Surprising Marriage Advice … From Divorced People

What kind of marriage advice could divorced people possible give you? You'd be amazed! Read on for marriage tips on keeping things fresh, romantic advice, and relationship tips you can use starting today. #relationshipadvice #marriageadvice #relationshiptips #divorce

What kind of marriage advice could divorced people possible give you?

Friends, you’d be surprised. In factI think you should consider dating someone who’s been through a divorce. Wait. Wait. I FULL ON RECOMMEND IT.

Here are my completely subjective and anecdote-based reasons that you should go out with that divorced cutie from OkCupid.

1. Divorced people are more likely to take relationships seriously
When you tell your 24-year-old boyfriend that you feel disrespected when he flirts with other girls, he might think you’re an uptight nag.

But a divorced dude know that flirting/trust/fidelity issues can crack the foundation of a marriage. Divorced people realize that the little, every day arguments can lead to larger, deeper issues. They’re more likely to take your concerns seriously.

2. Divorced people are more likely to talk about their feelings + needs
Because they (hopefully) went to therapy before, during, or after their divorce.

3. Divorced people are more likely to know what they’re looking for in a partner + what works for them
Less time devoted to relationships that aren’t going anywhere. Less time figuring out if you two are the right match. They’ve (hopefully) learned what does and doesn’t work for them and how to communicate those needs.

Of course, divorcees are just like any other group of people – huge, diverse, un-sterio-typeable- there are 1.2 million divorces in America every year. I’m sure there are thousands of douchy, inconsiderate, clueless divorced people who you should never date. But there are just as many smart, kind, amazing divorced people who are better for having been married.

As the second wife of a divorced guy, I’m particularly interested in the topic. So I asked five of my divorced friends what they learned from their first marriages.

Marriage advice from divorced people

Surprising marriage advice from divorced people >> yesandyes.orgJessica and her current partner Nick


I have learned to pause and check in with my partner when I sense a silence on his end. Sometimes I find that I’m making decisions and forging ahead in life without consulting him and he feels left out or that his opinions aren’t important to me.

Just because you and your spouse are getting along does not mean you are communicating Share on X In fact, it’s probably healthy to have a good, heated discussion bordering on (nonviolent/non-abusive) arguing every now and again. It forces you to do a bit of a reset, to focus on your priorities, and to re-learn what your spouse’s priorities are.

Even if you are getting along just fine, you need to check in with each other. See if there are any wrinkles that need ironing out.

Pick a night every once in a while, crack open a bottle of wine, and make sure there aren’t any grievances that need airing. Give each other a safe space to air those and listen to each other.

I completely disagree with the “don’t go to bed angry” piece of advice that people often dispense. You’re not going to die in your sleep. Go ahead, go to bed angry. Often times, people are arguing because they’re tired. They’re worked up about something and it’s snowballing in a major issue.

Go to sleep, and in the morning, the both of you will probably feel like asses and apologize to each other. Then you can talk calmly about what it was that upset you in the first place (and maybe have amazing morning make-up sex).

It’s fine to have a shared checking account for bills or savings account for your future together (nest egg, vacation fund, etc), but also have your own money, too.

Don’t share everything. You are still your own people with your own pasts, credit histories, and (possibly) separate futures! Decide how you want to share expenses/bills/savings and then keep your other money separate. This will actually spare you from some of the money arguments many couples have.

There is no such thing as “the one.” Not for anyone. There are seven billion people on Earth, and zero of them are a perfect 10 for you.

If you’ve found someone that’s a 9.2 for you (but dang, you really wish he had a retirement plan and liked cats!), round that person up to a 10 and count yourself lucky!

However, keep in mind that that means you CAN NOT get lazy and take that person for granted or allow yourself to be taken for granted.

Surprising marriage advice from divorced people >> yesandyes.orgDavid and his second wife Cleo


I really like increasing other people’s happiness – most especially that of the person I love – and lots of times that takes the form of doing things for them. Self-sacrifice is a habit worth cultivating, right?

However, it falls off the rails if you’re always the “no, whatever YOU want” person, or aren’t confident about your wants, your needs, and what you’d like to spend your time doing. Your partner wants you to be their partner, not their puppy.

Ask “how was your day” and really mean it. When your partner asks that question, don’t just summarize with “fine” – actually tell them what interested you, challenged you, annoyed you that day.

If something’s bothering the other person, they may not tell you, but you know when there’s just a hint of them being short with you, bummed, irritated, etc? It’s probably not your imagination and don’t get in the habit of just ignoring it or waiting for them to bring up the issue. Ask what’s up.

Be ready to hear an answer you might not like. Don’t get defensive. Don’t be too hasty to accept an “I don’t want to talk about it.”

There are cases where it actually is not a good time to talk about something. But if you’re in the habit of letting smaller moments like that slide, never to be resolved, they build up into a pile of either lost opportunities to grow closer/better. Or they get brought up later in seemingly-unrelated arguments when everyone is even less inclined to be charitable.

You want to feel wanted. Your partner does too. The only part you really have control over is how you demonstrate that to your honey, though – so do a bang-up job of that.

You need to upset the mundane brush-your-teeth-and-take-out-the-recycling-first habits every once in a while. Don’t let sex become something you only do once you’re in bed at night, after the usual routine.

Put your bills on auto-pay.

You won’t always feel exhilarated, and will probably even feel let down. You’ll annoy the shit out of each other sometimes. And that’s going to be the case even with the truest, longest-lasting love.

Do you feel like you need to hide something from your spouse (and I’m not talking surprise birthday party plans)? That should be a huge warning sign that you need to get honest with yourself (and them) about it. Get attuned.

Don’t waste time nurturing fond memories of Ones That Got Away. Make the most of delighting in the person you’re with now. The grass is greener where you water it.

Put your trust in another human and there’s a chance you’ll end up with heartbreak and disappointment. Do it anyway.

Surprising marriage advice from divorced people >> yesandyes.orgKathleen, her second husband Jeremy and their little boy Fox


In my first marriage, I assumed that because we had “forever” that I could give my marriage the attention it needed to thrive later. So now I give my husband and our relationship daily consideration.

It’s easier to like each other when you’re giving each other orgasms regularly. Just saying.

In my first marriage chores and responsibilities were kind of all willy-nilly. There were no defined roles like there are in my marriage now.

I think part of that comes with just being young and figuring out how to be an adult. I will say in my marriage now, especially having a kid together, I’ve learned that dividing chores and being okay with how someone else does things is key.

I know that my husband isn’t great at making decisions but instead of getting resentful I recognize that decision-making is kind of my superpower and my job within our marriage. On the flip side, he’s really good at being tidy and organized but doesn’t get mad at me when my closet is a mess.

Surprising marriage advice from divorced people >> yesandyes.orgKenny and his second wife – me!


During my first marriage I think I may have thought I was supposed to be perfect, and since I wasn’t and couldn’t be, I just made-believe, by ignoring and not dealing with things.

Communication is by far the most important component of any serious relationship. Of course, we need to listen and try to understand the other person, but at least as importantly, we need to be very clear ourselves, about our hopes, our expectations, our intentions, and what we really mean. Assumptions may actually be the root of marital evil.

Everyone should schedule meetings or check-ins, every month at least, to make sure nothing is going unmentioned.

For any marriage to work, you will probably have to understand yourself in ways you never imagined. Your partner will have to do the same.

Surprising marriage advice from divorced people >> yesandyes.orgKate

There is no way one person can 'run' the communication in a marriage. Share on X It may work in the short-term, but if you don’t have two people working consistently and fairly, it will fail. Marriage ends when one person stops trying.

Intimacy makes or breaks a marriage. You live with other people, you see movies with other people, you shop with other people, you share meals with other people. Intimacy is the only thing that sets your partnership apart from friendships and other relationships you have. Make space for it in spades.

Being on time is an incredibly loving act. And eliminating conversations about ins and outs of our day by using tools like lists and calendars are incredibly helpful in lessening the doldrums of a marriage and raising a family.

If you are getting married, for the love of gods don’t change your name. Trust me.

It’s essential to continue being yourself inside a marriage. And if you feel like you can’t be, follow your gut and get out. You never will. Your life is waiting on the other side.

What have you learned from your previous relationships? Do you date divorced people – and have you noticed a difference between The Divorced and The Never Marrieds?

P.S. If you have a habit of dating unsuitable people, this might help. And it’s free!

photo by jens lelie // cc

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  1. miss nitro

    You and your husband look so happy! I was wondering if your family gave you any backlash about marrying a divorced guy for your first marriage. It sounds like the thing family might make snarky comments about (at least in my family . . . )

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      They didn’t! My sister is also married to a divorced man who has a child from a previous relationship and I have two aunts who went through divorces.

      Also, I think they were so surprised that I got married they didn’t want to jinx it 😉

      • The Jadeite Shutter

        how did I miss that you got married!?!?!!!!?!!? Did you chose not to blog about it? Congratulations!

        • Sarah Von Bargen

          I’ll be blogging about it – just waiting to get the photos back! 🙂

          • Amy

            YAY WE ARE GETTING PHOTOS! I was worried we’d only get that (admittedly gorgeous) one! I want to see your venue, dress & shoes, closeup of that lovely bouquet, etc! I’m a longtime reader & I’m very happy for you. When I saw your instagram I was out with people and squealed like one of my good friends had secretly gotten hitched lol! Go you, can’t wait for the wedding post. You guys look adorable and thrilled with each other. Rock on!

  2. Katie

    LOVE this post! I was just having a conversation with a girlfriend this weekend about how divorced guys aren’t “no-go”s for me, but rather “slow-go”s. And I am so happy that you are happy, congratulations!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      “Slow-go”! I love that!

  3. Becky

    Great advice for everyone’s relationship! And the photo of you guys is too sweet 🙂

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Thanks! I think I’m pinching his butt 😉

  4. Kristen

    Fellow divorced gal here who is currently in long-term relationship with an also divorced man. When I started dating again after divorce, I came up against a lot of people who weren’t interested after learning this fact. Maybe it was because I was just 30 and already divorced, but I think it was because I was so clear on what I wanted, who I was, and what I wouldn’t deal with in a relationship. Getting divorced taught me what mattered in life and truly what love was, which meant it started with loving myself. I think for a lot of guys that strength and self-confidence was a lot to handle for some guys. The great thing about dating after divorce, and dating a divorced person, is that the games aren’t there. When you go through the struggle of a failing marriage and then divorce process, the little things don’t matter anymore because after standing up for myself and the life I wanted/deserved, it made going forward to whoever might be next really easy because I was set on who I was. That was one of the sexiest/most appealing things about my man– we both were honest and upfront about what we wanted and it didn’t matter that it was early on because we knew what mattered.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Kristen, I love this and so many internet high fives to you!

    • Ashley

      Yes! This x100! I got divorced at 28 (married at 22) and thought no one would want to date a young divorced woman. Some didn’t, but Kristin was spot on about knowing who you are, what you want, etc. after a divorce. I met an amazing man who I’m in a great relationship with. He’s not divorced, but he instantly appreciated that I was a solid person and had a clear vision for my future. Lucky for us, our visions were very similar. 🙂

      • Sarah Von Bargen

        So glad you found your person, Ashley!

  5. Anna

    This is such a great idea for a feature (and for dating)! And congratulations on your newly minted marriage!

  6. Mickey

    Oh yay. Congrats on your marriage. I didn’t know you got married.

    I’m a second wife too. Of course, I was also in a very long term relationship (9 years) that ended before I met my husband, so it somehow felt that I’d been married too.

  7. Lindsay

    My boyfriend was in the middle of a divorce when we met. I was worried that he was rebounding and that I would get hurt, but mostly I was so hung up on the fact that I would never be his “first” and “only” wife, that I was ignoring the more important fact that I was damn well going to be his last. 🙂 It’s been three and a half years so far and the level of happiness and love I experience with him on a daily basis with him just blows my mind. And he treats me better than any man I’ve ever dated, because he knows that we have a good thing and neither of us take that for granted. Thank you for this wonderful post!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Love it! I’m always so happy to hear that someone has found their ‘happily ever after’ the second time around 😉

  8. Ashley

    I left a comment above, but this one is totally unrelated to this article. I’m the Ashley that did your True Story: I Was Inside a Tornado. I just clicked on Kenny’s link above and realized he left a comment on my article and we sent a few emails back and forth, but they petered out. I remember visiting his blog then and when I did just now I had a “woah” moment. Anyway, congrats on your marriage!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Oh fun! Yep, he’s very much a tornado expert. He’s one of two or three urban tornado experts so he’s always on tv during extreme weather!

  9. Roselie

    I did a double take when I read the title of this post, but I have to say I agree wholeheartedly.

  10. Rebekah

    I’m going through a divorce now at 35 and as someone who has been dreading the thought of getting back in the dating game (once I am ready), this post was extremely comforting. I also second Kate: do not, under any circumstances, change your name. Changing it back is a special kind of torture.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I’m so glad this was a comfort to you! I hope your divorce proceedings go smoothly <3

  11. Karen

    I had no idea you got married so YAY! (also: if wedding pictures don’t have at least one butt-pinching one in there… haha).
    Lots of great tips and tricks and lovely advice. Thanks for sharing you guys 🙂

  12. Jessica N

    I definitely felt a little odd when I first started dating someone that was divorced (maybe it was because I was in my 20’s and he was older than me – but we’re still together now 4 years later) until I realized how silly that was, especially if that person has learned a few things and grew from those experiences. This was a great read and a very relatable article. Thank you!

  13. shanna

    As we all know, first marriages are starter marriages 🙂

    Get all the rocky stuff out of the way, learn what you don’t want to do in the next marriage or long-term serious thing (and possibly switch teams–like I did). So date (and marry) a divorced person–like me!

  14. Marie

    I’m divorced, (aged 24, currently I’m 32) and my boyfriend is also divorced (plus kids – one lived with us and has just gone to college and another lives with his mum). I love my boyfriend, and it is true all that the above commenters (and you!) say about how much you learn from being divorced (or having had a long-term-live-in relationship. The question I have for myself is would I want to get married again? If both of us have been married before, are we hypocrites marrying again? I also felt in my first marriage that for a long part of it I was only with him because “I had to be”- that we were married. And I kinda like the idea that with my current guy I am with him because I “choose” to be, everyday. Just interested in what people think! Great article x

  15. Sandra, Italy

    As the second wife of a wonderful man I loved this post ? As Lindsay writes, we also don’t take each other for granted and know we’re very lucky to have found each other! ❤

  16. lauren

    I love how you snuck your little marriage announcement in there- I thought it was a typo in the beginning. 🙂 Congratulations and many years of love, laughter, and happiness to you both!

    • lauren

      WAIT you totally didn’t sneak it in- I just don’t read in order.

      Congratulations still stand <3

  17. Anonymous

    I think most people can agree that divorce is not ideal. As a child of divorce is has proven to still sometimes be a challenge– even in adulthood. It’s something I’d never want to ever put my children through, and I have so many friends with divorced parents who’d agree. It is usually better for the adults, but absolutely full of harm for the children. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, just offer a different perspective. I’m also saying this in light of situations that do not include abuse, absolutely those are situations where divorce IS the best option. But statistically (and I’m too busy to pull these up, but I know they’re out there) most divorced people regret their divorce years later and most divorces aren’t because of abuse. One thing that concerns me about divorced people back on the dating scene is that I have to wonder why they are divorced? A manipulative or abuse spouse? Understandable. You just fell out of love or couldn’t work past conflict? Not acceptable. One thing that I think is so broken in our culture is the idea that marriage should always make you happy. I think anyone who has been married for more than a few years can attest to the reality that marriage is often HARD work. They can be good years and there can be bad years. The trick is to keep moving forward, and hopefully grow closer even through challenging times. It saddens me that our culture doesn’t take marriage as seriously as it used to. I can understand why divorced people would have lots of great experiences to share, but I’ll take my marriage and dating advice from people who I want to model my life after: those who have been successfully married for a long time. It’s not that you can take advice from divorced people, but would you take financial advice from someone with horrendous credit?

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