My Handy Dandy Mythoclast

Over the course of the last week, I have been involved in many discussions about marriage. Most all of the discussions broached divorce as well. While statistics to the contrary are rampant, the prevailing myth is most marriages fail. Rather than get into a lengthy debate, whip out my BlackBerry and Google the truth, I decided to take an entirely different tack.

Change the Subject

Well, sort of. Instead of focusing on the failure of the first marriage, I focused on the success of the second marriage. Statistically speaking, second marriages are the most successful. On average, they last a little more than eight years longer than first marriages.

While I am not going to berate you with the gory details into the methodology as to why they are more successful, I want us to explore why. I specifically want you to tell me why I should buy your choice as to why the statistics are stacked the way they are.

blue pencil

Practice Makes Perfect

This is the tiredest excuse of all. While the idea doing something a second time brings with it a sense of experience, it fails to address the concept you are engaging in marriage with another person who is as unknown to you as was your first spouse.

If this is your choice, come loaded for bear, as I will not be easily convinced.

Older and Wiser (Young and Dumb and…)


Older, yes. Wiser, how? What fundamental concepts are different in a first marriage and a second marriage? Is this a matter of coping mechanism? Did you learn how to avoid the pitfalls better?

While it can be said learning not to engage in marriage-ending behavior is an asset to a second marriage, I am unlikely to be swayed far from my stance on this one. If you think this is the reason, why?

Not My Fault

The Blame Game

The second most common reason for first marriage failure is Mate. Failures range from infidelity (#1 answer) to job loss (#4 answer). The fact sexual dysfunction was cited as a failure cause for divorce in the top ten answers struck me. I will not tell you how it struck me, but strike me it did.

(Yes, I am scratching my head on this one.) If the reason the first marriage dissolved was not your fault, how does that bear on the longevity and viability of your second marriage?


Turns out Mate #2 was a BFF to Mate #1. How is this marriage more viable than the first? Did you marry the wrong twin switched at birth? Were you better friends with Mate #2 than you were Mate #1? Is the second marriage based on commiseration against Mate #1?


Mate #2 was always your BFF. Mate #2 never did understand why you married Mate #1. Mate #2 stood with you through wedding, marriage and divorce. Why is this the second marriage?


Family glue?

Cited equally as cause for both marriage and divorce, children are a reason given for second marriages staying together longer. Where this excuse fails to meet muster is in this fact: Most second marriages begin with children from previous marriages.

If children are the reason why the second marriage lasts longer, why were they not the reason the first marriage stayed together?

OK, Enough

I have three alternate solutions to the ones presented here. I want to hear what you think.

  • Which solution is the most plausible?
  • What other solution can you give in addition to the most plausible?
  • Convince me you know which solution is the reason second marriages are more successful than first marriages.

Here is your chance to Talk Back. Let’s get Talk Tuesday underway. The floor is yours.

© Red Dwyer 2012
Reblogging of this or any other post on The M3 Blog is expressly forbidden.
Copyright and Privacy Policy available in The Office. 
Previous Post
Leave a comment


  1. I have only been married once, but prior to meeting my husband, I was in a long term relationship with a man. We were together for 9 years. Over time, I began to realize that he had a pattern of using women so he wouldn’t have to support himself. He was unfaithful more than once, and when I discovered that he was involved with someone and wanted to continue the relationship, I kicked him out. It was a horrible ordeal, and I had to go to court to get him to leave.

    When I married my husband, I was nearly 50 years old. I went into the marriage fully knowing that there was no way I could change him. The one thing I’d like to change is his eating habits. I’d love to get him to eat lots of veggies. I am his fourth wife. I never pried into why his marriages didn’t work, although I know that his third wife cheated on him.

    We have had out ups and downs. We were and still are BFF’s. I was with him for 10 years before we got married. He is the most loyal friend anyone could hope to have. I want to be with him, and I fully understand that marriage has its ups and downs. I’ve learned to pick my battles. There are some things that aren’t worth making trouble over.

    Since he everything in black and white, I have to look for all of the colors. I know that this is because he was hurt, and I’m always careful not to say things that might hurt him.

    Marriage works when you’re willing to go that extra mile and put everything you’ve got into it. You’ve got to roll with the punches and not allow dumb things to destroy the friendship you built.

    • Thank you, Susan. You have given some really good advice. From what I see, he learned quite a bit from his prior marriages, even if it was “what not to do”. Thank you for sharing your insight.

  2. I suspect there are reasons not listed here.

    1. More willing to work harder at the second marriage. That is being unwilling to simply accept failure a second time at least one partner has more commitment to success and thus makes a greater effort.

    2. Sorry, but got to agree with wiser. Perhaps though it is not age that is in question but more wisdom surrounding the idea of what creates success within marriage itself.

    3. In some cases, I am going to go with simple fear. Social condemnation of multiple failures. This is particularly true if it is the woman who failed.

    That is my three cents.

    • You are correct there are more reasons than listed in the post. Your #1 is a big portion of second success. I like that you included social stigma as a reason. Peer pressure is an amazing thing.

      Why do you think society looks so much further down on women for this one?

      • Gack don’t get me going on what is wrong with society!

        Scarlet woman -vs- playboy

        That about says it all right there. Society for some reason worships Hugh Hefner but condemns his centerfolds.

        • I would say it is all in who is getting and who is giving, but that would be taken so wrongly…or would it…hmmmm.

  3. Maybe people naively go into marriage — whether it be #1 or #2, or even beyond, thinking that everything will be the same. Living with someone as a married couple is vastly different then living together in co-habitation. Be committed to communicating, sharing feelings about things that really matter, and most of all, be committed to not allowing yourself to go to bed angry. I love my husband, and there are lots of little things that bug me about him. But I would live with a million little annoying things rather than live a day without him. A friend of mine wrote this….He lost his wife to a massive stroke after 23 years of marriage. She was 55 years old. It was her second marriage and his first.


    • That was beautiful. I agree with Robin’s take on the politics and on the meshing of souls.

      You have touched on a support question I have asked many over the last few days…Does the BF/GF relationship (with or without living together) make the marriage stronger? The sad state: No was the consensus. It makes me wonder what it takes for forst marriages, when the same people gave me such wildly different reasons for second success.

  4. Experience definitely counts when going into a second marriage or relationship. Me, I’m the kind that thinks “Once bitten, twice shy”, but I’m the exception rather than the rule.
    After my divorce I did meet a “nice” guy, but he made it perfectly clear from the early days that once married he wanted kids, lots of kids. So I dropped him like a hot potato. I didn’t want to be tied down with a whole brood of kids.

    • Going into marriage you absolutely have to have middle ground on something as crucial as children. There are many many other factors which necessitate agreement, but children is really a make-or-break subject.

      Do you ever think you would be able to get over the “shyness”?

  5. I did not see anything about abuse cited as a failure. Or perhaps I missed it. Anyway, I’ve done this twice before too. Since both failed, I have no words of wisdom to add.

    • Abuse was cited as one of the failures, but for the purpose of this discussion, I did not want to list all of the failures. I will cover them in a post later this week. My question to you would be, did your second one produce better results (even ending in divorce could have netted benefits)?

  6. LOL, yes, I was a little smarter and picked slightly better. Still waiting on him to file for divorce after 7 years of separation. I can’t afford it and don’t say legal aid. Tried that. I think it’s his way of subtle control, even though he is the one who is always shacked up with someone. Ironically, his last relationship ended because she thought he was cheating, with me, of all people when I haven’t went anywhere in 3 years.

    There are always benefits in the form of lessons.

    • Passive-aggressive. *shakes head* Not sure I will ever understand the fundamentals which drive it, but it is so very prevalent. I know better than say legal aid. You forget I am a paralegal. I know better.

      And for all you know, he may still call your name at the moment of impact 🙂

  7. Have you noticed that whenever I engage in one of your Talk Tuesdays that I comment and add whatever I am thinking about, yet I never actually offer anything regarding the questions that you ask? This is similar to the Awards that I never accept, not entirely for the same reasoning but mainly because I never add personal information via networking, I never have, although I do like to express an opinion nonetheless, and I know that you are appreciative of everyone that adds their thoughts here.

    Okay so why am I offering this now, well to make a comment on this particular topic one has to have had experiences relating to it and without that experience how can one begin to offer anything worthwhile, or more importantly anything that is credible?

    However, and without offering anything much in the way of my personal life experiences, in this one I figure that getting married at a younger age is the main reason for failure and there isn’t just one criteria for that train of thought as there can be many for instances surrounding such a breakdown in marriage, such as unfaithfulness that is often the cause, yes that happens to more mature partnerships also so what am I blathering on about?

    I guess it mainly depends on maturity and also of experiences of old, and as I am wittering out on a limb here I think that I will call back later and see what everyone else thinks, all I can say for the moment is that as one matures everything in life is that much clearer…

    I will be back later Red 🙂

    Have a fine evening and a wicked debate…

    Androgoth XXx

    • Wittering aside, you have pointed out some of the main reasons first marriages fail. Ironically, you have also named the reasons second marriages fail as well. Some of the offerings thus far have touched on the stones to build another post and a series yet to come.

      Have a great day, Andro,

      • Thank you Red, I am just about to have a coffee next and then maybe a little bit of sleep, I think that by the weekend I will be ready for some R+R though after saying that I would be naughty and extremely wicked given the opportunity 🙂 😉 Have a wonderful rest of evening and a tranquil sleep as you unwind after this, yet another excellent debate of yours 🙂

        Androgoth XXx

  8. Oh God Red, that I did not need to know 😛 It did not bother me before not being divorced on paper, but someone may be entering my life and I want to be free from the marriage.

    • (And I am still giggling!) What a delightful thing for you to say!! Glad to know if a good person presented you would not be too shy to try. That is truly wonderful. And rightly, you deserve to have someone special in your life.

  9. NO, I did not mean it like that. I mean I want to be ready.

    • I did not misunderstand. What I think is wonderful is that you have not discounted marriage altogether because your last mate was not marriage material.

  10. Missed talk Tuesday again. Ah well, in the interest of ‘better late than never’. I like all your reasons and I like Valentine’s. (I would have said that had I arrived sooner.) I am in my second marriage and it’s been 29 years! My first was brief and disastrous.

    Married for wrong reasons
    Married too young
    He had no clue how to be a husband or father (get a job?)
    We lived with his parents….

    I didn’t divorce for a long time because I did not want to be a statistic. But eventually I did. Later I married Brian. I knew him from before I met the first one lol. We were friends and are friends. Believe me – there have been rough patches. We have stayed together because:

    Both too stubborn to go
    Lots of prayer and work
    I did not want to have that stigma on me again.
    Realized I would just wind up with another person going through the same things and so decided to make this one work.
    We ‘love’ each other – the commitment kind of love.

    In my experience with others – I think second marriages do better because someting has been learned through the first process.

    That’s mho for what it’s worth 🙂 Good stuff – I love delving into the psychy (sp???) of people and relationships ;-]

    • The psyche is a strange and wondrous place, Angie. You have touched on a lot of the places where this is going to go this week. This week, I started the series with TalkTuesday, rather than ending with it. Not often am I up against the SOTU though. *sigh*

      No matter. The discussion has unearthed a lot to support the research I did in advance of this odd post. I will be interested to see what the morning comments bring from those who got this in a daily digest. 😉

      Thanks for your input, Angie!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.