I’ve watched my sister navigate the turbulent waters of a broken marriage and divorce, and struggle to set a new course for her life. Starting a new relationship, with step-children and ex’s in the mix, hasn’t been plain sailing, but this month she and her husband celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary and the contentment and joy are clearly evident in their lives. As challenging as a second marriage can be, it can also be a true blessing.
Preparing for a successful second marriage is the topic of Dale and Susan Mathis’ new book, “The Re-Marriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness” (Focus on the Family). Considering that almost 3 out of 4 second marriages fail, it’s clear that this book fills a significant need in guiding couples as they start their marriage journey.
Addressing their motivation for writing the book, Susan says: “When you’re a second-marriage couple, there’s so much more to think about besides the wedding. It’s all the other stuff that matters so much—the daily-living-together and blending-a-family stuff. Knowing how to work through the challenges of a second marriage and the intricacies of blending a family—before you get in the heat of it—will help you be more successful than you could ever be without it.”
The strength of the book, I believe, is that it is written from Dale and Susan’s own experience as a second marriage couple. They have also drawn from—and share—the experiences of other couples, giving you the sense that you are being invited into a circle of friends for a close conversation. Although the book addresses serious topics, it does so with a simple clarity that makes it easy to read. But—be warned—you’ll do more than merely read. Every chapter ends with a time of self-appraisal and discussion, and this is where, I imagine, the real growth happens for couples. It’s not all serious though; there are also lighter questions to induce fun and laughter.
A theme that runs through the book is that of redemption. Although the word is familiar, I had never thought of it in terms of relationships, and so I asked Susan to explain what it has to do with a second marriage:
“Having tasted the pain of love lost, none of us want to experience that kind of pain again. Yet we can love again, in a truly redemptive way, through God’s help. Godly love can buy back your past and deliver you from your broken dreams, your heartaches, your mistakes and sins, and your fears and your pain. He can restore your joy and hope, and transform you to healthy, holy individuals if you allow Him to work in your life and in your marriage relations Sometimes we will fall short. We won’t always love perfectly, and besides, redemption is a lifetime journey. But as long as you’re pressing on to love as much as you are able, you are showing redeeming love. If you understand this, you’ll give each other space to make mistakes and then grace to move on.”
A significant aspect of ‘The Re-marriage Adventure’ is the emphasis on bringing children into this redemptive experience too. Every chapter has a “Blending with Kids” section that addresses issues related to helping children on their journey of healing and wholeness in a Blended Family. To quote from the book: “As (children) see God work in your lives, walk through the process of grieving, and move into a place of healthy living, they will learn that you serve a big God who heals and transforms lives.”
If I was about to embark on a second marriage, or was already in one, but struggling to work through some of the challenges, this is the book that I would choose to read. Not only is it full of wise counsel and insight, but Dale and Susan’s heart-felt purpose of helping couples succeed in their marriage, comes across in every page. “Marriage is the foundation of the family, and your family can only be as strong and healthy as your relationship as a couple. Our prayer is that we’ll help to build strong marriages that will become the foundation for thriving and redemptive blending families.”
The Re-Marriage Adventure is available at Amazon and other outlets. Dale and Susan are also the authors of “Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage.”