Married to 4
Second marriages are a little more complex than first marriages. When you first get married you generally don't have much complexity to bring to the marriage - you may have a child from a previous relationship or drama from a previous relationship, but there is nothing that can compare to a previous marriage.
Tying the knot for a second time means that you have been married, separated, divorced, and are getting married again. You have made a till-death-do-you-part type of vow and broken it. There is something bigger than not liking that person or something they do anymore. It's bigger than breaking off a dating relationship. You have broken a commitment - a promise - a bond.
A second marriage gives you a different perspective. You know what you want and what you don't want. You have suffered through a divorce, seen your rock bottom, and you never want to be there again. There is a different level of respect you have for relationships, marriage, and commitment than you ever had before. You take dating more seriously. There is no such thing as wasting your time when you know it won't work. You don't try to see if things will change, you don't try to change someone, and when someone does something you don't agree with - you tell them. There is less tolerance for playing games and more willingness for vulnerability and fast paced moving.
One of the trickiest thing about a second marriage is that you marry the man/woman, you marry their ex, their children, and their family. It's a complete package. I married my husband and gained two beautiful daughters - I also married his ex wife... this is the tricky part. When you are marrying someone who has been married before and has children, then you are committing to make it work with their ex forever too. It's not just about the 18 years that the kids are at home because then there will be growing pains, weddings, grandchildren, and many more family events where you will all have to be one big happy family. I didn't marry 1, I married 4.
There is also the baggage of how the previous marriage failed. The comparison to the ex and the unconscious expectation for the second marriage to fail as the first did. You easily slip into old behaviors and it is twice as hard to make a second marriage work than a first. I cannot imagine a third or fourth marriage and I am so grateful I know I will never have to experience that either.
Expanding the family can always be a difficult hurdle to cross as well. You never want a new addition to the family to seem more important than the current members of the family. It's difficult to not be super excited about an addition - you should be excited!! But, don't put the new child in a more important role than the current children. Kids are already struggling to accommodate to such a new life and change that it can be difficult at times to combine families or have new children. Be mindful of the kids you have, their emotions, and opinions - be sure they know that you are not going to love them less and then show them that! Kids believe what they see more than what you say.
From one childless partner to another - It is difficult to enter into a marriage with a man who has children because they are "his" not yours. When you introduce the kids, do you say they are yours? Do you say they are his? Do you say they are hers? What are you allowed to identify as? Mom/Dad? The mother/father figure? Not as a parent at all? This is just as difficult for adults to define as it is for kids to define.
To all those people out there who think that parenting is defined by birthing - do you have the same perspective of adoptive families as you have for blended families? Why are there so many double standards? I must say that if you are present in a child's life, living in their home and a guardian to them then you are as much a parent as a birthing parent it. This applies to adopted children, blended families, and guardianships.
Even with all the challenges, there are so many benefits to a second marriage. You have so much more knowledge from the first time that you can apply to the second. There is generally time that passes allowing you to heal - as well as - counseling that allows you to work on the issues from the first marriage. There is never an instance when the first marriage fail was the responsibility of just one person, it takes two to tango. This is the thing to remember - there are problems and those need resolving before you decide to move on.
Being whole and learning to love yourself again is a great adventure to tackle before dating again to search for that second someone. It's so very important to really take some time to focus on you and re-learn who you are. You have changed and are a new person from who you were before you married the first time. Take some time and re-learn who you are again. It's okay to be single for a while and refocus before you dive in.