The Second Marriage

Oh, goodness. She's getting ready to walk down that aisle for the second (or third) time, and you're just up in arms over the whole thing. As far as you can tell, she didn't learn anything from her first marriage (which she now refers to as “that one big mistake”). You fear she's jumping into a new life with someone else without even taking stock of what went awry the first time around. What's a dad to do?

ESSENTIAL

If there's something obviously wrong in her relationship (physical abuse, substance abuse) then you do have an obligation to speak up. Otherwise, you may just have to trust that she knows what she's getting into this time around.

You can't protect her from everything, unfortunately, and if she's made up her mind, chances are she's going to end up as this guy's Mrs. Still, there's no harm in trying to point out some very obvious flaws in her reasoning…if you know how to do it.

Look at Yourself First

If you're divorced, you know the pain and hard feelings that surround the decision — not just from your former spouse, but very possibly from her friends and family as well. Maybe you're so scarred from your own experience that you just can't fathom how — or why — anyone could put themselves in the position to be hurt so badly again (not to mention the cost of going through the ordeal).

However, you simply can't judge your daughter's choice to remarry based on your own trauma. She went through a tough time, to be sure, but if she's found someone to share her life with and she's happy, you've got to let your own fears and attitudes concerning marriage fall by the wayside (as far as her relationship is concerned, anyway). People do make mistakes, and sometimes, they even learn from their errors. And sometimes, they're able to rise above it all and move on. That's what she's doing.

He's the Same Guy

Huh. So she divorced her first husband because she couldn't stand the guy, and now she's marrying someone who is so similar you suspect they might be long-lost twin brothers. That's a real pickle for you to be in, isn't it? What do you say to a daughter who is entering into the same exact marriage that she couldn't wait to get out of? Do you have to give your blessing? What if you really like him, but you know that she's going to be packing her bags six months after the ceremony?

For starters, you're never obligated to give your blessing to a union that you don't approve of — regardless of how you feel about the groom. Still, if you feel that she's making the same exact mistake she made the first time, yes, you can address the issue with her.

ALERT!

Be aware that withholding your best wishes may cause real trouble in your relationship with your daughter and carries with it the very real possibility that she'll go ahead and marry him anyway, which will leave you in the doghouse for years to come.

Watch how you phrase your concerns when you bring the matter up for discussion. There's a difference between telling her she's not so bright and she's going to have another failed marriage within a year and simply saying, “Honey, I think we need to talk. Don't you think Ron [the new beau] is an awful lot like Don [the first husband]? Maybe you can tell me what you see in Ron that you didn't see in Don and why this marriage is going to last.”

Might she find fault with the latter approach as well? Sure. She's a bride, after all, and probably given to mood swings and overall anxiety. She may even use the time-honored defense, “It's my life!” Just remember: You're really, genuinely concerned and trying to help. Even if she flies off the handle and tells you it's none of your business, you'll know that you attempted to get the discussion going. Beyond that, it's up to her.

Hey, It's Your Money!

You shelled out some pretty big bucks for the first wedding, and now that she's come home to introduce you to her next husband, she seems to be assuming that you're only too happy to go through the whole check-writing process all over again. Except you aren't.

Hey, you're right — it is your money, and if you're not willing (or able at this point) to pay for another big wedding, say so right away. The one thing you'll want to keep to yourself is this opinion (or any variation of it): “I just spent $20,000 on a wedding that was a complete waste! You still haven't finished opening your wedding gifts, and you want me to pay for another wedding?!”

Um…no, Dad. That kind of ranting isn't going to win you any fans. Bluntness like that will earn you the Incredibly Insensitive Father label, which will follow you for…well, decades. It's the stuff that family legends are born of. If you're feeling a little concerned about how free your daughter seems to be with your money when it comes to weddings, find a better (calmer) way to say it.

FACT

You're not obligated to pay for another grand wedding. If you feel that strongly about it, you don't have to give her one single penny to pay for her second wedding — but again, keep in mind, this could affect your relationship with your daughter for a long, long time.

If you're able to give her a little something to put toward her wedding, you may want to mull it over. A flat out refusal to assist financially (when she knows you're using your moneybags as pillows) constitutes a complete disapproval of the union. Maybe your intention is to send that very message; that's your choice, and you already know the risks involved here. If, on the other hand, you simply want her to realize the value of a buck by forcing her to pay for a wedding that she can afford, that's a whole other conversation.

Your Image

She's getting married again, and you're red-faced. What is she doing with her life, you wonder? Her first husband seemed like a good guy to you, but she claimed she was unhappy. Now she's been looking around, trying to find a situation that's perfect for her, and she claims this new guy is The One. For sure.

You, quite frankly, are a little embarrassed. How did you raise such a flighty kid? What will everyone think when they get the invitation to your capricious daughter's second wedding?

You know what? You need to forget about everyone else. You can't live your life worrying about what other people will think, because you can't ever make everyone happy, or impress everyone at the same time.

ESSENTIAL

As a dad, you're supposed to impart this wisdom to your own kids — and judging from your daughter's attempts to make her life better regardless of the opinions of the masses, you might just have succeeded in this matter.

If your daughter has just gotten divorced and she's sprinting to the altar with a guy she met in her divorce lawyer's office, you're right to be concerned. These issues are best dealt with by asking a professional for help — it could be that your daughter has self-esteem issues or that she simply isn't mature enough to realize the gravity of taking on a new marriage. If, on the other hand, she left her first marriage some time ago and she's not rushing into this new marriage, you're just going to have to give her credit for knowing what she wants. She is an adult, after all.

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