How We Built a Successful Second Marriage

By Kelly J. Stigliano
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
iStock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Statistics doom second marriages like Jerry and Kelly's. Seeking premarital guidance from a Christian counseling ministry was the logical choice to proactively protect their marriage.

  Listen to a broadcast about God’s amazing, unconditional love with
author Kelly J. Stigliano.

Statistics paint a gloomy picture of second marriages — more than
two-thirds of them end in divorce. So when I got engaged to Jerry, the
logical thing seemed to seek guidance from a Christian counseling ministry.
We didn’t want to be another sad statistic; we wanted to protect our
marriage.

Still, I was scared. “What if they tell us we shouldn’t get married,
Jerry?”

“Why would they?” My fiancé and I were sure we had heard God give us the
go-ahead to marry.

Seeking counsel

We met with a licensed therapist who was kind and funny and made us
feel at ease. “It’s wise that you came for counseling,” he said. “You’re
both bringing baggage into this marriage. It’s good to figure out what that
is and formulate a plan of action for success.”

The therapist had each of us take a thorough psychological and personality
assessment alone and return the tests later. The form had hundreds of
questions ranging from our physical health to our thoughts and social
responses. I wondered how helpful all this information would actually be.

At our next appointment the therapist went over the results with us.

“Kelly,” he said, “you exhausted your submission in your first marriage.”

Well, that was right! After five years of being hit in the head, choked and
told I was worthless, I had finally grabbed my two preschoolers and left.
Being the head of my own home and in charge of my little family had made me
stronger and more independent. Although I had found the Lord during that
time and desired to please Him, being submissive to a man was not my first
inclination.

The therapist then told Jerry, “You exhausted your patience in your first
marriage.”

“That’s for sure,” he said.

“You’re going to have to keep that in mind as you navigate your marriage
together. Also, Jerry, because you lead all day in your job as school
principal, you may not feel like leading at home.”

The therapist turned to me. He said, “Kelly, you’ve had to be in control of
your home since you left your first husband. You may feel like you want to
be at the helm. You’ll have to find balance.”

The personality assessment results were on target!

Our counseling helped us redefine “love, honor and obey” as “love, honor
and respect.” We learned to avoid the words always and never. Statements such as “You always do this” or “You never do
that” were now taboo. It was a good lesson — not just for marriage but also
for life.

The counselor explained that Jerry and I needed to continue drawing closer to God in our individual study times. He said to imagine a
triangle with God at the top and Jerry and me at the two bottom corners. As
we drew closer to God, we’d grow closer to each other. Reading the Bible or
a devotional book and praying together would increase our intimacy and
enhance our relationship.

The new beginning

When our wedding day came, we felt prepared not just for the event but also
for our life together as well.

The marriage ceremony was lovely. My son was the ring bearer, and my
daughter was the flower girl. Unfortunately, Jerry’s former wife wouldn’t
let their children attend. While we were sad about that, we tried not to
let it overshadow the day. Most of our family and close friends were there
to witness our union, pray for us and wish us well. At the end of the
evening, we left the reception and had our first night together at a local
resort. The next day we traveled south for a week in the Carolinas.

One night during the honeymoon week, I had a familiar nightmare about my
violent ex-husband. As usual, I was crying and sweating in my sleep. I
awoke and realized my groom was there. I was shaking and clearly not in
control. My vulnerability was embarrassing.

Jerry was sweet and patient: “Kelly, I’m going to pray for you.”

I loved how he cared for me, and I gladly acquiesced. It was comforting to
have a godly man lead the way.

Frankly, I didn’t have much faith in his prayer. I’d experienced horrific
dreams intermittently since I left my abusive first husband. Still, I
appreciated Jerry’s words. He stepped into the role of spiritual leader
with ease, simply asking God to take the nightmares away and to let me feel
His peace.

Thankfully, even though I had no faith in his prayer at the time, Jerry
did. That was over 30 years ago, and I haven’t had even one of those
frightening nightmares since.

During our honeymoon, we dedicated our marriage and family to the Lord. We
consciously gave Him full control over our lives and asked Him to help our
household become one of love and respect. We prayed about what the
counselor had said, asking God to help me follow Jerry’s gentle leading and
for him to have patience with me. We prayed that God would guide our
blended family and help us grow spiritually as we put Him at the center of
our marriage. And as we followed the advice of a counselor and submitted to
God’s leading, our marriage became one that beat the statistics.

Kelly J. Stigliano is an author and speaker.

A variety of marital issues can lead to challenges or even hopelessness for one or both spouses in a marriage. Gaining a sense of hope and direction often requires understanding the underlying issues and relationship patterns that may have led to the crisis. Reach out to well-trained helpers even if you are the only person in the marriage willing to take action at this time. We can guide you as you seek a referral and take your first steps toward recovery. You can contact us Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mountain time) at: 855-771-HELP (4357) or

[email protected]
www.FocusontheFamily.com/Counseling

© 2019 Kelly J. Stigliano. All rights reserved. Originally published on FocusOnTheFamily.com.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Kelly J. Stigliano

Kelly J. Stigliano is a reporter for a weekly newspaper, a published writer and a popular public speaker. She has written articles for numerous publications, and she is a blogger for Mentoring Moments for Christian Women. Kelly’s stories are included in 11 compilation books including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams …

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.