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Second Chances

Shimmy Blum

After going through the pain of a failed marriage, is it possible to hope for happiness the second time around? Previously married individuals can never really go back to the carefree days of singlehood, but moving on while hauling the baggage of a previous marriage presents its own unique challenges. When is it time to take that next step?

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

“After years of trauma and shattered dreams, it was so refreshing to think about choosing a new spouse — one that would truly suit me. However, anytime I would discuss shidduchim with family or friends, they’d comment about how I couldn’t get through a conversation without mentioning my previous experience and how bad it was.”

Just because a man or woman is halachically free to remarry does not mean that it’s already time to enter the shidduch market, and no matter how unencumbered they might look, previously married individuals can never go back to the carefree yeshivah bochur or seminary girl stage, especially if they are already parents. One must first deal with the baggage from the previous marriage before thinking about beginning a new relationship, according to Rabbi Shlomo Ehrlich, a behavioral therapist, family counselor, board member of the Achim B’derech organization for divorced men — and the father of a blended family. “Trauma, stigma, fear of remarriage, or legal and custody battles can be poison if they are not settled before you start the shidduch process,” he says.

Experts agree that it’s advisable for men and women who have divorced or lost a spouse to enlist outside help — either a professional therapist or a wise, competent rav or mentor — to facilitate their advancement toward the next step by dealing with the negative effects of the past and help them through the dating process, which can be particularly tricky.

Certified life coach and counselor Mrs. Surie Frenkel, also the mother of a blended family, says that anger and resentment toward an ex-spouse, family, rabbanim, or anyone else related to the first marriage is the greatest saboteur of healthy advancement and the most damaging factor to the process of looking for a new spouse — whether these feelings are justified or not.

But besides personal emotional preparedness, there is another factor in being ready to enter the “parshah” again: the children. Are they ready to accept another life-altering change?

When parents break up, so does the stable world of their children. When a single mother is considering reentry into the shidduch world, she would be wise to objectively gauge the state of her children, says Mrs. Chana Rivka Jacobs, a shadchan and dating coach with the Binyan Adey Ad organization, who focuses on older singles and second marriages. If they’re not ready for this new step, large doses of undivided love and focused attention are advised for as long as necessary until they are prepared for their mother taking steps to remarry. Happy, emotionally prepared children significantly improve the chances for the success of the second marriage.


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