Experts say that we think 400 thoughts a minute on average. That is equivalent to a 10,000 pages every 80 hours. Throughout our lives we are constantly writing a continuous instruction manual to help us predict and react to the world and the people around us.
We refer to those manuals constantly. They are the way that we perceive and view the world around us, and we treat them as facts. Unfortunately about 3/4 of the contents are simply our opinions, conclusion and preconceived notions- many of which are false. We also tend to believe that everyone should use our manual, and that our way of viewing the world is the one and only correct way.
When we enter into a second marriage, we both bring our individual, pre-written manuals.
Because we are older and have had a lot more time to write our instruction manuals, entering into a second marriage is much more complex than beginning a first marriage. Furthermore, our manual has been integrated and blended with our former spouse’s manual. When we remarry we find that our prewritten manuals do not fit. All of the ways that we are used to judging and reacting to a spouse are different.
If we want to get remarried, we need to be aware that it is going to take a lot of time to learn another person’s instruction manual and a lot of flexibility to rewrite and change our manuals so that we can make the two mesh.I remember when Scott and I first got married, we had a lot of adjusting to do. There were things that he had done differently in his home growing up than I had done, and we had clashes of opinions, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. For twenty years I worked on training my husband, and in the end we had a very workable marriage. We learned what to expect from one another, but it took twenty years to achieve that. It took us a long time to learn each other’s instruction manuals, and they were much shorter back then.
The truth is that we cannot replace our old spouse. If we want to get remarried, we need to be aware that it is going to take a lot of time to learn another person’s instruction manual and a lot of flexibility to rewrite and change our manuals so that we can make the two mesh.
Here is a little way to help you start to learn about your partners manual and to better understand your own:
The book called “The Heart of the Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is a great read for understanding how to give and show love to your partner. I am going to briefly share the six love languages that grief counselor, Kent Allen talked about at a widows conference I attended. (Yes, he added one more)
- ‘Touch Me” person-They need physical contact and affection to feel loved and to show love. They feel intimacy through physical contact.
- “Tell Me“ person-They need verbal reassurance of love and compliments. They love to talk and they need to tell their story and they want to hear the stories of others. They feel intimacy by sharing their life.
- “Show Me“ person-They show you they love you by what they do for you. They perceive love through acts of service.
- “Quality Time“ person-They need one on one time with just the person they care about. These people tend to get jealous if they do not get enough time.
- “Gifts“ person-They love to give and receive gifts to display their love.
- “Food“ person- They bring people together and make memories often surrounding food.
Once you have identified your love languages and your partner’s love languages, then you can choose to use those methods to better communicate love. Even if those methods are not natural, we can rewrite our instruction manuals to include those behaviors. Thus loving a new spouse is about learning about them, and adapting to best fit their needs. It is about focusing on them.
We need to realize that we will have to do new and different things in a new marriage. Kent Allen said that we need to go into marraige committed “to giving that person our full heart and our full attention… and we do everything in our power to take care of them.”
A second marriage is an exercise in sacrifice and unconditional love.
To make a marriage work we have to be willing to sacrifice everything for our family. As both marriage partners work hard to take care of one another, then all of the needs are met. There is a power in this kind of relationship.
Sacrifice gives us that power. It equally yokes us, let’s us work together so we can move forward “to make our lives happy, to make our lives work and to make our marriages solid.”
Questions to Ponder, Journal about and Discuss with your partner
How can you use this information to help you prepare for a remarriage?
What are your love languages and how do you best like those needs met?
What commitments do you both need to make to each other to make a marriage work?
How does service and unconditional love help our needs get met?
How does adaptability and flexibility play into a second marriage working?