Guidelines for Facilitators - Special Circumstances

Cohabitation || Convalidation || Second Marriage

Working with those entering Second Marriages when using FACET
The important issues around second marriages are really twofold: first is the marriage itself, and second is the marriage in light of any children that are being brought into the marriage. The following discussion is framed in terms of a prior divorce. Where death caused the end of the first marriage several of the points will not pertain. Concerning the marriage, questions highlighted below are issues all couples will need to examine. Those couples bringing children into the marriage will necessarily also want to consider the parenting section.

Family of Origin:

  • Item 3 addresses the history of divorce in both families. You may ask the couple if any family divorces resemble their own divorce.

  • Item 9: "I need to forgive my parents for past hurts" might allow the remarrying partner to discuss family of origin as a source of the first breakup.

  • Item 12 will allow for a discussion of traditions coming from the first marriage that may or may not be carried over into this marriage. How does the other partner feel about those traditions?

Roles in Marriage

  • Item 17: I believe that we are both responsible for running our house. If children are involved, what responsibility do they have for the running of the household? What responsibility does the non-biological parent have for the children?


  • Item 23: There is no one right way to manage money. How will money be managed? Is child support part of the household budget?

  • Item 25: Differences about finances can cause stress in our relationship. Are there significant differences? Was that a presenting issue in the breakup of the first marriage?

  • Item 34: Important in any marriage, respect for spouse's financial concerns will be crucial in a second marriage, where there may need to be provision made for children.


  • Item 46: I will teach our values to our children. Does that mean I will teach my values to your children? What is the role of the stepparent here?

Work/Family issues

  • Item 61: Marital difficulties can have a negative impact on work performance. Was this true for you in your last marriage? How will you guard against this kind of spillover (hopefully they will come to the agreement that they will seek help if they have issues that are affecting either one's work life)

  • Item 67: I will balance my work and family life obligations. If family life obligations involve negotiations with a former spouse, it will be necessary to carefully budget time.

  • Item 68: I will discuss with my spouse any changes in my employment that might impact our marriage. Children's ability to see the other biological parent may limit work mobility. Has this been discussed?


  • Items 76 & 77: Friends that support or impede marriage is especially important when a couple is entering a second marriage. They need support, and may have lost friends during the breakup of the first marriage. This is a good place to have them engage around their "social security" system.

  • With Item 83: "I will build joint friendships to support our marriage," it would be good to talk about what strategies can be used.


  • Items 95 & 96: are aspects of intimacy that may be pertinent. If one or the other (or both) were cheated on in their first marriage, they may have some trust issues to deal with.


  • Item 105: "Marriage is for life" may present some confusion for someone who is remarrying. The emphasis is on this marriage, and on preserving and protecting the boundaries with this spouse. Hearing how the couple envisions this expectation is important.
  • Item 107 is always marked for discussion no matter how the respondents answer, because it is part of understanding covenant marriage within our culture and within one's own sense of self respect.

If this was a concern in the breakup of the first marriage, the section should be considered as a topic as a whole. If not, then focusing on the future oriented statements will allow the couple to talk about how they plan to communicate in this marriage.

Again, if the couple is bringing children into this marriage, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to discuss attitudes around parenting.

  • Item 129 is a telling statement. If either one does not think stepparenting is different from being a biological parent, they need to be led to some stepparenting resources. Even if the children seem to get along fine with the new adult before the marriage, there will be a significant period of adjustment after the marriage, and the couple's relationship will suffer if they are unaware of that fact.

  • For more information: For Those Who Are “In Step” By Nancy Landrum

Was faith or were spiritual differences a significant stressor in any previous relationship? Have you discussed these issues with your future spouse? Do you see faith or spirituality as a potential strength in this relationship?

Catholic Section
Was it necessary for one or both of you obtain an annulment through the Catholic Church in order to proceed with your plans to marry? Did you find this process helpful?

Cohabitation || Convalidation || Second Marriage