Second Time Around Marriages
By: Denise Schipani
Read the real stories behind couples who divorced and remarried each other again
Linda Thornton, JD, author of 20 Things to Know About Divorce, describes her marriage this way: “We were together for 30 years, not including that break when we were divorced.” She’s not trying to be cute or facetious: Once she and her husband got back together (infidelity broke them up), “we were so solid and inseparable; it was as though that time apart didn’t matter.” Sadly, Thornton’s husband passed away in 2009, but she’s not the only woman who has walked down the aisle with her ex-husband. Below, meet four other once-divorced, now-remarried couples and discover what they learned about making a marriage work—and what you can learn, too.
Suzann and Clinton Sines, Gaines, Michigan
In 1995, Suzann and Clinton Sines were 20- and 19-year-old newlyweds against the world. Well, against their families’ approval, anyway. “We were very immature, and part of the decision to get married was because my mother was against it,” explains Suzann. In eight years of marriage, they had two children and several trial separations before divorcing in 2001. Suzann ended up moving to another town while their two boys stayed with their father, but the couple maintained communication in order to properly parent their children. “He never gave up on me,” says Suzann, and after a few years, when she’d moved back to be closer to her kids, “he told me he still loved me.” By 2005, they’d agreed to remarry, with their sons, then 5 and 8, serving as witnesses.
Why it worked the second time around: “I used to point out his faults, but now I look inside and acknowledge my own first,” says Suzann. Working on your marriage should be top priority, but don’t ignore working on your own issues, too, seconds Paula Bisacre, founder of the remarriage-education resource RemarriageWorks.com. “If you’ve worked on self-growth and self-development while apart, you’ll be in a better place when you get back together.”
Rebecca and Greg Ford, Honolulu, Hawaii
On Valentine’s Day in 1998, Rebecca and Greg Ford married—after knowing each other only about a year. “We met online, and lived in different parts of the country, but we wanted to be together.” Their issues turned out not to be about love, but communication and unrealistic expectations. Their 2000 divorce wasn’t acrimonious, but it was painful enough that Rebecca felt she couldn’t remain friends. “I still loved him.” So when, a year or so later, Greg knocked on her door out of the blue (she had moved to Washington state and he, a military man, was stationed in Tennessee) to say that they’d made a big mistake and he wanted to try again, she went for it. “We both knew, deep down, that it was right.” They remarried in 2002.
Why it worked the second time around: “We got counseling and learned how to communicate before problems get too bad,” says Rebecca. “Now, we realize that we could have done all this work on our relationship without going through the divorce process.” When you remarry someone, you know their ins and outs as well as your relationship patterns. “You know why you left—but you also know why you loved that person to begin with,” says Thornton. So when you get back together, you can work together to emphasize the good parts and avoid the bad habits. Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Ford
Celeste Simmons-Bacon and Alan Bacon, Kennesaw, Georgia
In 1997, Celeste Simmons and Alan Bacon got married for the most common of reasons: They were in love. During their first six years of marriage, they had two children together—and Alan had an affair. “He left me for the other woman when our younger child was an infant—and the most devastating thing was finding out that the affair began when I was pregnant,” says Celeste. After the divorce, her life bottomed out: She lost her house, moved in with her parents, suffered from depression. Slowly, though, she put things back together and, after a year or so, she was involved with someone else. Meanwhile, Alan’s relationship didn’t last, and he moved to be nearer to his children. “We talked because of the kids, but also because we both wanted to heal the hurt feelings.” It took a couple of years, but soon the pair was talking about trying again, and made a decision to move in together. “It was a mistake right then,” says Celeste. “We still hadn’t really forgiven each other, and I still didn’t trust him.” That reconciliation lasted six months. Another half-year later, they tried again—and this time, sought counseling from their minister. In 2005, two years post-divorce, they remarried.
Why it worked the second time around: “We can finally talk about everything without tears or bitterness,” says Celeste, adding that she’s able to stand on her own two feet. “I’m much smarter now, about money, about what it takes to keep us going, about everything.” Marriage education is key, says Bisacre. Even more so than in a first marriage, “go into your second with your eyes wide open.” It’s also valuable, she says, to find a second-marriage support group. “You can learn from others who’ve been there, and also be inspired.”
Leah and Larry Mazur, Panama City, Florida
Leah and Larry married for the first time in 2004, after dating for several years and having a daughter. However, Leah knew the whole time that her husband had a drug problem that he wouldn’t admit to. “He insisted he could handle it, that it was just recreational,” says Leah. But then, after she got pregnant with their son, “it went way downhill.” After leaving the children alone with him only to find out he was using drugs while they were in the house, she made the painful decision to take the kids from their home in Texas and move to Florida, where her mother could help her. Over the next couple of years, they saw each other a few times a year, when he’d visit the children, and they’d fight. “He blamed me for taking the kids away; I blamed him for the drug use ruining everything.” In 2008, Larry hit rock bottom. After he lost his job and house, his one remaining sympathetic sibling took him in and, finally, he kicked his addiction and turned his life around. “When he visited at Christmas that year, I could see the change in him. He was apologetic for all that he had done, and we didn’t fight.” Meanwhile, Leah had joined a new church and found the Bible verse “Love is patient, love is kind…” really resonated with her. “I felt like God was talking to me, saying that I’d given up on my husband. I decided to give him another shot.” But there were conditions: Larry had to move to Florida, join her church and there would be no sex unless or until they got married—which they eventually did in December 2009.
Why it worked the second time around: One word: therapy. “Even without the drugs, there were still problems we had to work through—I had major trouble trusting him, for example. Therapy, which we found through our pastor, helped us realize we could make it.” Thornton adds, “Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and if you lost it the first time around [through an affair or a drug problem], you have to work to rebuild it.”