Friday, July 19, 2024

Newlyweds Again! One Couple’s Experience Marrying Twice

HomeFeaturesNewlyweds Again! One Couple’s Experience Marrying Twice

Don’t give up on me,” Alan Jones would say to ex-wife Toni Garner Jones in the occasional phone call or family gathering during the 17 years following their divorce. The former couple raised two children and have four grandchildren together, so staying in touch wasn’t unusual. But the comment was, Toni says. 

“I would look at him and think, ‘What the heck is he talking about?’”

The answer became obvious to everyone in their lives this past October when the couple, who first married in 1974 and divorced 32 years later, took a second walk down the aisle and said “I do” all over again. 

“It was his way of letting me know that he wanted to get back together, but just wasn’t ready,” Toni says.

Remarrying the same spouse after a divorce is more common and, according to Chaplain Scott Shubert, owner of Jacksonville’s Walk-In-Wedding Chapel, far more successful than you might think. 

“Couples who get married to each other again usually stay married for life,” Shubert says. “Their success rate is about 50% higher than all first marriages and nearly 75% higher than second marriages to other people.”

The Jones are counting on their marital do-over to bolster those statistics. 

Young Love 

Toni first caught Alan’s eye in the bleachers at a high school football game and they got to know each other when both their families began attending the same Jacksonville church shortly after. With a surprise baby on the way, they eloped to Ludowici, GA. She was 16, he was 18. And despite the monumental odds, they made it work for more than three decades before calling it quits. 

“Alan had a midlife crisis,” Toni quipped. 

“She’s right,” Alan admits. “I was 18 and just wanted to play sports.” 

The couple divorced in 2006 and it would be several years before things would be amicable between them again. Both dated other people and Alan had a fleeting notion of marrying one. 

“The longer I was with her, the more I realized she just wasn’t Toni,” he says. 

“I never really got over him,” Toni adds. 

Fast forward to early 2023, when the two jointly grieved the unexpected loss of a family member and memories flooded back. They began spending more time together with their kids and grandchildren and, when dinner and a night out at a Little River Band concert led to more dinners and more nights out, the two became as inseparable as when they were lovestruck teens. Within six months, they tied the knot again.

Two Times a Charm

One key realization that many remarrying couples share is that their relationship wasn’t as bad as they initially thought during the divorce. The break in their union allows them time and space to reflect on the positives that once existed, leading to a newfound appreciation for the connection they share. The second chance at marriage becomes an opportunity to build upon the strengths of their relationship and address the challenges that led to the initial separation.

Shubert highlights three critical insights gained by couples after divorce.

“Many couples getting remarried have told me after the divorce that they realized three things,” he says. “Their relationship wasn’t as bad as they thought it was; finding a better mate is harder than they thought it would be; and they were more responsible for the breakdown of the relationship than they thought they were at the time.”

For those contemplating a second marriage to the same person, Shubert offers valuable tips based on his extensive experience with remarried couples:

Accept Responsibility: Acknowledge the role each partner played in the breakdown of the relationship and commit to personal growth. Taking responsibility is a crucial step toward building a healthier connection.

Communicate: Foster open and honest communication. Learn from past mistakes and ensure that both partners feel heard and understood. 

Seek Professional Help: Consider seeking the guidance of a relationship counselor or therapist. Professional support can provide valuable insights and tools to navigate challenges and strengthen the marital bond.

Cultivate Forgiveness: Let go of past grievances and forgive both yourself and your partner. Forgiveness is essential for healing and moving forward, allowing the relationship to thrive without the weight of previous mistakes.

Celebrate the Positive Moments: Focus on the positive aspects of the relationship. Celebrate achievements, milestones, and the unique connection that brought you back together. 

“Almost all of the couples I’ve married for the second time both accepted responsibility for their part in the breakdown of the relationship and worked to fix their shortcomings as a partner,” Shubert says.

Toni’s advice for couples considering a second shot at wedded bliss echoes Alan’s years-long plea: “Don’t give up.”  

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