Why Second and Third Marriages Fail

For most of us, we believe that we learn from our mistakes and make better choices the next time around. However, when it comes to second and third marriages, statistics show that it doesn’t necessarily apply. Surprisingly, 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce. We’ve all heard the daunting statistics on first marriages, but few realize the even more alarming rate of divorce for the second or third time around. Why is this? Here are the most common reasons for you to digest.

After a divorce, you go through a stage of healing, personal growth and reflection. Many will analyze their failed relationship and try and determine what went wrong and who was to blame. So what if you rush into a relationship before you had enough time to figure all this out? Since you haven’t determined the why, then how can you know why it will work the next time?

Divorce is not a tragedy

It’s a “been there, done that” mentality. You’ve been through it, survived it and have been desensitized to the tragedy of it all. The unknown fears from the first divorce don’t exist. You know how it works and although still emotionally difficult, you’ve divorced before and know you can do it again. You “may even recognize the warning signs earlier than they did first time round and are quicker to react, more determined to minimize the agony.”

His Children, Her Children

Commonly, in a second and third marriage each has children from a first marriage. Conflicting parenting styles, schedules, and ex-spouses can be a source of discord. Blending families can be “challenging, frustrating, and at times exhausting” says Thomas L. Cory, PH.D. Because of this, “rivalries and arguments arise, making this a constant area of conflict.”

Financial Woes

Outside of “normal” financial compatibility issues, in a second and third marriage, the financial obligations from the first marriage carry over. These can be financially burdensome and cause resentment, anger and hostility in a marriage. Whether its alimony, child support or carried debt, this is a common source of difficulty.


A person can easily pass the blame on a previously failed marriage on their ex. However, without taking any responsibility for their choices, behaviors or actions, they are at risk for making the same mistakes again. Without this personal assessment, it’s more probable that a second or third marriage will fail as well. “Learn what works and doesn’t work for you in a relationship. Change those behaviors of yours which make sense to change. Avoid relating to someone new who exhibits the same behaviors you couldn’t tolerate in your first marriage.”

“But the most important step couples can take to prevent a second divorce is honestly recognizing why the first marriage didn’t work”, “No one wants to repeat the past, even if divorce isn’t a stigma.”