Look inside: While it’s easy for us to blame our former spouses for the mishap of the first relationship (if it is a divorce), it is essential that you examine yourself realistically to identify ways in which you also contributed to the failings of the first relationship. No matter how ‘bad’ our spouse was, the healthiest thing to do is to identify where you have also contributed to the first relationship, face it, and repent. It may take some time, but this is the best thing you can do for yourself and your future spouse. Failure to take responsibility for your own part in the relationship will end with the issues repeating themselves.
Let it Go: No matter how bad (or good) your first marriage was, you need to let go of the past. The only things you take from the past are lessons. Just like one cannot put new wine in an old wineskin, you cannot enter into a new relationship on the strength of an old one. There are things you need to let go- and truly let go. For some, the past may have been a painful and messy one, you need to put it behind you and move on to what God has in sort for you in the future. This means that it will not be the center-point of your new relationship. And you will bring it up only when it is necessary.
Have realistic expectations: Some people have been so let down in the past that they expect too much from their spouses. Or too little. One thing we need to realize is that as long as we live on this part of eternity, we human beings are characterized by imperfections. These imperfections will be magnified and amplified when you start living together as man and wife. Your spouse is your spouse, not your healer, not your deliverer and not anything else. We need to put that into perspective and not have expectations of them that only God can fulfill. They are as much of a human being as we are, and they have as many issues as we do to. They also have things they expect from us. Be ready to meet your spouse halfway (you may want to check out my comprehensive blog post on expectations while you’re at it).
Be flexible and ready to deal with unexpected realities: While I am not asking you to compromise your core values, you must learn to be flexible and accommodating to new realities. These new realities may mean a new definition of family for you and your spouse. If either or both of you have had children from the past, this will also mean new realities for them too. You both must discuss your parenting styles, decide how to manage the dynamics of a blended family, and your position to your children as a couple. This is a very important element in a blended relationship and must not be assumed or glossed over. Having these discussions up front and reaching a compromise is a great way of strengthening your relationship with your spouse and building trust with their children.
Now, more than ever, seek counseling and invest in your marriage- don’t make assumptions that things will just work out- ‘Old, natural patterns will persist unless serious effort is made to change them’. Just as you have invested in your education or business or career, you need to make a greater investment in your marriage- especially if it is the second time around- invest resources, time and prayers together as a couple. Consistently seek godly counsel. This is the bedrock of a good marriage. If you don’t invest in your marriage, the weeds of the past have the tendency of growing and choking the new things that God is building. Investing also means spiritual investment on yourself- spend more time with God and let His Spirit rub off on you. Now, more than ever, the Fruit of the Spirit- love joy, peace long-suffering, gentleness meekness are needed. These are elements essential for any marriage. This is an investment we all need to make.
New beginnings are beautiful, but are not always easy. In a second marriage, there are some things you need to un-learn , re-learn, and learn . There are some mindsets you need to renew, and some issues you need to let go. Daunting as it may seem, it is worth it. No marriage is ever easy, no spouse is perfect. Determine in your heart that you will be happy no matter what.
Believe that you will have a great marriage and be ready to commit yourself to it- As a man thinks in His heart, so is he. Believe the best of your marriage; believe the best of your future. As you believe that you will have a great marriage, the God will command the forces to heaven to move on the wings of your faith to give you the wisdom, strength, and resources to make it the best marriage ever. Many people have made beautiful marriages the second time around. And you will be an example of one of them. Put your hands in God’s hand and let Him lead you in the path of peace in this marriage. You will receive the joy of the Lord which will strengthen you to live the life that God intended.
Remember, God is your Help. Trust Him, and let Him build your home.