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Why Remarriages Fail and How to Avoid It


Recent statistics show that the rate of divorce for first marriages is 40%, second marriages is 60-67% and third marriages is 70-73% ( These high percentage rates for remarriages demonstrate the fragility of them, but they do not identify the cause. According to an AOL poll, the top reasons for divorce in a remarriage are:

  1. New spouse is too much like the ex spouse
  2. Raising step children and dealing with the ex spouse causes too much conflict and pressure

The fact that these reasons were the most identified is not surprising when compared to other studies that have been done. In fact, this survey supports numerous past studies which have demonstrated that remarriage divorces occur more often when there are children involved and when individuals do not resolve underlying issues left from their first marriage and divorce.

New spouse is too much like the ex spouse. (AKA – I moved on too quickly.)

The average length of time to remarry after a divorce is 3 years and studies show that most people need 2 years post divorce to heal with some even reporting that it took up to 5 years to let go of old anger, shame, resentment or sadness.

What does this mean in relation to the top reason for divorce according to this survey? It shows that many people simply get remarried too quickly after their divorce.

If it takes an average of 2 years to resolve emotions from the divorce and most remarry at 3 years, it shows that many people begin dating and moving on before they are emotionally ready. By moving into another relationship too quickly, they are not able to deal with outstanding feelings and issues. By not looking at ways you contributed to your divorce and without identifying what you need moving forward, you are likely to repeat past mistakes and old patterns. These old habits and unresolved feelings can cause you to gravitate to old comforts without even being conscientiously aware of what you are doing.

Plainly, by moving on too quickly you can find yourself in the same exact position you were in during your last marriage. Another aspect about this answer choice is that the people choosing this option are still not working through emotions from their past or current divorce. They are shifting the blame completely onto the other person. By saying that your remarriage ended due to your new spouse being too much like your old spouse, you are essentially listing your ex-spouses as the cause for your divorces. You are implying that there is something wrong with them and that they alone are the reason for the split.

Raising step children and dealing with the ex spouse causes too much conflict and pressure. (AKA – We didn’t have the right resources to succeed.)

Going into to a remarriage with children from a previous relationship is consistently listed as a top predictor of and reason for divorce. Why? For one, most couples go into a remarriage with unrealistic expectations. You think that things will work out as long as you take the high road, make good decisions and try your hardest. But the truth is, new families are being created everyday without the right resources around them to succeed. Extended family may not be supportive, you may be dealing with conflict with ex-spouses, you do not have a support system that understands your unique challenges and your children may be dealing with loyalty and grief issues. Everything thrown together would be extremely difficult to handle for even the strongest of couples.

Too many times, those in remarriages do not share their struggles due to shame, guilt, or sadness. They feel like they should be doing a better job or that it must be difficult because of their own weaknesses or faults. This self-isolation actually causes issues to grow and stress to intensify. Resources to know what to expect and how to handle difficulties are not always readily available for couples struggling in a remarriage and blended family.

Reaching out to those who have been in your position, talking to a counselor familiar with blended family issues, and working to strengthen communication in your home are ways to help your marriage succeed. Remember that the issues you are facing are common for remarriages and there are ways to get advice and help for outstanding concerns and issues. Do not let shame, guilt or fear stop you from growing in your marriage and locating help when you need it.

Both of these issues, while common, do not have to remain top concerns. Each are avoidable with a little planning, self-reflection and personal growth.

Why Remarriages Fail and How to Avoid It

Amy Bellows, PhD

Amy Bellows holds a PhD in Psychology and has had the opportunity to work in various settings including leading adolescent group therapy sessions, working with victims of sexual assault, helping woman inmates adjust to post-prison life, conducting parenting education classes and assisting with drug and alcohol dependency treatment plans. The unique challenges and opportunities that come along with being a part of a step-family is a special interest of hers. Amy is currently working in the corporate environment with a interest in group dynamics and change management. You can find her on her website, or on Twitter @AmyBellowsPhD.

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APA Reference
Bellows, A. (2015). Why Remarriages Fail and How to Avoid It. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Oct 2015
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