When we were dating, Dale and I drove to Estes Park, Colo., to get away. As we sat looking at the beautiful mountains, we asked each other all sorts of questions. We discussed the possibility of our future together. Dale and I had both been single for more than a decade. We'd been deeply hurt by our earlier failed relationships, so we worried we might not be successful in a second marriage. We promised to reveal our thoughts, fears, goals and needs to each other.
Although we had tried to learn all we could about love and God's vision for marriage, being completely candid made us feel vulnerable. But we realized that this kind of openness was critical to our budding relationship. Without complete honesty, we'd marry a person we didn't really know.
So, for several weeks after our time in the mountains, we made long lists of things we wanted to know about each other — how we were raised, finances, expectations, pet peeves, sex and health issues, our previous marriages, our children, our relationship with God. Each question prompted 20 others, and some of the questions were serious, deep and scary. We asked lots of fun, crazy and goofy questions, too.
The point was to be transparent and learn about each other in every way. And we were careful that we didn't go into this hoping to change each other because we knew we would've been greatly disappointed.
Some of the questions we asked each other were:
- How often do you expect to visit extended family?
- How can we divide the daily chores if we blend our family?
- How have you managed disagreements in the past?
- How can I build relationships with your family members?
- How much TV do you regularly watch?
- What is one skill you wish your child had?
As we strove to grow and become more transparent, our relationship deepened, and we gained the confidence we needed for the adventure of remarriage.
Any couple thinking about remarriage should make time to know each other better, to learn how compatible they are and to find ways to make their second marriage a success.Susan Mathis is the co-author of The Re-Marriage Adventure: Preparing for a lifetime of love & happiness.