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Will Your Next Marriage be Better?By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 05, 2011
Discover the surprising statistics about second and third marriages, and why they have such a poor success rate.
“It’s time for me to move on. I’ve learned so much – I just know that next time it will be better.”
“Our new relationship has a great chance, because we’ve both been married before and have learned a lot. We know that this time around we will do it so much better.”
Is this true? Apparently not!
According to research by Jennifer Baker, of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri, while 50% of first marriages end in divorce, 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages end in divorce.
Is this surprising?
From my experience, most people who end their marriages have not learned what they need to learn, so they take their same fears and insecurities, and their resulting controlling and self-abandoning behaviors, with them into their second and third marriages. Of course, eventually they create the same or similar relationship system.
Most people who leave marriages believe that the problem is mostly their partner. But relationships are systems, with both people participating in the system. If you are not aware of the overt and subtle ways you control and abandon yourself in your relationship, then you will take all your wounded behaviors with you into your next relationship.
The thing is, we keep attracting the same kind of person, as long as we are the same kind of person.
I’ve long maintained that leaving a marriage before you have dealt with your own controlling and self-abandoning behaviors is often a waste of time (unless you are in physical and emotional danger). Now the research on marriage proves this to be true. If partners were devoted to healing their controlling, self-abandoning wounded selves, the divorce statistics would go way down – for first, second and third marriages.
The Real Issue Behind These Statistics
Self-abandonment leads to trying to control your partner into giving you the attention and approval you are not giving to yourself. There is little possibility of sharing love, fun, and passion with your partner when your intent is to have control over getting love and to avoid both the pain of your own self-abandonment, and the inevitable loneliness and heartache that exist in all relationships to varying degrees. Until your intent changes from protecting/controlling to learning to love yourself and sharing your love with your partner, you will keep creating the same relationship dynamics over and over.
Ryan consulted with me because the love of his life – the woman he thought he would spend the rest of his life with, left him after an intense six-month courtship. Both Ryan and Roz had been married before. In fact, Ron had been married three times before. Both in their early 60s, their relationship seemed made in heaven. They could laugh and play together, and the chemistry between them was intense.
Roz was a giver, who had learned to give everything in relationships – and would then feel engulfed and trapped. Ryan was a taker, and was so enthralled by Roz’s giving that it didn’t take him long to completely abandon responsibility for his feelings and wellbeing, making Roz responsible for him.
Roz, not knowing how to articulate her feelings of engulfment, or how to take loving care of herself in the face of Ryan’s pull on her, abruptly ended the relationship. That’s when Ryan called.
The point here is that neither Ryan nor Roz had dealt with their wounded selves. Both were abandoning themselves and, in different ways, trying to have control over getting love and avoiding pain. Their relationship was fantastic at the beginning, before their wounded selves got triggered. It’s sad that Roz wasn’t willing to work on her end of the relationship system, and it’s hopeful that Ryan, now working on his, will heal enough so that he won’t repeat this system again.
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