FAQ: Are Second and Third Marriages More Prone to Divorce?

By:
Michael Tierney
Updated
July 7, 2022

If you have been divorced, you will likely do anything to avoid going through it again. It is always difficult when a marriage ends, and you are left to try and rebuild your life. While it is possible to lead a happy life after divorce, you might struggle to get a feel for single life again. Eventually, the situation gets easier, and you can pursue your life with a fresh start despite your divorce.

Sometimes, part of this new life involves getting back into your dating life and meeting someone new. Often, post-divorce life involves searching for a new significant other with the potential to remarry. However, some concerns about marriages rise from the ashes of a previous union.

Divorce, as unpleasant as it is, is a common ending to many marriages in the country. While divorce can be a heartbreaking way for your relationship to end, it is in no way shameful to have your marriage end that way. However, many are concerned about whether subsequent marriages after a divorce are more likely to end the same way. Given how common divorce is, it is not unreasonable to worry that your next marriage could lead to another divorce.

This article will focus on determining whether 2nd or 3rd marriages are more likely to end in divorce than your 1st marriage.

How Many Marriages End in Divorce?

Marriage is a complicated partnership between you and your significant other. It usually requires a fair amount of consideration before committing to such an advanced relationship. It is meant to be a wonderful progression with the person you love so you can continue to spend the rest of your lives together. Unfortunately, not all marriages can last and occasionally end before their time.

Marriage Ending in Divorce

There is a good chance that divorce has brought you to this article, and we know that it is difficult to process a lost marriage. However, you might find comfort in knowing you are not alone in the world of divorce.

Solution The truth is that almost 50% of marriages in the United States alone end in divorce.

This might not be the most encouraging statistic in the world, but it might help you reconcile with the situation to some degree. However, the country's divorce rate is not going down anytime soon. The United States is currently tied for the 10th highest divorce rate in the world, sharing the slot with Denmark, Latvia, and Lithuania. However, these statistics are a mean value of the total number of divorces in the country.

Solution In the United States, first marriages tend to last an average of 8 years, which might not seem very promising.

The short lifespan of first marriages is not set in stone, and some marriages last well past the 8-year mark and persevere through the rest of the couple's lives. While nearly half of marriages in the country end in divorce, more than half are successful. It is also important to note that 41% of first marriages end in divorce, meaning around 59% of marriages make it past that 8-year mark and continue without divorcing.

However, you did not come to this article solely to learn generalities about divorce statistics. While first marriages have a 41% divorce rate, you are likely here because you have already endured a divorce. The real question is whether any future marriages you have are more likely to end in divorce.

Do Second and Third Marriages Fail More Often?

Divorce is common enough that nearly half of initial marriages end prematurely. However, the question of subsequent marriages affects the minds of all Americans considering remarriage. You might be eager to return to the dating world, but you should prioritize emotional and psychological healing after the divorce. This is especially true if your divorce is hostile due to poor developments in your relationship with your spouse. However, some find themselves dating again within a year of the divorce. That said, the average American generally waits three years after the divorce to resume dating.

Couple Filing For Divorce

When you start dating again, you are likely looking for someone with whom you can spend the remainder of your life. Even when your first marriage ends, it is reasonable to want to find someone new. However, this does not necessarily mean your 2nd or even 3rd marriage will be any more successful than your original marriage. There are similar statistics behind subsequent marriages as there are behind the initial marriage.

Solution According to the most recent studies, 60% of all 2nd marriages end in divorce, which is a steep 10% increase from the divorce rates for 1st marriages. The rates for 3rd marriages are not much better, with 73% of 3rd marriages resulting in divorce, a 23% increase from first marriages.

This information indicates that subsequent marriages are more prone to divorce than your initial marriage. While this might be discouraging, it is important to remember that these are percentages. You have every opportunity to be in the demographic that does not experience another divorce.

Insofar as subsequent marriages are concerned, the average lifespan of the marriages is shorter than your first. For example, when a 2nd marriage ends in divorce, the average lifespan of the marriage is just under eight years. While not a significant difference compared to the initial marriage, 3rd marriages have a much shorter duration. On average, 3rd marriages only last five years. This further shows that subsequent marriages are not only more prone to divorce but tend not to last as long.

However, the fact that subsequent marriages can be 23% more likely to end in divorce is a reason to pause and consider the situation before you begin dating again. After all, rushing into a relationship after a divorce is more likely to cement the odds against you. While we understand that you might be interested in finding a new partner after your recovery period, it is important to stop and consider the factors that might adversely affect your future relationship and what contributes to increased divorce rates in subsequent marriages.

What Leads Second and Third Marriages to Divorce?

The biggest issue with remarrying is that the events from your previous marriage have lasting effects on your future relationships. Sometimes, these effects are beneficial and prepare you to build a healthier relationship with someone new than you could have with your ex-spouse. However, other times the effects are detrimental and cause the new relationship to deteriorate more quickly. Keeping your history in mind can make or break your next relationship if you are not careful.

Solution One of the biggest causes of divorce in subsequent marriages is your survival instinct.

Divorce is a life-altering and emotionally trying event that quickly brings all of your marriage's complications and issues to the surface. Because you have already survived a relationship that has gone awry and seen where the problem areas are, it can lead to complications in your new marriage. As a result, you or your spouse could be overly cautious when entering a new relationship and more likely to end the relationship when you start seeing similar patterns.

This sensitive fight or flight response puts you in a position of having one foot out the door. We are not saying it means you are looking for an excuse to leave the relationship, only that your past experiences can cause you to misattribute certain disagreements to hostile behavior. Essentially, your baggage can keep you from fully committing to the relationship out of fear of going through the same issues you had with your ex-spouse with your new spouse.

Married Couple Arguing

However, this does not necessarily affect every divorcee, and there are other catalysts for divorce from a 2nd or 3rd spouse.

Solution One of the most common points of conflict is with your children.

While the number of couples who divorce is 40% lower than normal if they have children, that is still around 10% of divorces where the children are caught in the middle. Often, the children you have with your ex-spouse can be a point of conflict with your new spouse. We want to make it painfully clear that we are not saying your children will cause divorce, but some people have trouble connecting with children who are not their own.

Stepchildren are a sensitive subject since your new spouse will likely feel uncomfortable being an authority figure in your child's life. It is not because they do not care about your child but because they feel the child will not be responsive to them as a parental figure. This can cause a strain on your new spouse since they will feel unwelcome in your stepchild's life. This can be exacerbated if your children are openly hostile to your new spouse.

There is a common phenomenon among children of divorce where they hold onto the hope that you will reconcile with your original spouse. This is easily forgiven since few children want their parents to divorce. However, children with this hope tend to take out their frustrations on their stepparent by making home life difficult for your new spouse. This then loops back to the authority limitations your spouse will likely place on themselves to avoid making the tension between them and your children worse. Again, we want to stress that your children are not to blame for this outcome. However, these conflicts can contribute to the downfall of future marriages.

How Your Ex Contributes to Future Divorce

Sometimes, the issues with subsequent marriages have nothing to do with you or your children. One of the more complicated problems for subsequent marriages can result from your ex-spouse's interactions with you. An uncooperative ex can stir up drama that complicates life for you and your new spouse.

Generally, an ex-spouse will be thrilled to see you move on and find happiness again. Unfortunately, some take exception to any improvements in your life and actively work to make your life more difficult than it needs to be. Divorce can bring out the worst in people, especially those predisposed to confrontation. Your ex-spouse might insist on making trouble by trying to undermine you and your new spouse in whatever way possible.

Ex Contributing to Divorce

Undermining you could include badmouthing you to your children or doing the same to your spouse. Either way, this behavior could alienate your new spouse, as they will not be willing to take that sort of hostility for long and expect you to take steps against your ex to prevent further infractions. However, this can be a sensitive matter since upsetting your ex-spouse could damage a fragile peace formed in the divorce proceedings. The behaviors of your ex could adversely affect your relationship with your new spouse and jeopardize your entire relationship.

Ultimately, the issues that affect your relationship with a new spouse can be you, your children, or your ex. It is these factors that have served to boost the divorce rates of future marriages when compared to the one that first started the cycle. When it comes to divorce, there is a lot to learn about how to survive what comes after and protect yourself from the legal aspects of the situation. Fortunately, that knowledge is far more common now.

Learn the Law

Divorce is always going to be messy and unpleasant. It is a situation you only want to experience once in your life if you can help it. Unfortunately, there are times when divorce is something you go through multiple times. It is important to remember that marriage is difficult, and divorce is nothing to be ashamed of. However, you need to take care not to let your previous marriage affect what you have found with your new spouse. Sometimes, the issues are not something you can control, but you can learn more about divorce to try and protect your future marriage.

Divorce Law

Divorce law is extremely complicated, with some of the more nuanced details being indecipherable to anyone without a formal education in law. However, there are some basic details you can learn about to determine if your ex-spouse could prove to be a problem or how to prevent the divorce proceedings from blindsiding you. We know that divorce is emotionally trying, and we are sorry if it is something that has affected your life. However, we hope this article has helped you identify how to protect your future marriage from ending in the same way.

Written By:
Michael Tierney
Michael is a legal writer and graduate of WSU. Prior to becoming a legal writer, he had 6 years of experience as a legal assistant and office manager for a family law attorney. He's written about numerous legal subjects from helping spouses who are stuck in toxic situations to the intricacies of custody battles. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and building custom keyboards.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Learn Divorce Law Newsletter
Subscribe to receive information, free guides and tutorials