Second innings

This edition of the newsletter is just me contemplating out loud about people who have re-entered the market to get married for the second time.

As many of you may know from this newsletter, most people hire matchmakers or marriage brokers more as a last resort and hence, matchmakers don’t always enjoy the luxury of high “success rates”. In fact, there’s almost no such thing as an easy day at work. But I feel like this was taken to a whole new level last week when I’d several enquiries from people who are trying to get married for the second time. I really felt almost ill-equipped to help these people because quite frankly, I’ve not worked with too many people who’ve been married before.

The one time I got a divorced client for my advisory service, he ghosted me after our first conversation. My hunch is that he didn’t appreciate being asked to think about ways in which he may have contributed to the failure of his marriage. I think until you’ve truly processed a previous marriage, it’s detrimental to re-enter the market. But I get that people don’t like random strangers suggesting this, and hence, I usually avoid working with people who aren’t asking for help.

Anyway, for the last one week or so, I’ve been trying to research and talk to people who’ve been married twice or are attempting to, in order to build my own understanding. I wanted to share my learnings so far, so I can be challenged and learn from those of you who know better.

So, here goes:

People absolutely deserve a second chance

If you are in a serious relationship or are married, you know better than anyone that you are constantly giving each other second chances. Is this because you’ve already invested so much, and don’t see any other way? Or is it because you’re hopeful for the future? I’d like to believe that hope is what keeps us going, and this is as good a reason as any to give somebody a second chance.

Is a past relationship any different from a past marriage?

Why is it that people treat you differently when you’ve been married once before versus when you’ve been in a serious long term relationship? In India, while dating and living together as an unmarried couple is only a recently acknowledged public phenomenon, people believe that the collateral damage is lower. Fewer people know, hence, fewer people hurt implying lesser baggage.

People also think - if somebody actually went through the pain of getting married and getting a divorce, things must have been mighty bad as the friction to getting in and out of a relationship is far lower compared to a marriage. But the reality is that most of the time, the reasons are really the same - infidelity, incompatibility, lack of respect, breakdown of communication, impotency, etc.

Your baggage matters

While people are somewhat open to looking past emotional baggage, they’re more reluctant to dealing with physical baggages. People aren’t always comfortable being with people who’ve children from previous marriages unless they’ve got their own too. I’ve had people tell me things like “I am divorced with a 5 year old daughter, but she’s in boarding school and my future partner doesn’t have to worry about her at all, I am ready to relocate anywhere.” I don’t know what was going through this mother’s mind, but I bet it hurt more to say than it hurt me to listen.

Being pragmatic about the deal

Most of the time, people are fairly financially independent/ stable by the time they are trying to get married for the second time. Unless there are very clearly boundaries around how to plan to deal with monetary and non-monetary (children) assets, you are sort of treading murky waters. These are things that must usually be discussed up front although they sound incredibly transactional. Solid transparency around how a relationship will be built is the foundation of most relationships, especially second marriages.

Do men and women think differently?

Generally speaking, most women are clear they want to marry, they’re merely undecided on whom to marry. Men on the other hand, aren’t entirely convinced about entering such commitment. This fundamental difference in intention separates the men and women, and hence, women have a terrible experience on dating apps and men have a terrible time on matrimonial apps. The price you pay for companionship as a man is not money, but your commitment. In any case, it is as much your risk as it is that of a woman who agrees to marry you.

Acceptance is two-way

As far as the arranged marriage market is concerned, if you’ve been married once, you are more likely to be offered a second chance only by those who’re also seeking a second chance like yourself. This means that it is as much about you accepting them as it is about them accepting you.

It takes a lot of maturity and will to let go of your own past as well as the other person’s to truly make a second marriage work. Now, it is far from easy. It may take years before you’re able to make peace with who you are on your own as well as who you are in this new couple. But having someone to do this with can make all the difference.

I’ve learnt from hundreds of people about marrying for the first time. So, I bet this is just the beginning of a really long journey of learning about how to marry for the second time. Until then, if you’ve gyaan to offer, I’ll take it. Drop me a note.

More from Shapely Gal

Here’s a little sneak peak into the various projects I am working on:

  1. Dinner Club - I’ve absolutely loved setting up people who’re open to meeting new people and are just looking for a good conversation, and treat anything else that comes off the intro as a bonus. Not surprisingly, there was a strong correlation with age. So may be the next avatar of Dinner Club could serve a very specific age group so all of us can benefit from higher liquidity.

  2. Ask Auntie: A lot of people have a sequential approach to love and arranged marriage, which is fine except the order is a bit messed up. Someone even asked which is better - love or arranged marriage.

  3. Arrange Your Own Marriage: This course was concluded last week with a final episode about things you need to consider before making the final decision of whom to marry. Those of you who followed this course, if you’ve ideas/ suggestions on what my next course must be about, drop me a note.

  4. Panic Party: I’ve been invited by an organisation in Bangalore to address its members who are mostly parents of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. I am going to be talking about what people of our generation want from marriages and the role parents must play in supporting their wards (or not!).

Sneak Peak…

what I’m reading/ watching/ listening to:

Shapely Gal is a weekly-ish newsletter that discusses love, relationships, marriage and the various markets these are traded on. This newsletter is a concoction of observations, theories, ideas, real stories, figments of imagination and sometimes just rants on romantic relationships.