- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 8, 2009

‘Tis the season for bridal shows where brides-to-be prepare for the wedding day of their dreams.

A well-respected marriage and family therapist once told me she is amazed people invest so much time and effort into preparing for major events, stages and transitions in their lives, such as a wedding, career, hobby, childbirth and even death. It seems, however, that fewer people dedicate as much time and effort to prepare for married life beyond the wedding itself — and it appears they prepare even less for remarried life.

Many people are surprised to learn divorce rates for second marriages are higher than for first marriages. For subsequent remarriages, the divorce rates climb even higher. To some it is counterintuitive; why would divorce rates be higher for remarrying couples? Haven’t people who are remarrying already been there, done that and learned from previous mistakes?

They may have been married before, but in addition to bringing any old baggage into a new marriage, there is a host of new legal, financial and family-relationship challenges.

Every year, many of the 1 million people who head down the aisle again and millions of people who already are remarried actually do look for information to help them through their unique challenges but have a hard time finding resources.

A survey of 1,000 people who are remarried or are considering remarriage conducted in March 2008 by Remarriage LLC reveals that 31 percent said they need more access to relationship, legal and financial advice and 27 percent said they need guidance on blended families. Yet 59 percent said it’s easier to find a diet they could stick to than it is to find resources on remarriage. Nearly 41 percent said they rely on family and friends for advice. What if your family and friends are neither remarried, nor experts in relationships or legal and financial matters?

Before my husband and I remarried, we read books on remarriage and stepfamily living, but in hindsight, we wish we would have done more.

If you are planning to marry again, I recommend surrounding yourself with expert resources in the fields of financial and estate planning, family law and mediation, and stepfamily counseling. Working with these resources before remarrying can help you transition more smoothly into your new family life.

Being proactive in these areas can make life easier — wouldn’t it be better for you and your fiancee to talk to a financial planner about a household budget, investment strategy and retirement plan before you actually remarry? It is a great way to evaluate just how well — or not — you handle conflicting viewpoints.

In addition, my husband and I think we would have liked to connect with other successfully remarried couples before we exchanged our vows. We joined a stepfamily support group after we had been remarried for a couple of years, but we believe joining this group earlier would have helped us set more realistic expectations about stepfamily living. If you are going through some challenges on your remarriage journey, it is often inspiring to talk with others who have faced similar situations and can provide advice based on their experience.

Take time to become familiar with nonprofit organizations that provide information to remarrying couples. The National Stepfamily Resource Center (www.stepfamilies.info/index.php) and the National Family Resiliency Center (www.divorceabc.com) are great places to start expanding your knowledge and preparing for remarriage. Such Web sites may offer you and your spouse the opportunity to delve into discussions about topics you had not previously thought of.

Certainly enjoy going to bridal shows and making wedding plans, but also consider investing time and effort in exploring resources that can benefit you and your family long after the wedding day.

Let me know what you find!

Paula Bisacre, founder of Remarriage LLC, is the publisher and executive editor of reMarriage magazine (www.remarriagemagazine.com), a quarterly publication that provides practical solutions for the growing remarriage community. She can be reached at [email protected]

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