By Sophie King
DO accept that both of you will have baggage. It’s unrealistic for you to expect your new partner to have had a blemish-free past. Yes, of course, you might each feel jealous of previous attachments. But would you really want to get together with someone who hadn’t had a serious relationship? After all, we’re grown up now. And hopefully, we’ve all learned from our experiences.
DON’T assume that baggage is just emotional. It’s also the pots and pans and all the other stuff that arrives when two grown-up people move in together. As I write this, I am glancing at the most hideous collection of mugs which my newish husband insists on placing in the dining room on full display. Some are quite funny (like the wolf in sheep’s clothing that a previous girlfriend gave him) and others are hideous (like yellow and orange octopus). Don’t blame me if I accidentally break its handle while dusting…
DO take the phrase ‘Set in his or her ways’ seriously. All second-time rounders have had time to develop their own methods of doing things their way. My newish husband insists on drying everything after the dishwasher has finished (even though it’s been through the drying cycle). I like to leave the lights on throughout the house, regardless of electricity bills, because I don’t like the dark. After six and a half years, we still don’t see eye to eye on either of those points…
DO create new traditions. It’s a great way of moving forward and helping the two of you to become a new unit, regardless of the pain you might have gone through in the past. My newish husband and I started a tradition of doing the crossword every day. This might sound boring. In fact, we began it because I wanted to broaden my general knowledge. But it’s great fun – especially on the rare occasions when I manage to get a clue that he can’t!
DON’T stop remembering what brought you together in the first place. One of the things that attracted me to my newish husband was that he made me laugh. Now, if we find ourselves being slightly tetchy with each other (it doesn’t happen often), I’ll tickle him. It always works!
DO enlarge the family unit. I already have three lovely children but soon after I got married, we became incredibly broody. So we have Jack: a wonderful springer lab who is everyone’s baby. He knits us all together.
DON’T expect everyone to be happy for you. Friends and family can react in unexpected ways. Some people will be pleased you’re getting married again – and others won’t. It’s not easy for children, either. Try to include them as much as possible, both in the ceremony and post-married life. If you’ve chosen the right partner, he/she will love them too. My newish husband knows that I will drop anything for my children.
DON’T expect everything to be perfect from day one. There are lots of adjustments to be made with a second marriage. Make allowances for each other. Ask yourself if you’re being fair. (Maybe I won’t break that octopus mug after all.) Difficult phases usually pass. The trick is to get through them without too many hasty words which you then regret.
DO take time out to be together. I’m not very good at this because a writer is always writing! But I do stop to dance around the kitchen with my newish husband. We also walk regularly; snuggle up on the sofa in the evening; and play Scrabble. It might not sound wild (!) but it suits us.
DO learn from others. When one of my friends got married for the second time (after a very traumatic few years), she moved us to tears by saying that all she wanted was a ‘quiet life’. Quiet can, indeed, be good.
DON’T assume that you both see marriage in the same way. Discuss ‘rules’ before you walk down the aisle or venture into the registry office. Infidelity, in our book, is a definite no no but not all couples think the same. Talk about money too. You’re both grown up. You’ve both got bank accounts. How are you going to divide the bills and other outgoings? Better to talk about it now rather than later. Discuss wills, especially if you have children.
DO give each other a cuddle or kiss before turning out the lights. Mind you, my husband was used to going to bed much later than me. He’s now brought his bedtime forward by an hour and I’ve put mine back. It’s called compromise. When you get to second-time round, it’s crucial…
Sophie King is the author of six novels and a short story collection about families, friends and lovers. Her first novel, The School Run, was a bestseller when first published in 2005, and it was a bestseller for the second time when republished by Corazon Books in 2012. Sophie‘s latest novel, ‘Do You Take This Man?’ is now available.