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How to have a happy second marriage – advice for Jen Aniston and the rest of us

aniston theroux.jpg

This combo made from Feb. 16, 2012 file photos shows Justin Theroux, left, and Jennifer Aniston. Aniston's rep, Stephen Huvane, on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012 confirmed to The Associated Press that Theroux and the actress are engaged. It was first reported by People.com. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

Emmy-winning actress Jennifer Aniston is creating nuptial news with her engagement to boyfriend of 15 months, Justin Theroux.  This is her second attempt at marriage after a much-publicized divorce from Brad Pitt nearly seven years ago and a string of high profile relationships with famous faces that left America’s sweetheart seemingly broken hearted.  

So what are Jen’s chances for success on the second go around? What are anyone’s chances when it comes to remarriage? It’s no secret that second marriages fail more than first marriages. In fact, most reports indicate that two out of three second marriages fail.

You’d think that divorce would lead to greater wisdom in avoiding future pitfalls.  But that’s not the case. That’s why we thought it might be a good opportunity to offer a few of the wrong reasons, based on research, for getting re-married.

After all, ask most people why they are getting married – for the first or the second time – and the answer is nearly reflexive: “Because we are in love.” But if you scratch the surface you’ll find that the motivations for matrimony are far more complex. In fact, some reasons for marrying improve your chances of success while others work against it – especially when it comes to marrying for the second time. 

To love and be loved by another person is perhaps the single most satisfying experience on earth. Many of the benefits of companionship can be enjoyed without marriage, of course, but marriage provides the social structure for experiencing it most deeply.

- Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Here are the four worst reasons people remarry:

1. Love at first sight. 

While love at first sight seems like a romantic reason for marriage, but it’s not a good predictor of marital success. This is especially true for a second marriage that is supposed to be “magically” different from the first.  Not that strong feelings of attraction cannot occur early in a relationship. They do. But such feelings alone provide a weak foundation for a long-lasting relationship.  

2. Getting together on the rebound

Rebounding is also an unlikely predictor of longevity in marriage. It’s a proven fact that people tend to fall in love more easily when they have recently been rejected by someone they once loved. Researchers have long known that people suffer low self-esteem after a divorce and are far less discriminating in choosing a partner as they are trying to cope with their loss.   

3. Rebellion 

Rebellion leads some into a re-marital mismatch. Getting even with an ex-spouse, for example, by marrying someone the ex knowingly does not like is not uncommon, but it’s always costly.

The truth is the interference of a former spouse can increase feelings of romantic attraction between partners. It gives the new couple a common enemy. As with marriage on the rebound, however, the wedding is a response to someone else rather than to one’s partner.

4. Loneliness 

Sometimes loneliness can drive a person into a hasty marriage. This is especially true among the divorced and widowed. The problem with this motivation is that lonely people will end up lonely in marriage if the relationship doesn’t have much more to stand on.  In other words, it is the relationship rather than the institution that banishes loneliness.

There you have it, a four good reasons not to get married again. Each represents what researchers call a “deficit marriage.” 

After reading this list, you may feel like there’s nearly no good reason to get married.  It’s not true. The key is to marry out of a motivation for genuine companionship.  To love and be loved by another person is perhaps the single most satisfying experience on earth. Many of the benefits of companionship can be enjoyed without marriage, of course, but marriage provides the social structure for experiencing it most deeply. 

It provides a covenant whereby two people pledge to love each other in good times and bad, in sickness and in health -- to have and to hold as companions unto death. If you’re considering a second marriage, our hope is that you and your partner are getting remarried for all the right reasons.

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott  are #1 New York Times best-selling authors and founders of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University.  Their primary passion, Marriage Mentoring, spans 20 years and has been featured on "Oprah,"  "The View" and Fox News Channel. Les Parrott's latest book is "You're Stronger Than You Think: The Power to Do What You Feel You Can't" (Tyndale House Publishers, August 2012).