Your Second (or third, or fourth) Marriage Will Also Fail

You must address the common denominator

Frank Vaughn
3 min readFeb 23, 2022
Photo by Courtney Clayton on Unsplash

So you’ve failed at marriage. Maybe more than once. I get it — it’s hard enough the first time, and statistics routinely suggest that it never gets easier the more times you try it.

Marriages end. Kind of a lot, actually. There is some evidence that the divorce rate has actually declined from 2009–2019 (as has the marriage rate), but the numbers still kind of suck. The bad news? Nearly half of all first marriages end, and things only get worse with each successive attempt thereafter. I won’t lie — I’m a living example of this.

There are tons of articles on why this is the case, but the individual truth lies in the hearts of those who go through it. Sure, you can do studies and crunch statistics to try to diagnose the root cause of this widespread phenomenon, but does tracing societal trends help you slay your own dragon? Likely not.

I’ve been married somewhere between two and five times. Each time one failed, I made the same key mistakes that guaranteed the next one would as well. In talking with others who have walked a similar path, I began to realize that much of my pattern was surprisingly common. Does any of this apply to you?

  1. I blamed others for my misfortune. And it wasn’t just my exes, either. I developed a habit of pointing back to my family history and blaming my socialization for being incapable of functioning in a relationship. When I tired of that, I returned to what my former significant other did or didn’t do to make me feel loved. For the longest time, it didn’t occur to me that maybe — just maybe — I had something to do with it.
  2. I let my loneliness bully me into moving from one relationship right to the next. I didn’t take adequate time to do an honest autopsy on the dead corpse of each prior situation. It’s little wonder that I kept stumbling from failure to failure when I didn’t even bother to determine a true cause of death. I didn’t create any margin for myself to learn from my mistakes, which of course meant I was doomed to repeat them.
  3. I foolishly tried to change my type of partner, thinking that I was just picking badly. You know that old saying about the definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result? Well, in my haste to “fix my luck,” I deliberately sought vastly different personalities in potential partners, thinking that if I found the “right” person, then I would finally find happiness.

This comes down to three key things: lack of self awareness; lack of time to grieve, learn, and be honest with myself; and an abundance of heavy-handed tactics pointed at fixing myself through others.

If you keep tripping from relationship to relationship, hoping to find “the one” around each next corner, you likely never will. The only way to truly break that cycle is to be more honest with yourself. If people keep leaving you, then that means something is going on inside of you that seriously needs addressing.

Give yourself some time to work through your feelings. Give yourself permission to be honest about what is broken inside you. Genuinely address those things before trying to find love again.

If you keep dragging your hurt from person to person, allowing it to gather mass as you add more failure to your resume, you will never find the happiness that you deserve. Stop the cycle. Achieve true healing. Become the kind of person that -you- can love, and you’ll likely find that others will find it easier to do so, as well.



Frank Vaughn

Regional Emmy- and AP-award winning journalist and writer. Everyone’s brother.