If I had to build two garden sheds, both exactly the same, from kits, the pieces pre-cut and shaped, with detailed plans, knowing that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, I’d probably make a complete pig’s ear out of the first one. The second one, however, would probably turn out more or less all right.

Why? Because I’d had experience building the first one. But marriage doesn’t work out that way. The researchers tell us that 50% of first time marriages will end on the rocks of divorce. That’s a pretty shocking statistic, but worse than that is the fact that no less than 60% of second marriages fail.

Now, you’d think that people would come away from broken first marriages with a modicum of experience. ‘Well, we made this, that and the other mistake the first time. I’ll make darn good and sure I don’t repeat it.’ But of course it doesn’t happen like that.

When people have been through a bruising divorce battle, they’re in no mood to admit that, just perhaps, they should share some of the blame. They’ve had to fight tooth and nail for the house, the kids, alimony, the possessions in the house, etc., that they’re convinced at this stage that their ex-partner must be totally, 100% in the wrong. So the only ‘mistake’ they come away with from that first union is not to marry anyone like that again.

Then they find they’ve garnered enough from the divorce settlement to be able to go on a cruise. This is splendid, and they meet a Mr./Mrs./Ms Wonderful and immediately fall in love. The dark of the afterdeck, the soft, tropic breeze caressing their cheeks, the white wake like a ribbon of silver trailing out, almost as if they could tread this path of silver to find their fortunes. Oh, those cruises are love traps. By the time they return home, they’re hopelessly smitten with each other. What else can they do, but marry?

But the cruise, with its magically seductive ways, is no longer there to help them and they must face reality. Actually, they’ll probably be fine for the first few years, but they’re no longer spring chickens and both are set in their ways.

A telling quote comes from William J. Doherty, Ph.D., Director, Marriage and Family Therapy, University of Minnesota. “Partners bring to remarriage the stupidity of the first engagement, and the baggage of the first marriage.”

One interesting point is that you’d think people who lived together before marriage would have a head start and be that much more ready for a successful union. But no. This isn’t the case at all, apparently. People who live together first, have a higher divorce rate than those who don’t.

Makes you wonder whether we should go back to the days of the arranged marriage!

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