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2nd Time Around

Barbara Bensoussan

After a first marriage fails, a second marriage can be a balm to the soul. But that doesn’t mean it’s a smooth ride. Here are some common hurdles that newlyweds have to face the second time around — and the ways they dealt with those challenges.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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After a painful divorce, Liora was left with four young children, no college degree, and a job that paid only $15 an hour. “My ex did help with the children’s expenses, but once I paid the rent, there was precious little left. Trying to create a happy Jewish home when I was so overwhelmed was really a challenge. I still remember struggling to put up a little succah by myself, and crying in frustration when the poles kept collapsing. It just seemed to symbolize my whole struggle to keep my home together.”

Worn down from the front lines, Liora was delighted when she met Ari. He seemed like the perfect knight in shining armor to lift her up and carry her out of her misery: financially successful, charming, with only a few older children who lived with their mother. Liora and Ari spoke about commitment and how to solve problems through good communication. He promised he would renovate his house for her and buy her a new sheitel.

Less than a year after their marriage, Liora was back in another apartment with her children. “He became a different person after we got married,” she says. “He seemed to stop caring about me; he was moody and critical. As for the support, well, he never came through on any of his promises.” Ari refused to discuss problems, thereby ruling out getting help from a counselor, rav, or therapist.

Not all second marriages have such a sad ending, but Liora’s experience is in line with secular statistics on remarriage (there are no statistics for the frum community): The divorce rate runs at about 67 percent for second marriages and 73 percent for third ones. (The failure rate for first-timers is lower, but no less dismal, at 50 percent.)

Why are remarriages so fragile when you’d expect people to enter them older and wiser? For one, things get increasingly complicated the second time around. If you’ve already been married, chances are you have children; your chassan likely has some, too. If he lives elsewhere, you might have to uproot your entire life to join him (with your disgruntled kids in tow). Finances can quickly become a heated issue — what happens when you get an inheritance but want to reserve the money only for your children and not his?

From second-timers who have been there — and experts who advise them — here are some pointers on how to avoid the pitfalls of remarriage.

 

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