Oscar Wilde wrote, "Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience." The Irish writer had a good point. People who are widowed or, specifically, divorced know that marriage isn’t always a fairy tale, and it doesn’t always end happily. But that doesn’t stop people from trying again, particularly as they grow older.
Statistics show that 67% of those ages 55 to 64 who were previously wed will remarry. But there’s another sobering statistic these couples should consider. On paper, at least, they are more likely than not to experience another marriage upheaval, which is why you and your partner should sit down and ask each some questions before giving marriage a go again.
The rates for marital breakups for second marriages are 60 to 67 percent while nearly three out of four third marriages end. Compare those percentages with more than half of first marriages — 50 to 59 percent — that will succeed.
That doesn’t mean you should scrap the save the date cards. Every couple differs, of course, and the harder you work at your relationship, the better your chances.
Here are four questions to consider before repeating a walk down the aisle:
1. Do we need a prenup?
Few subjects hit a sharper nerve among altar-bound couples. To some, the thought of a prenup (short for prenuptial agreement) sullies the romantic image of hearts, flowers, and happily ever after. By discussing the “D’’ word before the “M” word has even started, are couples being pessimistic or just practical?
The decision is personal, of course, but more couples appear to be going that route. A survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a trade association for divorce lawyers, found that 62 percent of members saw an increase in the number of couples seeking prenups.
Couples who are remarrying usually have more to consider. They often bring more assets to the marriage. They have homes to merge, families to blend, and savings to consider.
Some experts say prenups should just be considered another form of financial planning. One important issue it can cover is determining what property is marital property and what is separate property, to be protected in the event of a divorce.
2. Should we keep finances separate?
That could save your marriage. One survey shows that money fights are the second leading cause of divorce, behind infidelity. High levels of debt is a major cause of financial stress. In fact, 86 percent of couples married five years or less started off in the red.
Keeping finances separate can be done in various ways. Some couples keep separate savings accounts but pay household and long-term expenses together from shared earnings. Others allocate expenses such as "I’ll pay the taxes from my earnings, you pay the mortgage from yours." Still others pay expenses together but keep a specific amount to spend without the partner’s input.
3. Have we updated our financial information?
So you’ve got your will updated and the prenup is complete. That covers everything, right?
It's a good idea to check your beneficiary designations once a year anyway to make sure any life changes, such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces, are reflected in your decisions.
You may also want to add your new spouse to a health insurance plan at work. Check with your HR department to learn when you can submit the paperwork.
4. Do we communicate clearly?
They say you don’t just marry a spouse...you also marry their family.
In remarriages, that family might be too large to fit in a minivan. Your children, your spouse’s children, your children together, their grandparents, including your ex’s parents, exes … it’s a lot to deal with.
There is no magic bullet to remarriage success, but failing to communicate clearly can quickly weaken a new relationship. How much do you spend on holiday presents? How do you avoid holiday gift-giving becoming a competition? Who pays for back-to-school supplies? Summer camp?
Keeping the lines of communication open can create a more organized and less stressful environment and give you time to spend together to do the things you enjoy and talk about subjects that don’t involve dollar signs and decimal points.
Our free downloadable Money Management Planner is a great way to open up a discussion about finances with your partner. It's packed with worksheets, tips, and information that will put you both on the right footing in your marriage.
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