Yes, tons of relationship books are out there, but I would question whether any of them are as valuable as relationship coach Susan Ortolano’s new book Remarrying Right. If you’re like me, you probably know lots of people who have gotten married, divorced, then remarried, divorced again, and then married again. You might even be one of those people. What can you do to stop this vicious cycle? You can learn how to remarry right, and this book will help you—in fact, if you are seeking a permanent and meaningful relationship, it may be the most important book you ever read.
Susan Ortolano is a longtime relationship coach who knows what it’s like to make mistakes in relationships, to pick the wrong partner, and finally, to pick the right one. Yes, she is divorced and remarried, but her second husband is her longtime love, so she writes and coaches based upon personal experience, as well as drawing on fictionalized examples from the many clients she has helped over the years to establish happy and loving marriages.
Right from the book’s first pages, Susan is straightforward and honest about how difficult it is to remarry and get it right; in fact, 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce, and that’s often because couples bring their baggage from the first marriage into the second. Just because they leave the first marriage doesn’t mean they leave behind the problems. Susan is honest that she herself had to come to terms with the fact that she was the common denominator in her failed relationships, so she had to do some work on herself if she wanted to find her forever partner. That means that “remarrying right” isn’t about just finding Mr. or Mrs. Right, but making yourself into the person that Mr. or Mrs. Right will want to be with.
I also appreciated Susan’s spiritual perspective in regard to relationships. She doesn’t see people who have several failed relationships as failures. She sees them as people who came into this life to learn specific lessons about relationships:
“If you were an ambitious soul, you may have decided to double major and take on a more challenging curriculum. Being married more than once indicates a heavier curriculum in the area of relationships. Why is it that way? It’s just what your soul took on as an area for major growth, transformation, and deep change. It appears that we, in our human experience, don’t choose those more challenging areas, but from a soul perspective, in my opinion, we do. If marriage is the curriculum area we took on for the most growth and evolution, then it is important to make it about you rather than the ‘horrible people’ you have chosen previously. It is important to take full ownership of your experience and just go with it as a challenge to see how much you can grow and evolve.”
Susan goes on to dispel many myths people have about remarriage. My favorite one she dispels is that of the Brady Bunch myth about blended families. She states:
“Since almost half of remarriages involve children, many think bringing their children and mixing them with the children of the next spouse is going to look like the family on The Brady Bunch. Everyone will get along so well that you will be one big happy, peaceful, loving, conflict-free family. You may even get Alice as your live-in housekeeper.”
Of course, the truth is that all those extra people come with baggage of their own. Since parenting is a big skill that adults will often need to master if they plan to remarry, Susan walks readers through how to handle that as well as building relationships and setting boundaries with all the extra family members—yes, if you remarry, you will end up with exes, and new in-laws, and four sets of grandparents, and squabbling step siblings, and a whole lot more people, all of whom have feelings you will need to navigate. Susan gives helpful advice and exercises to aid people in working through these situations.
Finally, perhaps the most helpful aspect of this book is that Susan asks her readers to rethink how they use language and to understand that one person’s definition of a term may not be the same as someone else’s—terms like “monogamy” and “lying” being perfect examples. She wisely recommends that couples work through this book together so they can communicate better and be on the same page in determining what they mean in terms of specific terms and concepts; they will also learn how to express their feelings in ways that will get them to where they want to be without arguments and misunderstandings. In the end, all this effort will lead to what Susan calls “wholistic intimacy,” which allows for intimacy in multiple ways and provides an overall fulfilling flow of intimacy in the marriage.
Remarrying Right is a refreshingly honest, helpful, and open-minded book on relationships. I think everyone would benefit from reading this book—not just people thinking of remarrying or who are newly remarried, but even first marriage couples, teenagers entering the dating scene, in-laws, and everyone who knows a remarried couple and wants to understand them and help them to succeed.
For more information about Susan Ortolano and Remarrying Right, visit the author’s website.