Is Love Really Sweeter the Second Time Around?

The first time I laid eyes on my second husband, Craig, I knew I was in for a wild ride. He stood over six feet tall, and was blonde and athletic. When I got past his good looks, he was the most charming yet genuine person I’d encountered in years—traits that are too rare in combination. We were introduced at a folk dance by my closest friend Barbara, our insistent matchmaker, and it was perfectly cliché: love at first sight.

I was forty-two years old then, and I was terrified about venturing into a rebound relationship since I had been divorced for a mere eight months when I met Craig. I remember thinking that if I continued to turn down his advances on the dance floor, he’d disappear. When that didn’t happen, I hid in the ladies’ room to throw him off balance, but to no avail—he sent Barbara to fetch me, and she was all too happy to oblige. 

After a few hours of this pursuer-distancer dance, Craig’s persistence paid off and we ended up closing down the dance hall and talking till 2 a.m. Being his usual bold and confident self, Craig essentially proposed to me that night. He asked me if I was up for a second marriage and bluntly asked whether I would “give him a chance.” He even said his proposition included my two kids (Barbara had shown him their photo) and the addition of one or two of our own. I was simultaneously excited and overwhelmed. It was more than I expected from our impromptu first meeting.

Our First Date Wasn’t Exactly Magical

For our “official first date,” Craig convinced me to go on a kayaking trip down the busiest part of the Providence River. I was eager, but more than anything, I was anxious. I’d grown up in Hollywood, California, riding my bike to school. And one fateful day, dodging the fancy cars and freaky folks darting around in their VW Bugs, I took quite a spill. That accident instilled a life-long fear of cycling—and now the first man who piqued my interest after my divorce was inviting me to go extreme kayaking on a sort of daredevil first date. 

Believing more in the chance of romance than the likelihood of a crash, I bit the bullet. Paddle in hand, and life vest securely strapped, I was ultimately stunned when Craig had the skills to navigate busy river traffic amid speed boats, gondolas, and canoes running amuck. Shaking and sweating profusely, none of my thirty-minute YMCA workouts had prepared me for this strenuous ride down a river in one of the most congested industrial parts of the city. My urgent S.O.S. wasn’t far behind, and when my kayak capsized, Craig sprang to the rescue. Memories of my traumatic childhood bike ride came rushing back, and I was awestruck and grateful when he displayed the wherewithal to save the day. 

We were soon sitting safely on the sandy, trash-littered shore, drying our socks and restoring my ego. In that moment, in spite of myself, I was overcome with the realization that we were really, really great together. The fact that we’re both outdoor adventure seekers (he’s very athletic and I’m more the type to take in a beautiful view), combined with our undeniable chemistry, convinced me that tying the knot a second time was worth a shot. We never discussed my disappearing act during our first meeting, but his strong will proved a worthy opponent to my nerve-racking fight or flight response to feeling anxious. At age forty-two, I humbly confided to friends and family that I had finally met my match. We made plans to marry just ten months later.

Remarriage Isn’t Always Bliss

During the first year of our marriage, we seemed to run on autopilot. We had fun with my two kids—food fights in our tiny, outdated kitchen and snowball fights in the snow (in the days before global warming) endeared my kids to Craig. We even managed to squeeze our new family of four into a small ranch-style home that we purchased with wedding gifts and our meager savings. Refurbished with Craig’s carpentry skills and my love of antiquing, it felt good to proudly hang a “Home Sweet Home” sign by our door. Love really was sweeter the second time around, but while downsizing to a small home gave us more cash, close quarters also created ample opportunities to bicker.

Fast forward to our second year of marriage, when Craig announced to our entire family that it was time to try to have a baby. In his usual style, he was single-minded and unwilling to let nature—and our advanced age—take the wheel. We quickly signed up for treatments at a fertility clinic, and I watched with trepidation as unwilling men practiced stabbing oranges with a syringe, attempting to prepare their partners for their first infertility drug injection. Knowing about my injection phobia, and rightly assuming I’d probably try to escape as I had on the dance floor that first night, Craig held my hand tightly making it virtually impossible for me to sabotage the treatments. We were there together, for better or worse. 

It was during these awkward fertility treatments that it dawned on me that there were some dramatic differences between my first and second marriages. I didn’t get pregnant easily after tying the knot with husband number two, like I did with my first husband fourteen years earlier, and I soon realized that love doesn’t conquer all. Working hard to conceive in my early forties made sex feel more like a chore on my to-do list than a passionate encounter. Often Craig would literally have to hold me down as he injected the drugs and bribe me with a promise of a late-night massage to keep me from bolting. 

The good news is that our daughter Catherine was born less than two years after we wed. She tipped the scales at a whopping eight pounds, and passed our pediatrician’s exam with flying colors. Healthy and happy, she reached all of the milestones early and brought joy and laughter to her siblings and both of her slightly older (and somewhat wiser) parents.

The Ups and Downs of Remarried Life

But eight years in, our marriage was on shaky ground. We were dealing with a myriad of issues common to remarriage, including co-parenting with my former spouse, unresolved emotional baggage from our first marriages, financial stress, different parenting styles, and jealousy, anger, and resentment around the competing needs of our children and the expectations of my aging in-laws. 

Early on in our marriage, I experienced firsthand the realization that the tools that I’d learned as a therapist weren’t working in my new stepfamily. Sometimes my professional training even made things worse. For instance, Craig didn’t appreciate it when I’d say things like “I know that your reaction to what I said is not really about me but is really a projection.” These comments only made him feel judged and weren’t helpful in the heat of a fight. He wanted to be in a marriage, not in a counseling session. So instead of analyzing our conversations, I came to grips with the fact that therapists are human and listening better and owning my own issues worked better than playing therapist. 

Truth be told, my fear of abandonment and mistrust left over from my first marriage interfered with our happiness during the first decade of my remarriage. Our issues were so intense that I once threatened to leave during a major blizzard because Craig was talking on the phone to his former girlfriend. She’d only called to catch up with Craig, but snow shovel in hand and carrying our three-year-old daughter in my arms, it took Craig an hour to convince me of the stupidity of fleeing with our daughter on the icy, unplowed roads. When he simply stated, “You’re my wife, I love you, there’s no cause for alarm,” I was finally able to lay down the shovel and put aside my pride.

Marriage Counseling Was a Lifesaver

Thankfully, we found an excellent marriage counselor and began unpacking from the baggage that we brought to our marriage. It took time, but we fell back in love and have learned to accept each other’s differences. Ultimately, we became more comfortable being authentic with each other. Instead of focusing on one another’s flaws, we were once again able to spend energy fostering a deeper connection and began enjoying the outdoors together again. 

And true to our thrill-seeking roots, we’ve also fixed up our old bicycles. I had long been content to let them collect dust in our garage, but overcoming my anxiety and getting back on a bike was not just an act of courage, but a symbol of our mutual trust and growth. 

In fact, Craig recently started socking away spare money for a bike fund, part of his plan to purchase his dream ride: a Trek 920 road/gravel bike. For my part, I’ve stepped up my workouts, and have resolved to try to keep up with my better half. After all, he was stubborn enough to wait it out while I overcame my fears. As a product of that commitment, we’ve forged a new kind of bravery together, taking a chance on our fabulous (albeit it flawed) second marriage. We share excitement about the future, and I feel safe and secure, doubtless that Craig can come to the rescue again if the road gets bumpy.

About the Author

Terry Gaspard MSW, LICSW is a licensed therapist, author, and college instructor who specializes in counseling children, adults, couples, and families. Terry is the owner of and is a regular contributor to,, The Gottman Institute Relationship Blog,, and Terry’s award-winning book, Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship, was published in 2016 by Sourcebooks. Her book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, was published by Sounds True in in 2020 and was the winner of American Book Fest’s 2020 Best Book Award in the category Self-Help: Relationships.