We all know somebody like Bob. He's 32 years old now. Bob married Amber when he was 22 years old. He had just graduated college and he had lived with Amber during their senior year of college. After the marriage, they waited a few years and everything seemed wonderful, so they had two children who are now 7 and 5. Things started going bad after the first child was born but they just thought they were going through a rough patch.
After the second child, things got even worse. Amber was so busy with the babies that she never had time for Bob. She was too tired for sex when Bob made advances and soon he stopped trying. He wasn't unfaithful to her but started devoting himself to his work, spending more hours at the office and less time at home. Amber felt unappreciated for the job she did as a stay-at-home mom and she resented the fact that Bob got to have social interactions every day with people who didn't wear diapers.
They simply "grew apart" and became more like roommates than friends and lovers. When Bob's office had a weekend retreat, spouses were expected to join the group but Amber refused to leave the children with Bob's parents for a long weekend. This was the final straw for Bob and he divorced Amber.
Bob started dating immediately and soon met Cindy. She was a secretary in the office of one of the vendors which works with Bob's company. She is very pretty - just like Amber - and seems devoted to Bob. They talked about marriage and having children and they seemed to have the same goals. They got married after a whirlwind courtship and Cindy got pregnant within the first year of their marriage. Now that baby is here, things are not as rosey as they once were. The frequent, hot, steamy sex has become a once a week routine and Cindy seems to love being a mother more than she loves being a wife. Now, Bob is wondering if he made a mistake.
Yes, Bob made a big mistake! He married on the rebound. Don't judge Bob too harshly; many, many people make the same mistake. As an attorney who handles divorces, this is good for business . . . but I hate to see people make this mistake. I see otherwise intelligent people do this, the people who generally don't make really stupid mistakes.
Why do they do it? Obviously, no one says, "Well, I just got divorced, so let's see if I can do something really stupid!" No, this behavior is not driven by any conscious rational process; it is controlled by emotional motivations and brought to fruition by subconscious behavior.
One of the hallmarks of almost all divorces is blame. "Someone else hurt me and this is their fault!" All of our family and friends help to reinforce this idea. "I can't believe she did this to you. That little bitch!" they say. How many friends say to you, "So, what role did you have in the problems?" Answer: none of your friends ask you this because they want to be sympathetic and supportive.
Of course, when a marriage falls apart, it is usually the result of two people both contributing problems and neither contributing solutions. But "blame" and "fault" shift the focus away from mutual responsibility.
When we come out of a divorce, we have some lingering doubts about what happened. We may not express those doubts to our family and friends, but we question ourselves and we wonder what others might be thinking. There is also an element of "revenge" present at times; "I'll show her that it was all her fault."
What is the best way to prove that it wasn't our fault? It's simple: get into another relationship and show that we can make it work. So, without pausing to learn any lessons from our recent failure, we get into another relationship. That is particularly unfortunate, because quite often, one of the lessons that we need to learn involves how we go about choosing our partners. Without the benefit of any new insights, we tend to choose our next partner in the same manner, and according to the same criteria, as we chose our last partner.
Our choice tends to be someone who is remarkably similar to our last choice and that means that we will probably encounter the same problems that we had in the first marriage. Unfortunately, the ultimate outcome is usually the same, although the second marriage probably won't last as long as the first marriage.
Learning our lessons is not as simple as studying for a test or memorizing the state capitals. It takes periods of introspection, some tears, and brutal honesty to accept some responsibility for our failure. This can take months or even a year or longer. And some people never learn their lessons!
I advise all of my divorce clients to follow a simple rule: you should not consider marriage for a full two years following a divorce. It is fine to date, even to date exclusively and monogamously, but you should advise your partner that you need two years before that that subject can be considered.
What happens if my client doesn't follow this excellent advice? I threaten them. If I hear that they have violated this rule, I promise that a friend and I will kidnap them and drag them out into the woods, tie their face to a goat's ass, and beat the hell out of them. The threat is made facetiously, of course, and they laugh . . . but they get the point of what I am saying.
Why do I bother with this? Certainly, it is outside the realm of legal advice. I "bother" because I don't want them to make the same mistake that I made ten years ago . . . and I don't want you to make that same mistake, either.