Finding Love Again: Making a Second Marriage Work

Jane’s husband died of cancer when Jane was in her early forties. She didn’t know if she’d be alone the rest of her life, and the thought scared her. But just a few months later she reconnected with a childhood friend and, after dating for four years, they married. Jane feels like she has a whole new lease of life. Her first marriage was often rocky, but with this man she’s relaxed and feels cherished. It’s wonderful.

Susan, now 57, has a different story. She and her first husband had been together for 22 years, in what Susan thought was a good marriage. They did things together. They had hobbies. They even took a year’s sabbatical to take their children around the world. They had adventures. Yet one day her husband sat down with her and told her, out of the blue, that he had met another woman.

Susan’s self-esteem was shot, and she spent the next ten years working on herself – building up good friendships, having adventures of her own, travelling and volunteering. On one of these volunteer excursions she met a man about her age who had recently been widowed. They’ve been married for two years now, and Susan has never been happier.

Diane was 43 and had always been single when she decided to start looking online. She met a pastor who had been divorced (his wife left him), and they’ve been happily married for five years now.

Last Saturday, my good friend Donna was married for the second time. Her first husband, like Susan’s, left her for another woman, leaving her with three kids to raise. Donna spent the next decade or so doing just that. And though she longed to get married again, looking around the Christian community in her small town, it didn’t look like much of a possibility. There just weren’t single Christian men around.

Yet a little over a year ago Donna started dating a man who was new in his faith. The man has grown by leaps and bounds, and God is opening up doors of ministry for Donna that she never dreamed of. It’s so neat to see what God is doing in her life, and now she’s finally going to get that chance at real love again.

I know many of my readers are like Donna, Susan or Jane. You wanted a marriage that lasted your whole lifetime but, for whatever reason, your first marriage didn’t last. Maybe it was because he died, but more often than not, the marriage fell apart for other reasons. How do you find love again?

I personally believe that God loves marriage, and that marriage is a good thing that helps us fight against loneliness and helps us have a partner to support us in everything. If your first marriage ended because your husband broke vows – by having an affair, by being abusive, etc. – then I think remarriage can be a wonderful thing.

I know some women feel called to wait for their wayward husbands to return. If God has asked you to do that, and He’s giving you the strength for it, then that’s wonderful. But I think that He does bless it when two believers choose to marry so that they can serve Him together – even if their pasts aren’t perfect.

So, today let’s talk about how to find that ‘special someone’ when you’re not 20 anymore.

How to find a husband in your middle years

1. Get out and do interesting things

If someone were to ask you what sort of man you’d want to marry, what would you say? You’d likely want someone who was interesting, who had hobbies, who volunteered, who did things. Well, if you want to meet that kind of person, you yourself need to be interesting also. You need to have hobbies, volunteer etc. Susan found her husband when they were working together on a hospital volunteer project.

You aren’t going to meet people sitting at home doing nothing. So volunteer, especially at city-wide Christian or church things, like a Christian radio station, a food bank, or a missions team.

2. Check out other churches

Your church may not have a lot of single middle aged men. So broaden your horizons! Visit other churches. Ask friends to set you up. I know it’s scary, but if it’s something you really want, you need to go out and make it happen, not just sit back and hope that someone crosses your path.

3. Consider online dating

We’re often scared of online dating because of the fear of getting fixed up with someone creepy, or someone dangerous. Are there really good guys online?

You betcha! Think about it this way: you’re a great woman, and you’re thinking of looking online. Why wouldn’t there also be a great guy – maybe who has a demanding career so he doesn’t have a lot of time to meet people – who is also stuck in a church where there aren’t a lot of single women? Why not try it?

eHarmony.com.au, for instance, doesn’t give out your name and address until you choose to. You get to know the person online, and you can ask them questions. I recommend: “what’s your favourite Bible verse other than John 3:16” to make sure they really are a Christian, and “what did you last volunteer at at church” to make sure they do really go.

If getting married again is a priority for you, then treat it like a priority. This doesn’t mean that you don’t trust God, and you do, of course, always need to remember that God comes first, not a relationship. If He asks you to be single, you need to be content with that. Even us married women! We need to know that whatever comes, God will always be enough.

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t go out and try to find someone, if that’s a desire that He has put in your heart (and I do believe that it’s a natural one). I don’t like the thought of people being alone when they don’t want to be. So give online dating a try – you can even filter by religion – then pray about it and see what happens.

How to decide whether to marry him

If you’ve met a prospective husband, here are a few things to consider:

4 things you need in a husband

I wrote a post a while ago for younger women about the four things you need in a husband. It applies just as much the second time around –perhaps more so, because you’ll have baggage, and the marriage will be that much more of a challenge.

You’ll need to share your time and passions – can you?

I know a woman who’s in her late 60s. She’s been divorced for forty years. She’s had the opportunity to date again lately (it seems that once you hit 60 those opportunities increase because more men are widowed). But she has said no.

She’s happy as she is. Yes, she gets lonely and misses having a husband sometimes. But she is very close to her children and grandchildren, and knows that if she were to remarry, she’d have to ‘adopt’ his children and grandchildren, too. And she’d have to spend less time on some of the ministries she’s involved in to take on more of his. And she just doesn’t want her time being carved up like that.

So she has chosen to remain single, and I think that’s likely wise.

How much baggage does he have?

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll marry someone after age 40 who doesn’t have significant baggage from previous relationships. After all, you probably have baggage too. Before you marry, find out what that baggage is. Sit down with a counsellor and make sure you know the whole story. Be careful of anything that smells of abuse, financial carelessness, etc.

And remember that when you marry, you’re taking on the children as well – if there are any. What are the custody arrangement like? Are he and his ex constantly going to court? Do his kids get along with your kids?

If you’re prayed through these things, and decided that this is the guy – as my friend Donna has –then here are some more thoughts:

How to make that second marriage work

If this is a second marriage, how do you make it work? I asked for some advice on my Facebook page a while ago to give to my friend Donna, and it was wonderful! Here are some snippets:

  • Don’t jump to conclusions. There are things that all men do. And when the new man does the same thing the old man did, it will cause a bit of a flashback. Always remember, he’s the new guy, not the old one.
  • Be patient with each other. It’s hard to unlearn the things you learned in your previous marriage.
  • Be more loving. I’m also on my second marriage and I promised myself I would be a different person from the inside out. I’m more understanding, more comforting, more loving and definitely more open to intimacy. I also learned what isn’t acceptable in a marriage. I’ve learned that he doesn’t deserve to be compared to my ex and nor has he done what my ex has done.
  • Let no one come between you except Jesus Christ. Never say anything unpleasant about each other to anyone else. Anything material that is left from the first marriage (furnishings, dishes, art work, that sort of thing) I advise she get rid of – give away or sell – just seeing these things in the household can trigger memories, even at a subconscious level.
  • From someone who was in a 20 year abusive marriage and has been remarried for almost two years to a very loving, caring man…remember life is too short for any drama, say “I love you” every single day and enjoy this wonderful blessing God has given you for a second chance at love.

There are so many more great tidbits there! Go check it out.

My prayers are with Donna as she moves into her new life!

And for the rest of you: what advice would you have for a woman who is getting married for the second time?

(Please, in the comments, let’s not debate whether or not it’s okay to remarry. I agree that remarriage is not right if there were no proper grounds for divorce, but I do believe that if there were grounds for divorce, there are also grounds for remarriage, and I really don’t want to debate that in the blog. So many people reading this blog ARE on their second marriages, and I do want to see these marriages thrive, too–rather than subjecting them to condemnation. And I also believe that when you have been abused or cheated on, there is a lot of grace out there. God can redeem, and I don’t want the comments section to be hurtful to my friend, or to others walking through this. Thank you.)

I was partially compensated for the links in this post.