Your first marriage was great - for a while. But then things turned south and you divorced. Maybe there were things that you wished you had seen from the beginning or maybe you just didn't know quite what to expect. Either way, you're all the wiser now and you feel like you're ready to get married again. Good for you! There's nothing that takes more courage than remarrying after you've seen some of the bad things that can happen in a marriage.
But remarriage is a lot different than your first marriage. For one thing, you didn't have kids when you got married the first time. You also didn't have a bitter ex. And depending on when you got married, you probably didn't have a house or a 401(k), either. But now that you're older and life is more complicated, you have more things to consider when you get married. And because there are more things to consider, there are more things you need to plan for to ensure you have a successful and happy marriage the second time.
1. Discuss child visitation
What kind of custody schedule do you have with your kids? What kind of custody schedule does your soon-to-be-spouse have? Coordinating custody schedules is one of the most practical and one of the most useful things to do before you get married. That way it helps you adjust to living together at the beginning more easily and you can enjoy your "honeymoon phase" more.
2. Talk openly about finances
Finances is one of the least romantic things to talk about. So when you're engaged, it's usually one of the things that are overlooked the most. But when you're getting re-married you have more assets and more things to consider which makes talking about finances absolutely necessary.
For example, discuss who pays for your children's birthday presents. Do each of you pay for your own children's Christmas presents or do you both pitch in for each others' children? Are any adult children still financially dependent? Does your soon-to-be-spouse expect you to pitch in?
And be sure to talk about what each others' financial obligations are to your ex-spouses. What kind of child support payments are being made? Are there any back payments that are still owed? Are either of you still paying for a house you're not living in? Is your paycheck expected to help your spouse with their divorce obligations? These kinds of things can make a big difference in your livable income and lifestyle. You don't want to be surprised, so make sure to talk about it beforehand. That way you can make an informed decision about whether the marriage is financially feasible.
3. Talk about parenting expectations
Just because you're married to their mom/dad doesn't mean your fiance's children are going to listen to you. So talk with each other about what kind of parenting expectations you both have. Are you expected to just be supportive of your spouse or are you expected to have more of a direct role in disciplining and managing day-to-day things? Do you expect you and your fiance's children to have the same rules such as a curfew? Talk about what kind of parenting you want to do and resolve differences before tying the knot.
4. Talk about each others' ex-spouse
If finances aren't the least romantic thing to talk about, this one is. But unfortunately, if you have children your ex-spouse is still a part of your life whether you like it or not. And your soon-to-be-spouse needs to know what they're getting into. And so do you. If your ex is bitter and will always be making a scene at birthday parties, your ex needs to know that. And if their ex is jealous and will always be trying to sabotage your relationship, you need to know that, too.
You don't need to go into all the gory details of why each other divorced or what they loved most about their ex, but you do need to know how their relationship with their ex is going to affect you and your relationship. So talk about it. And as a practical tip to keep you from talking about the past, try to keep your discussion in the present tense.
Getting re-married is exciting. You've found love again even after a bad first experience. So don't let the nitty gritty details get you down. Following these tips will help you get some of the more important things out of the way beforehand so you can transition well and enjoy your remarriage - even more than your first.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog RelationshipRx.net for information on all your importanrelationships without the psychobabble.