Marriage after divorce: How do you take the leap?

For many, the thought of remarrying after divorce stirs mixed feelings. They wonder if they are making the right decision and whether ghosts of their failed marriage won’t haunt them.

Though Marie-Louise Murekatete’s first marriage wasn’t as peachy as she’d hoped it would be, she is not entirely against the idea of remarrying.

When she looks back at her short-lived marriage, she admits to having regrets, and this is why the thought of getting married again sometimes overwhelms her. This, however, will not stop her from moving on with her life, she says.

Murekatete believes that life after a divorce is a walkable path, but with bumps of course. She adds that some bit of reflection can help with self-awareness, something she says helped her pick up the pieces when she got divorced two years ago.

It is possible to find love again after a divorce. / Net photo

For many, the thought of remarrying after divorce stirs mixed feelings. They wonder if they are making the right decision and whether ghosts of their failed marriage won’t haunt them.

Writer Jackie Pilossoph notes that getting remarried can be scary and unappealing to many divorced people—understandably so, since their married lives were probably no walk in the park in the first place.

There are some who enjoyed being married but felt they had chosen the wrong person. Every situation is unique, but for most, remarriage isn’t an easy decision, Pilossoph notes.

“The best thing about a second marriage is that if you enjoyed your first marriage, this is your chance for a do-over. It’s an opportunity to get it right this time, to have fun living life with someone and to experience a partnership that includes respect, friendship, appreciation and adoration. In other words, your second marriage could end up being to the love of your life,” she writes.

Divorce not only harms the people getting divorced, but their children, close friends, families, or anyone else who cares about the divorcing couple. / Net photo

Murekatete agrees with Pilossoph stressing that one should also consider taking all the time they need for them to be able to completely move on.

As a mother of two, Murekatete says that when kids are involved, moving on can be a bit complicated, hence, suggesting that all parties need to make peace with the break up.

“This also depends on the negotiation with your new and ex-partner, but the kids too should be involved 100 per cent in the discussion,” she says.

Henry Kato Musasi is a married man and father-of-one. He believes that remarrying after divorce depends on the person’s desire, the person you meet after the failed marriage, and the commitment you are willing to give to the new relationship.

Why do some people fail to move on?

Moses Tumwine says that most people go on to lead shattered lives not because of divorce effects but because of the damage caused to them during the time they spent in marriage.

“At times marriage takes away people’s freedom. You live an answerable life; this becomes a barricade for one to live their life,” he says.

And Borah Mutangana believes that people fail to move on because of the generalisation society has around second marriages that pushes many to believe that once they get divorced, it will be the same story with any subsequent marriage.

“People fail to move on because they confine themselves with fear of making similar mistakes and this impedes them from committing to other people,” she says.

Handling life after divorce

Jean-Pierre Ndagijimana, a psychologist and stress management coach, says although short term stress is a normal part of life, chronic stress that can happen during the process of divorce can impact the health of ex-spouses.

This, he says, happens because dealing with past marital disappointments, resentments, and current societal pressures, combined with the worry about what has happened in the past and nervousness of what might happen in the future, is inarguably stressful.

This not only harms the people getting divorced but their children, close friends, families, or anyone else who cares about the divorcing couple. Missing the ex-spouse, struggling financially, having to respond to gossip can make the divorced couple feel defeated, Ndagijimana says.

“While the effects of divorce are in some ways universal, some factors increase the stress response for divorced couples. For instance, the cultural and religious beliefs that condemn people who get divorced can be weighty and detrimental to the ex-spouses,” he says.

Additionally, the psychologist says that hardships that can result from lack of productivity during marital stress and divorce can produce financial stressors which can deprive them of the resources necessary to efficiently cope with the separation.

“People experiencing strain from divorce use different coping strategies to help regulate their stress response. However, some strategies for stress regulation can do more harm than good. This can happen with alcohol (drugs) when it is used to numb nervous thoughts when trying to fall asleep at night or deal with intense emotions and feelings of anger and sadness.”

Ndagijimana says because no one feels good being asked about his/her failed marriage repeatedly, some isolate from their communities and social support.

They may avoid going to weddings or other social gatherings. Unfortunately, social isolation can deprive the divorced couple of accessing useful community resources that could potentially help them buffer the strain from divorce, he adds.

“Anger that results from resentment can make ex-spouses more vulnerable, for instance, some parents try to brainwash their children, telling them that the other parent is evil, and they should not trust him/her. Others invest in tarnishing their ex-spouses by shaming them with lies or exposing secrets that should not be shared to the public.”

On the extreme, Ndagijimana notes that some divorced people lose their minds and stop taking care of themselves. This, he says, may attract unhelpful attention from the critics within their communities.

He is, however, quick to add that there is no one sure way of regulating the complexity that divorce comes with.

Fundamentally, ex-spouses must be mindful about the ways they respond to stressors associated with the legal dissolution of their marriage. This is easier said than done. However, it is important for ex-couples to break their isolation, to reach out to their families and communities for support, he says.

“There can be a new life after divorce, this is why it is important to practice possible strategies that can help in transforming,” he adds.

“Professional counsellors and psychologists can also help, especially when ex-spouses wish to maintain confidential communication and benefit from some professional support in life after divorce.”

Counsellor Kibogora Nsoro shares his opinion saying that life after divorce can be devastating for both men and women, especially if there are children involved.

Men, at times, are less prone to depression than women in cases like this because in most African cultures, men easily remarry after divorce than women, he explains.

As a counsellor, he believes that solving issues that result in post-divorce requires understanding the root cause of the problem, hence, apply holistic approaches.

He also recommends that victims speak about the problems they are facing to trained professionals and those who cannot afford such services can instead seek professional advice from social support groups, trusted friends and family.


HOW CAN ONE COPE AFTER A DIVORCE?

It depends on how and why it ended in the first place, if you have children together or not, but in general, I think you should cut all contacts and let time do its magic.

It is very hard in this social media era so try to make it as less public as possible and only listen to yourself and follow no advice from friends.

If necessary, seek professional help if the divorce was a traumatic one but mainly take care of yourself and don’t rush into another relationship.

Herve Kimenyi, Comedian

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When you are in the middle of the divorce process, it is hard to imagine a life after, especially one that is full and rewarding.

Amazingly, you will get past all the legal, financial and emotional aspects of divorce and things eventually get better.

As hard as it might be to look forward with hope after divorce, doing so will help you cope with the stress.

Ismail Itinywe, Designer

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I would advise that divorced couples take time to heal from the wounds of their past marriages.

This calls for taking enough time before dating again or even considering the thought of getting married again.

Doreen Kakuru, Cashier

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Living life after a divorce can be somewhat challenging but the best way to handle this is to think of the divorce as the next chapter of your life.

This will call for a lot of courage however.

Aisha Kobusingye, Businesswoman

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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