The divorce rate for second marriages is between 60 – 67 percent. That’s significantly higher than the rate for first marriages which is between 41-50 percent. Given the complexities of blending two families, I don’t find that surprising. What I do find surprising is that of people who do remarry, most of them wait just three and half years between their first and second marriages. That to me, seems like a short period of time in which to date, meet the ‘right’ person and then marry but then again I’m not known for sprinting.
By his own admission, my current guest, Kyle Bradford dated too soon after his divorce and he made mistakes that he regrets. After hitting his emotional winter, Kyle had a new approach to dating and ended up meeting “the Queen.” They are engaged to be married next year by which time they will have dated for over six years and Kyle will have been divorced for ten years. Here, Kyle talks about why he and the Queen are taking it slow:
When people ask, “Tell me about the Queen,” I say the exact same thing. She’s the only woman that I ever met that makes me want to be a better man.
I can’t think of anything better to say about a woman, at least a man’s prospective, than that.
We met five years ago in January and since that time, me and her, we look at our relationship as providential. There’s no way that it’s not and we always keep that in the back of our minds. We want our relationship to be a beacon for our divorced friends who are struggling or having problems with dating in their post-marriage life. We want our relationship to be a beacon of hope that you can find something that works, but it takes time and you’ve got to make certain sacrifices to do that.
We met at a restaurant. Some people might call it a bar. We were both “DDs” that night (designated drivers) and it was a rainy just god awful night. It was January 7, 2009. She was out with some of her friends. I was out with some of my friends, we were sitting around, just hanging out and watching television. I was drinking water. She was drinking water, I guess and she turned around and asked me the score of the football game. The rest is history.
There’s two things that I told her when I met her. I said one, “If you don’t like riding motorcycles tell me now, because it’s not going to work,” and two, “I go to church most Sundays. Where do you go?”
She happened to go to the same church I did. I go to a very large church, one of the largest in the country and it’s easy for two people to go there for years and never see each other. But we went to the same church. I’m not joking.
So we agreed to go on a date to church. It’s what I’d say “getting off on the right foot.”
We decided that we wanted to get married, because she’s got two kids of her own. One will be in college and one of them will be in high school and both of my kids will be in middle school. One will be in the eighth grade and one will be in the sixth grade. We wanted our kids to be a little bit older, particularly mine. I wanted my son to be in middle school. Blending a family is very difficult in general.
I’m convinced that most parents mess it up, because they rush into it too quickly and here’s what I mean. One of the things that me and the Queen decided on early on after we were dating for awhile and we knew that the relationship had significant staying power was that we wanted to treat our relationship as much like a marriage as we possibly could for the benefit of our children.
Now, that’s difficult to do when we don’t live together. The reason we don’t live together—it’s like this. She’s got a daughter, I’ve got a daughter. Let’s fast forward five years and let’s say that our daughter’s in college and our daughter calls me up and says, “Hey mom, dad listen, you know John, my boyfriend for four months, he wants me to move in with him. It’s going to be great.”
Now, obviously any person with half of a brain knows that’s a bad idea. Secondly, if I say “no” and yet I live with the Queen, how do I not look like a total hypocrite?
I call it the domino effect of parenting. We like to think that the things that we do as parents really don’t have an impact on our kids. It’s a lie. It’s just that they may not have an impact right now, they have it maybe five, 10 years later.
Our kids don’t have the mom and dad role model to emulate. Granted, my children have their mother and their stepfather, their relationship is not one that I would consider good, but that’s just my own personal opinion. That’s not the facts.
The Queen’s obviously not married, her ex-husband’s not married, so where are they going to have models for them of a strong healthy, respectful, honoring relationship, if it’s not between me and her?
It makes it difficult, because if it would have been us, we would have married several years ago, but we wanted to sacrifice that for the long-term betterment of our kids and our relationship. I’ll tell you now, no lie, if we would’ve gotten married, say three years ago, she would of probably killed me by this point, because blending four kids all in middle school or younger, is just like, it’s like herding cats. It’s almost impossible to do and you end up getting frustrated.
Blood is thicker than a marriage certificate and these couples think that, “We’ll just get together and love will fix everything.” No, love will not fix everything, because the first time that a parent has a conflict between their new spouse and their kid, which one are they going to go with?
They take sides—and that is a wedge that just got jammed right into that marriage. You put enough wedges into it, it’s going to break apart.
There’s so much that I appreciate about this segment.
- It’s about knowing yourself well enough to know your relationship deal-breakers and having the self-assurance to stick to them.
- It’s about recognizing that you are the most important dating role model for how your kids might approach their own romantic relationships. It’s like everything else about parenting, our kids observe more and take in more then we realize. This is an area where the “do as I do” model is definitely called for, not the old “do as I say, not what I do” model.
- It’s about recognizing that you are a parent, you are a parent 100 percent of the time (even with shared parenting time) and that you have to give weight and consideration to the impact that your romantic relationship will have on your parent-child relationships. The reality is that our children are in our care most typically only through high-school graduation so if blending a family would potentially harm your relationship with your child or be emotionally stressful for your child, a few years of waiting is not the end of the world. Your children are more important than dating.
My own personal belief is that with this approach, you’re building a solid foundation for a fulfilling, enduring second marriage and that’s win for everyone.
Kyle Bradford is a divorced father and founder of the website ChopperPapa, ‘High octane observations on manhood, divorce, relationships, fatherhood, and other intellectual roadkill’. He also hosts a monthly podcast, FatherhoodWideOpen, ‘Intelligent conversation on issues facing fatherhood and masculinity with the people who think and write on them.’ He lives, writes, and works in Atlanta, Georgia.
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