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Can Love the Second Time Around Be Better Than the First?


FREE!!! Over 200 Mini-Love-Lessons, Touching the lives of thousands in over 190 countries Worldwide

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson is all about people making a second marriage (or love-mated relationship) and later attempts at couple’s love to succeed better than most people do.  It introduces the concept of “team love” as crucial to second and later effort success, and presents what are NOT the right answers times seven.


Second Failures and Second Successes

Second marriages, second marriages to the same person, try again relationships, re-contacts after breakups, joining up after years apart, living together again with an ex – they all start with the danger of the past repeating itself.  They also face a statistical worse chance of staying together than does a first time, committed relationship.  Even so, all these second attempts are on the rise throughout the developed world.

The good news is there is a growing group of couples (maybe up to about 30+ percent ?) who are making second goes at love, marriage, etc work and, not only that, but making them work far better than their first attempts.  Another good news factor is we are beginning to have some ideas, some understandings, some research and some new and apparently more helpful concepts about what makes second goes at couple’s love work and what makes them fail.

It is still true that most second, third, fourth, etc. marriages and other couple’s unions fail at greater rates than do first time marriages, etc. but it does not have to be that way.  This is demonstrated by a number of second marriage couples exhibiting their second-time-around as far more successful, more healthy, more happy and more lasting than their first.

I literally have worked with hundreds of second time couples.  On follow-up survey research, most of them report getting better and better at being a loving couple.  I heard from one of them just yesterday. They told about how they were before and after they came to do love-centered, team oriented, couple’s counseling. Collectively they had previously made five marriage type attempts, all ending in agonizing failure.  That was years ago before they got together and started learning what it really takes to make a second attempt, couple’s love have lasting success (defined as 10 or more years).  Furthermore, I personally know this because I am in such a second relationship which Kathleen which we have made work better and better for over 40 years.

What Is NOT the Answer Times 7!

Before we look at what does work, let’s look at some of what we can learn from second attempt failures.

1.    Relying on doing a love relationship the same way you did it before likely will not work any better the second time than it did the first.  You must do different to get different results.  Those who succeed at a second go at couple’s love usually learn to do the second relationship very differently than they did their first.  There are some exceptions but not many.

2.    Relying on finding the perfect mate who treats you just right, just about guarantees failure.  One reason is because that puts almost all the pressure and weight of succeeding on your love-mate and little or none on yourself, or on your joint team love system which often turns out to be a crucial factor.

3.    Relying on the magic of love to make every thing work right this second time is like a farmer relying on the magic of nature alone to produce a healthy, abundant harvest.  No, it is going to take a lot of new love knowledge and team work along with the magical nature of love.

For example think of acrobats and their incredible teamwork to keep each other tumbling and sailing through the air safely.  Then think of any well coordinated team artfully running plays and patterns in cooperation and harmony, so as to make scores and win the game.  Now think of couple’s love like a team sport; you don’t know yet how to play very well.  So, it is going to take a lot of joint learning and joint practicing to get good at it together.  Love’s magical nature may get you started but from there on its sheer conjoint team effort and increasing love skill that wins the day.

4.    Do NOT rely on falling in love, feeling like you are in love, or being sure you are in love now that you think you have found the single, right person for you because several forms of false love can give you pretty much the very same initial feelings.

5.    Do NOT rely on manipulation games, relating by deceptions, relational trickery, other people’s rules for romance, hiding your less pleasant truths, phoniness or any other lack of realness because while those things might get you married falsehood, likely will not keep you mated that way or get you into healthy, real love.

6.    Do NOT rely on blaming of your ex, or of yourself or anything else to help you know how to go on to second love success.  And while you are thinking about past failures do not spend too much time on what went wrong because usually that will not lead you to what you must do right or what you must skillfully learn to do well.  Remember, knowing 3 is not the answer to 2+2 does not tell you the answer is 4.  Plus, it leaves you open to the mistakes of answering 5, 6, 7, etc.  However, it usually is useful to study what and how you could have done better.

7.    Do NOT rush into your next, heavy duty relationship.  Start light and don’t specialize in any one person too soon.  Sample broadly, let the best emerge and grow into it slowly.  Take a year and preferably two, once you think something is working really well.  As Paul told us, “ love is patient”.  It usually is false love that is in a hurry.

A New Understanding of Second Love Success

Second attempts at spousal love may go better, even much better than first marriages, non-marriages, unions, etc. because the couple learns to work at doing love itself better as a team.  Team love, much like any teamwork, requires a coordinated interaction of sending love and receiving love more skillfully and more completely than might have occurred in first marriages and other love attempts.  It appears that is because successful second marriage couples jointly tend to go looking for the how-to’s of doing love better than they did before.  They may not consciously know they are doing this, then again sometimes they do.  Also being aware that they can fail appears to help them be much more careful right from the start of a new relationship.

Those who succeed seem to interact in cooperative coordination using the behaviors of love much more often and much more readily than in previous relationships.  In doing so, they continually develop and hone their team love skills.  Such couples become increasingly better at working together in unison and jointly uniting to produce positive effects.  They learn to act in much more loving concert with each other pulling together, acting side-by-side, joining their forces together and siding with each other when facing opposition or difficulty.

These couples make efforts jointly and concurrently, growing their common love connection and with it a strengthening team spirit.  Their approach is exemplified by the statement “when I win you win, and when either of us loses so does the other and so does our relationship”.  They assist each other to be individuals but that too they do with team harmony.  Sometimes they do fall into disharmony and dissonance.  When that happens it is not long before they are trying to come back together in the teamwork of healing and conjointly reconnecting.  With their success, comes a joint shared joy and motivation to succeed again together even better.

More technically, successful second time couples are thought to build a much better systemic, love-active series of positive and jointly developed interaction patterns.  When one makes a little bid for a love connection with a glance, a sound, a gesture or anything, the other one picks up on it and smoothly and quickly acts in kind.  When one directly asks for any particular show of love, the other one also smoothly and quickly is responsive in kind.  The teamwork truly is a duet of love-responsive-interaction.

Much like superb, well practiced dancers, their actions, even when very different from one another, integrate with each other to produce a synergetic, singular whole.  Their support is mutual as is their respect for one another and their affirmation is solid and frequently freely evident as is a tolerance when things do not go well.  They do sometimes clash, sometimes quite vehemently, but never nearly as much as they harmonize and demonstrate how much they value one another and the importance of their coupleness.

It is important to know that this systemic team love concept for many people is hard to understand and also not easily researched.  It is hard enough for a lot of people to comprehend the ways of an individual let alone the interaction patterns of a couple acting in loving concert with one another.
To help you with that, here is a double example.  Al stays at the office later and later because he knows that when he gets home he will be met with his angry, disappointed, complaining wife, Barb.  So, Al stays later and later to avoid that.  He secretly hopes that Barb will get the idea that being nice would get him home sooner.  Barb waiting at home gets angrier, increasingly disappointed and prone to intense complaining the longer and longer it takes for Al to get home.  She secretly hopes her demonstrable unhappiness will get her husband to start coming home sooner.

Both Al and Barb’s actions are having the opposite of the desired effect.  Neither of them sees that what they are doing, trying to make it better, makes it worse; nor do they see that it is a cyclical pattern they both jointly are creating.  Next-door, Carl works to get home as quickly as he can because his wife, Debbie, is so pleasant to come home to.  Debbie is pleasant because Carl always arrives home greeting her with happy love.  They too are creating a joint interaction, cyclical pattern but one that has a positive, team love effect instead of an anti-love, negative one. Might it be that Al and Barb are in a first marriage and Carl and Debbie in a second, having learned better from their first?

In or Going toward a Second, Big, Committed Effort at Love?

If you are already in or going toward a second, big, committed effort at couple’s love, let me suggest you get a really strong TEAM focus.  As a team, together study, discuss and practice the behaviors of love  “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”, the understandings of love’s workings, the things that are known to help couple’s teamwork and those that do not help.  Learn how to avoid the traps of false love and the skills it takes to grow healthy, real love also can be part of your team focus.  Of course, we recommend this website and its 200+ mini-love-lessons, the books mentioned here, along with everything else you can find that looks like it might be worthy of your joint attention.  Classes, workshops, retreats, and being around loving people, especially loving couples, often can do wonders.  There is lots more but that will have to do for now.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love success question: When, where and with whom have you done your best teamwork, and can you see how to apply what you did there to growing a couple’s team love?

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