Yet many millions of people go on to extremely happy first (and even second) marriages and wildly satisfying new (and improved) relationships. (Note: Many of these people are graduates of my Never Again Program – where I share many tools to boost courage and vetting skills!)
In many ways love at second-marriage-sight can benefit from the experiences of the first, according to Susan Hendrick, professor of psychology and a researcher at Texas Tech.
“If two year olds can learn not to touch something,” says Hendrick, “adults can learn a certain direction in love is negative and thereby make better love choices next time around.”
It seems we make different kinds of love choices, too, according to Andy Cherlin, professor of sociology at Jon Hopkins.
“Partners in re-marriage differ much more in religion, education, and agethan those in first marriages,” says Cherlin. “Perhaps because as people grow older, they feel less bound by societal conventions and more in touch with their inner needs.”
In this ever changing love marketplace, Americans (savvy consumers that we are) can with practice learn to be better love shoppers, according to Barry Dym, psychologist and co-author with Michael Glenn of “Couples.”
“Love has entered the consumer age,” says Dym, “If a marriage doesn’t work, we learn to shop differently for love – and review our needs more carefully. As time passes we’re less afraid to ask detailed questions before bringing the love object home. Some of us may even discover there was nothing wrong with our past love objects — we just didn’t know how to use love properly. Eventually we learn to follow love’s directions a little more carefully so we can get the most out of it.”
Barbara De Angelis, author of “Real Moments For Lovers,” agrees. “We have to learn how to love like we learn to drive a car. We don’t expect to immediately sit down and drive unless we’ve been taught. We must learn how first. And the greatest education for how to love is being in a bad love relationship. It will show you your selfishness, your fears, your insecurities. There’s a reason a relationship didn’t work, and it’s not that love sucks, it’s that you still need to learn how to love properly.”A vast majority of us steer ourselves into disasterous heart-breaking, ego-smashing love accidents due to that blurry vision called love-at-first-sight.
Psychologists report that the number one reoccurring lesson their love troubled patients learn is to be wary of love at first sight – and instead cautiously look for love at 1,999, 991-st sight – a love with more emphasis on lasting rather than lusting love.
“Eventually we learn to get past lust blindness,” says De Angelis, “thinking we’re so attracted to each other, this must be love. We learn to be suspicious of strong sexual attraction — that we need something more, like common interests, goals, love styles. ”
Bob Emory, professor of psychology at University of Virginia explains, “The first time around many couples are concerned more with the wedding ceremony and notion of marriage. The second time they realize there’s something past the wedding day. They enter into the love union with…. I wouldn’t call it cynicism, but realism. The couple is realistic about being unhappy at times. We have this big myth relationships are all about love. Eventually we learn it’s more like a business partnership, sharing responsibilities, solving conflicts.”
David Olsen, psychologist and director of “Prepare/Enrich” agrees. “In subsequent marriages our expectations both increase and decrease,” says Olsen. “They increase because each partner is more aware of his/her needs, and decrease because they’re more realistic about potential problems.”
Even though our taste buds might get duller as we age, our ability to feel passion never dulls, according to Hendrick.
“Recent statistics coming out of sociological sex surveys indicate passion continues to go on — and on. In fact, research on married couples indicates passionate-sensual love is a good predictor of how satisfied couples will be. It’s just that looking for a companion becomes more of the basic central theme of love.”
Hendrick believes we can learn to achieve this ideal passionate-companion love model — not only because we’ve learned lessons and developed our love skills, but because we have extra motivation. “Quite simply,” Hendrick says, “We want at all costs to avoid another failure.”
Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.