Like so many things in life, when it comes to marriage, we tend to act with our hearts first and minds second. But when it comes to deciding whether you should get remarried, you shouldn’t make a hasty decision for all sorts of reasons -- financial, emotional, or even circumstantial. “There are lots of things to consider before you decide to remarry," says Dr. Gary Stollman, a relationship expert in Beverly Hills and author of He Says/She Says -- A Guide to Overcoming Misunderstandings Between Men and Women. "As with so many life decisions, it's not one to be taken lightly." Dr. Stollman recommends asking yourself the following six questions to get answers that will paint a clearer picture for you.
"What's motivating my desire to get married?"
The only correct answer is that you're doing this because you truly love the person and you can’t wait to spend the rest of your life with them. That may seem easy enough, but it’s still a valid question. Why? "Some people decide to remarry because they're tired of being single, they’re the only ones left in their social circle that aren't married, or to please friends and family," admits Dr. Stollman. "It's only fair to the person you're with that you enter the marriage with the best of intentions."
"Have I given myself enough time?"
It's not a good idea to rush into any marriage, even when you're confident the feelings are real. Think about your last relationship and say out loud how long it’s been since your last marriage or relationship ended. If the answer makes you cringe, there’s a problem. “Sometimes people meet each other, and within three or four months, they say, 'Oh this person is the one for me,’” says Dr. Stollman. “In my experience, if you don’t know a person at least a year, you don’t know them very well. You just know their good side." But how long is long enough? The answer is unique to every couple, but as a standard, Dr. Stollman recommends waiting at least six to eight months before you assume you know anything solid about the person you’re dating -- even if you’ve known each other for many years before.
"Have we battled a storm together?"
Part of knowing all sides of the person you love is determining whether you've seen them at their best and worst. The beginning of a relationship tends to be the happiest, and there's a feeling that your relationship is almost invincible to sadness. But the truth is, everyone has tough times, and you deserve to be confident in how you'll overcome these moments together. "When things get tough, they may not deal with that situation in a way you’d be comfortable with," says Stollman. It's better to know this before getting married so you can address your problem-solving issues.
"What's your relationship like with their ex or children?"
A new marriage is a fresh start, but the second time around, you may be blending two families together. This means taking into consideration how the other family members, like their children or ex, feel about you -- and how you feel about them. "You like to think that you're just marrying that person, but you're actually entering into a relationship with their loved ones too," says Dr. Stollman. "If they're still raising children with an ex, you’ll have to interact with that person, whether your relationship is good or bad.” Make sure that all the relationships you’ll be bringing into your life will be healthy in the long run.
"Are our finances compatible?""Am I ready to be married again?"
In this economic climate especially, it's a good idea to clearly define for yourself what your current financial situation is and how it’ll fit with someone else's before you enter into a legal marriage that will financially bind you both. Are you in debt? Are they? Who makes more money? Will one of you be able to support the other should one of you lose your job? If so, how will that affect your 401(k) or any other money you may be putting aside for your children or another loved one? Dr. Stollman recommends you ask yourself all these questions almost immediately and then take the proper time to find the right answers before you proceed.
Dr. Stollman cautions, "People sometimes think that they may be ready but are often still in love with their ex, dealing with commitment issues, or dealing with unhealthy emotions from a previous divorce," says Dr. Stollman, who recommends any person considering remarriage take an "introspective look" into why their first marriage failed and "even consider therapy" to make sure those old wounds have truly healed.
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