Remarriage issues

Maybe 'I Do'
Kevin Andrews
Buy New $34.95

- October 18, 2013

Almost one-third of marriages across the USA are among the previously married.

So whether by divorce or a death, those who head to the altar again face different issues than first-timers, says the author of a new book aimed at helping couples navigate another union.

“They run into the kinds of problems they never anticipated because they thought ‘We’re all going to love each other on the spot,’” says Maggie Scarf, whose new book The Remarriage Blueprint: How Remarried Couples and Their Families Succeed or Fail, is out Tuesday.

Scarf, a fellow at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., conducted lengthy, face-to-face interviews with 80 remarried individuals over a 10-year period to see how their marriages fared. She tells of the obstacles that seven remarried couples faced in combining families, bank accounts and daily routines.

Some believe they can avoid some of these issues by just living together instead of getting married, say experts on marriage and relationships. They note that the rise of cohabitation is one of the factors in a recent decline in remarriages.

A new analysis of federal data, provided exclusively to USA TODAY, shows the USA’s remarriage rate has dropped 40 per cent over the past 20 years. The analysis of federal data, from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, shows that in 2011, just 29 of every 1,000 divorced or widowed Americans remarried, down from 50 per 1,000 in 1990; 2011 was the most recent year available for the center’s review.

In her book, Scarf cites research that shows 40 per cent of new marriages include one previously-married partner. She discusses challenges in remarriage and the forces that make the new partner an “outsider,” from children and parenting tasks that put the couple at odds to the uniting of disparate family cultures.

One of the biggest: “There are huge money issues in remarriage,” she says.

Others also warn of financial stumbling blocks in remarriages.

Couples need to share credit reports and discuss all types of financial issues, including future caregiving responsibilities and how much the previous divorce impacted their financial lives, says Brent Neiser, senior director of the Denver-based National Endowment for Financial Education, which has produced a free downloadable pamphlet for those about to remarry.

“People entering remarriage may have a higher level of awareness of the financial issues because each has gone through a financial history with another person. Some of that history is good history; some is bad. They probably have a hit list of personal finance issues,” he says.

“It’s not just the coming together of people trying to share their goals and dreams; they’re reeling financially from the divorce disruption in their life that could have affected their career and their money.”

Source: Sharon Jayson, USA Today, September 12, 2013