children can be ignored in your
Include the children on an outing occasionally. Before the
date, the parent should explain to them that he or she is
seriously dating toward marriage, and wants them to get
acquainted with the person he or she is considering as a future
If the children's natural parent is still living, the
children should be told that your date is not going to replace
their natural parent, but will become another close relative to
love and respect.
Tell them that liking this new person is not being disloyal
to their natural parent any more than loving their grandparents
or aunts or uncles is being disloyal to you. Family love
encompasses the entire family. This person will become part of
Much of what you say will have to be tempered by the age of
the children, but don't expect them to just naturally warm up to
this new person in their lives, and immediately love him or her.
By the way, if, when you begin seriously dating, you make the
mistake of practically deserting your children, spending all your
extra time with your new-found love, your children are going to
be hurt. Spend time with and talk to your children. Encourage
them to express their feelings to you, and be open with them
about your need for a mate. If they are involved from the start
in your plans to remarry, they aren't as likely to feel
Don't make the mistake of allowing children to dictate whom
you date or marry, however. They should know you are concerned
about their feelings, but you have to make the final decision
about who would be the best mate for you.
Do expect them to treat your date respectfully and
courteously at all times. They must learn that when you remarry,
this person will become an important part of your life and
theirs. Children should know from the beginning that their
desires will not supersede those of your mate.
Whatever you do, before or after marriage, take care not to
run down the natural parent in the eyes of the children. You'll
be tempted to compete for their love, or to compete for your
prospective mate's love for them. Don't do it. Again, love is not
something to be gingerly given out or competed for. They can love
and respect their natural parent and they can love and respect
you at the same time. Trying to make them love you instead of the
natural parent can be devastating to them.
These children are an important part of your loved one's
life. You may find yourself resenting the time and attention paid
them. But you must be able to allow your loved one to love his or
It's difficult, if you have not had children, to understand
how much sacrifice on the parent's part is necessary in a
parent-child relationship. That is why it is so important to make
sure that you are ready for this added responsibility before you
marry someone with children.
Involve God in your decision
A couple, whom we'll call Bill and Saundra, were deeply in
love and felt they'd dated long enough to know they wanted to
spend the rest of their lives together. They were financially
able, and they knew and liked each other's families.
The families knew and approved highly of Bill and Saundra's
relationship. Both families were of the same religion, and the
couple had counselled about marriage with a minister who knew
They had talked about and agreed on future children,
finances, where they wanted to live, their respective jobs - what
else was there?
Bill and Saundra knew they had done all they could do
themselves to wisely choose a mate, but they also knew about a
scripture that said something about God's involvement in the
Notice Proverbs 19:14: "Houses and riches are an inheritance
from fathers, but a prudent wife [or husband!] is from the Lord."
They felt they had involved God. They had certainly prayed
about making the right choice. They decided to step out in faith
and go one step further. They prayed that God would remove their
rose-colored glasses, that He would allow circumstances to occur
that would reveal to them what they didn't know about each other
that would most certainly affect their future life together.
The next few weeks were rough ones. Everything seemed to go
wrong. Bill and Saundra saw traits in each other that they had
not dreamed were there. They found themselves disagreeing in ways
they had not even considered.
They looked at each other and saw each other, truly, for the
first time. They wondered if they should call the whole thing
Bill and Saundra have been married now for several years.
They didn't call off their marriage. They saw each other clearly,
and they considered the negative traits of character with the
good. They decided they could make it as husband and wife - even
when problems came along.
If more couples involved God the first time around, as Bill
and Saundra did, second-time marriages would hardly be necessary.
(As long as it is a true relationship with God that BOTH have.
Sadly I have known couples where it turned out after marriage,
that one of them really did not have a personal relationship with
God and Christ. They were to put it bluntly - play-acting -
making out they would be religious or adopt the other person's
religion. I have known couples where one of them actually got
baptized in the other person's church, but soon after marriage,
they showed they were not really interested in their mates
"church" or even in God and Christ. So caution is needed even in
the "religious" part of your life when you think you have found
the right mate - better make sure you and the person you plan to
marry are BOTH on the same solid rock with your Christianity
and/or you both have full RESPECT with your "religious" differences
and will conduct your marriage and life around that that
respect - Keith Hunt)
Involve God in your dating toward marriage, whether it is
for the first time or the second time around. Then continue to
keep Him involved throughout your lives together.
Second-time marriages aren't for everyone, but for those who
have counted the cost and are willing to make the effort, they
can be successful. They take a lot of work and a lot of maturity
and a lot of love and a lot of self-sacrifice. But then, what
worthwhile relationship doesn't?
TO BE CONTINUED WITH MY OVERALL SUMMATION OF ONE OF THE BEST
BOOKS ON DATING I'VE EVER READ, CALLED: "Finding the LOVE of your
LIFE" by Neil Clark Warren, Ph.D.
This book is well worth every parent having in their home to help
educate their children on this matter of dating. Certainly every
"church library" should have it. It was published by "Focus on
the Family," Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. It may still be in
print. If not, hopefully your Public Library will carry it or
obtain it for you through their inter-library loan department -