CRYSTAL LAKE – Jonathan Hart is planning a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner with a woman he wants to be his fourth wife.
The 58-year-old consultant from McHenry knows that statistically, the odds are against him. In the U.S., the divorce rate is 3.5 per 1,000 people while the marriage rate is 7.1 per 1,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And studies show the divorce rate is higher for those who already have one or two failed marriages.
Nonetheless, Hart is confident that there is love after divorce. He recently became engaged to Barbara Wroblewski, though they aren’t in a hurry to get hitched.
“We are enjoying our engagement and planning for the future,” Hart said. “We’re both going into this with our eyes open.”
Wroblewski, who also has been married before, said that while romantic dinners are nice, communication is what makes their relationship hum.
There are plenty of distractions and disruptions on the path to remarriage, but it is common for those who have failed to make marriage stick to try, try again.
“Most people who divorce do end up getting remarried. Not all, but most,” said Vicki Santos, a licensed clinical psychologist in Crystal Lake.
Children, extended family, and ex-spouses all can make the second time around more difficult. Rarely is there a story-book second marriage, said Susan Olesch, a licensed clinical psychologist at Comprehensive Counseling Services in Algonquin.
“People go into it with this ‘Brady Bunch’ idealization,” Olesch said. “But marriage doesn’t solve anything.”
Creating a blended family often is a challenge, for children as much as for the two adults getting married. Although it takes only a day to get married, forming a cohesive family often takes much longer.
“The toughest thing is the stepfamily,” Olesch said.
Other experts agreed.
“Depending on how that is handled, it can make or break the relationship,” said Tom Gorey, licensed clinical psychologist with Center for Wholistic Counseling in Crystal Lake.
A factor many couples tend to overlook is compatibility.
“Opposites may attract, but they don’t do well together for very long,” Olesch said.
The key to making a second marriage work starts with figuring out what went wrong with the first.
“Each partner plays a part in a divorce,” Gorey said. “There is no perfect partner and there is no perfect relationship.”
In his premarital counseling sessions, Gorey said he has each person complete an assessment that touches on issues such as family, parenting, money, religion, leisure and sex.
“The goal is to talk through potential trouble spots that, if not addressed, are likely to come up at some point in the relationship,” he said.
While interference hampers every relationship, Olesch said it is helpful for couples to take time to spend together.
“Court, kids, family, and exes all makes it hard to focus on each other,” she said. “It’s essential to make time and space in your life for your partner.”
All of the psychologists interviewed for this article recommended some form of premarital counseling for those looking to get remarried. Such services can be found through a psychologist or religious organization.