The novelty and thrill of new love can be intoxicating, especially after the pains and adjustment of divorce. The chemical “high,” the comfort of being special to someone again, and the hope for a new beginning are the impetus for considering long-term commitment and the possibility of remarriage.
Many tread lightly when moving forward, heavy with scars from previous wounds. Others move rapidly to ease pain and feel connection. Almost everyone wonders what can be done to ensure success the second time around.
Taking time after divorce lets healing to occur. As time passes, we’re better able to forgive and to explore changes we want to make in ourselves. Learning from previous experience helps us to figure out which behaviors serve us well in relationships and which get us into trouble.
How can we increase our chances of a relationship lasting? Consider taking the time to explore your answers to these questions
VALUES. Are we on the same page with views on religion, money, and family?
GOALS. Do we both want children/more children? A big house or an apartment? Early retirement or lifelong careers?
ROLE EXPECTATIONS. Will we both work or will one stay home to raise children? Who will cook, clean, shop, mow, paint, help with homework?
LIFESTYLE. Do we have common interests, similar views on saving/spending, compatible energy levels, and daily habits? Do we agree on alcohol/drug use? What do we each see as the role of extended family and friends?
PERSONALITY. Are we emotionally compatible? Do we get each other’s sense of humor? Are we socially and intellectually on the same page?
FLEXIBILITY. Do we both compromise and see the other’s point of view?
RESPONSIBILITY. Are we both accountable to ourselves as individuals and do we each treat the relationship with respect?
PERSONAL BAGGAGE. How does self-esteem, past hurts and unresolved grief affect the relationship? Are healthy boundaries in place?
Really think about how families of origin and previous marriages affect the way you view areas listed above. In moving forward, specific area of concern may lead to repeated conflict. Although not all conflict is “bad,” it is important to work through and reach resolution before committing to a lifetime together. Pre-marital counseling can be an excellent resource for addressing those areas where you and your partner are “stuck” and find ways to reach a resolution.
By Deirdre Hally Shaffer, MSW, LCW. Ms. Shaffer, a frequent contributor, has a private therapy practice in Doylestown, PA.
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