The Price the Next Spouse Pays

Marrying a divorced person can be hazardous if you’re not prepared to accept all the “extras” they bring with them. Divorce does not wipe out a person’s history in the same manner that reformatting a computer’s hard drive deletes old programs.

Do they have children? Even if your spouse isn’t the custodial parent, don’t expect him or her to abandon their children because you don’t want reminders of their spouse in your marital home or because you don’t get along with the children. Regardless of why the marriage ended, they’re still their children, too.

Are they making child support payments? Are you angry that your economics are being negatively impacted by child support payments? Child support is part of the package you accepted when you married just as custody and visitation are part of the package. It may seem unfair, but sometimes the new spouse ends up with less financially than the former spouse.

Does your spouse pay spousal support (alimony)? You may feel that his or her ex doesn’t deserve money out of “your” pocket, but that’s not your decision. If alimony was a stipulation of the divorce decree, they have a legal obligation to make timely payments regardless of any new obligations they might have.

Are you angry that your new in-laws remain in contact with the ex? The marriage may be over but if their spouse’s relationship with their in-laws was a good one, they have no reason to end the relationship. This is particularly true if there are children involved. How does anyone tell a child that, because their mother and father are divorced, they can no longer have contact with their grandparents?

Does your new spouse remain in contact with ex in-laws? Divorce doesn’t mean all friendships are required to end and if your spouse had strong friendships with some of his or her former in-laws, there is no reason for those friendships to end.

Does your spouse have a civil relationship with their ex? Do they talk on occasion? Are you afraid their relationship may turn intimate? Are you fearful they’ll get together? Not all exes hate each other. Some actually get along much better when they’re divorced than when they were married. If children are involved, it is certainly in the best interests of the children that they maintain a civil relationship toward each other.

Recognize the baggage they’re carrying. It’s not easy being the second, or third, spouse. It takes maturity and self-confidence to accept the baggage a divorced person brings to a new marriage. That’s why a lot of second, and third, marriages fail.

Don’t let your rush to tie the knot get in the way of taking time to understand the responsibilities your spouse brings into the marriage from a former marriage. Those responsibilities will become yours once you enter the legal contract of marriage. Make sure you know what you’re getting into and that the price is one you’re willing to pay.