Experiencing Second Divorce Shame? Keep These 4 Things in Mind

second divorce shame

By Patricia Van Haren, Divorce Attorney, Founder, The Law Office of Patricia C. Van Haren

Divorce is hard. Anyone who has ever gone through one will tell you that. But what happens when you get divorced, fall in love again, and then find yourself going through another divorce? Many clients tell me that second divorce is just as hard as a first divorce, mainly because they are experiencing second divorce shame.

What is second divorce shame?

It can mean many things, and each divorce situation is unique, but second divorce shame can include feelings like embarrassment, a sense of failure, and frustration and disappointment that you thought you got it right this time, only to realize you were wrong. Again.

If you are feeling second divorce shame, the first thing I want to tell you is to stop. Did you know that when it comes to second marriages, the divorce rate is even higher than first marriages? That means you are not alone in your second divorce.

Here are 4 things to keep in mind when dealing with second divorce shame, and second divorce, in general :


1. The divorce process can be more complicated than your first divorce.

While some things from a second marriage might be simpler in a second divorce, such as no shared children, there are a few things that might feel more complicated. First, there are the emotional complexities. Divorce is never easy, but it’s even harder when it’s not your first rodeo. You’re already grieving the loss of your first marriage, and now you have to go through the process again. Many people question how they ended up with the same personality type that they married previously. I have had many clients tell me that the married the same man twice, they just had a different face and name.  Use this time to look at the patterns that you are developing and learn how to identify personalities that are not compatible with yours.

Secondly, if you have children from this marriage as well as  your first marriage, you’ll have to figure out custody and visitation all over again. Then there are the financial complexities. You might have more money and more assets than you did when you got divorced the first time, but you might also have less. Either way, getting divorced means splitting up assets and figuring out child support and possibly maintenance.


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If you’re facing a second divorce, it’s important to be prepared for all the complexities. Have a solid support system in place, meaning friends and family, a good therapist, and a trusted divorce attorney.

2. You may feel judged by family and friends and the pressure of the social stigma of getting a second divorce may cause anxiety.

You may feel like you’re alone in your second divorce, but you’re not. Try not to  let the stigma define you and stay away from toxic friendships—people who make you feel badly about yourself. Try to keep your eye on the prize—getting out of a relationship that isn’t healthy for you. In other words, the divorce won’t take very long in the scheme of things, and after it’s over, you get another chance to be happy and healthy again. In regards to family members or friends who you feel are being judgmental, give them time to process what’s going on, and try not to judge them for judging! And, don’t assume they are judging. They might just not know what to say.

Join a support group or spend time with friends who are supportive. Also, consider hiring a Divorce Coach and/or a therapist to guide you through the Divorce Process. They can assist you in dealing with the emotional impact so that you are able to make sound legal decisions when you are working with your attorney or mediator. They will also be a great source of support to deal with second divorce shame.



3. Make a plan for how you will financially survive after your divorce.

Many couples entering into a second marraige have a premarital agreement, also known as a “prenup.” If you had a premarital agreement, it may be easier to see what you brought into the marriage.  The premarital agreement may also have waivers of Spousal Support which will eliminate that as being an issue in the Divorce.

If you did not have a premarital agreement, you will want to go back and see what you owned prior to this marriage.  One starting point may be to look at your Judgment from your first divorce and see which assets and debts you were awarded in your previous divorce.  With this you may be able to trace what you had in place at the time of your second marriage.

4. Your relationship with your children or stepchildren may change and you may have to deal with different custody arrangements.

If you have step-children and children who have established relationships with one another, they may be upset that you and the step parent are now divorcing. They have become accustomed to having a new larger family.  Additionally in California, step parents do not have a right to custody or visitation over step children therefore unless you and your spouse end the relationship on good terms, you will not be able to continue the relationship with your stepchildren and your children and stepchildren may not be able to continue their relationship.

Any children that you have together will likely want to spend time with both sets of their siblings, your children and your spouses’ children.  If the two of you are able to work together for the children, it will be much easier for you and your spouse to continue to maintain a relationship with each other’s children.


Last words on second divorce shame…

You are not alone, you will get through this and you will be ok!

When you get a second divorce, there’s no need to feel alone. There are countless men and women who have gone through the same thing as you and managed not only survive but thrive in their difficult situation.

It’s important to take the time to mourn the loss of your marriage, even if you were the one who wanted the divorce. It’s a big change, and it’s okay to grieve. Try not to rush into a new relationship, and instead, take the time to figure out what you want, what makes you happy, and who makes you feel good about yourself. Be patient and remember that divorce is a process that takes time. In second divorce, it’s important to remember that you’re not a failure. In fact, you are just the opposite.

Leaving a toxic situation, as scary as it may be, will lead you to being in a much more successful relationship, and more importantly, a more successful life because if you think about it, being successful equates to being happy. Instead of feeling second divorce shame, remember to love yourself enough to realize that you deserve to be successful and happy.

Like this article? Check out, “Regretting a Breakup? Advice for Second Thoughts and Doubts”

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