Saying Yes to Round Two // A sensible look at second marriages

By Chayale Fried

Five years ago I said yes to a second chance at life, love and laughter by getting married again and blending our two families. I said yes to letting my guard down and opening my heart. I took a risk, and I’m glad I did. I have no regrets. The past five years have been the most incredible, joyous and blessed stage in my life.

But despite being truly grateful for my good fortune, it’s still hard for me to rejoice when others take the plunge. Some might accuse me of being anti-second marriage, and I can understand why. My first reaction upon hearing that someone has gotten engaged for the second time is to exclaim “Oh, G-d!” I worry for them. I think about all the stressors that are magnified the second time around: Kids, money, ex-spouses, physical space—and the list goes on.

Let me explain. Or better yet, I’ll start at the beginning.

My second husband Avrumi and I met eight plus years ago through a mutual friend and discovered that we were related and our fathers had been close friends. Despite feeling a connection, neither of us were really ready to get married again, and I was definitely still reeling from my first marriage and its aftermath. And my being a mother of teenagers was definitely part of the hesitation on both our sides.

After my brother passed away suddenly, Avrumi paid a shivah call, and it got both of us thinking and reevaluating. There’s nothing like death to remind us that we only live once. Or actually, that we only die once; we get to live every day. It also helped that teenager number three was engaged to be married, so Avrumi and I decided to give it a shot. Things were going really well until we hit a roadblock.

That was when I strongly suggested (or rather insisted) that we go for couples counseling before finalizing our wedding plans.

In the end, this minor bump in the road of our budding relationship ended up being the best thing that happened. Both of us had been around the block and experienced a thing or two in life. Meeting an incredible therapist and learning to understand each other’s triggers through emotionally focused therapy (EFT) was the ultimate empowerment.

Over the years, I had become really good at doing things myself. There was very little that fazed me and I could figure out almost anything, including sending boys to yeshivah in Israel and walking them through engagement and marriage. I could even climb up on the roof after Hurricane Sandy to replace the skylight that had been blown off by the wind. I had a supportive group of friends who helped, listened and encouraged me. I wasn’t sure if I knew how to do life together with someone who was an equal, who didn’t need me to take care of him and would do anything in the world for me. It was certainly a challenge to learn how to do that. There’s definitely been a learning curve. I have had to do a whole lot of growing and stretching in many ways.

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