FIFTY

Marriage Advice From The Divorced Can Teach Midlifers About Saying 'I Do' A Second Time

01/25/2013 07:09 am ET

With the divorce rate in the United States hovering between 30 percent and 50 percent, it's not surprising that there are an awful lot of midlifers questioning their broken relationships while trying to figure out where they went wrong so that they might do things differently the next time around.

One study of married couples could help. Terri Orbuch, author of "Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship," has been following 373 couples since their marriages in 1986. The therapist and professor of sociology at Oakland University recently analyzed data on those couples in the study who divorced -- 46 percent -- and the 71 percent of those who went on to remarry or develop long-term relationships. She's released her findings from the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to highlight what behaviors have a significant impact on whether or not a divorced person will find a new love.

"There were many surprising things that came out of this study but one was that those divorced singles who felt emotionally neutral about their ex -- they weren't pining away or angry -- were almost two times more likely to find new love again," Orbuch told Huff/Post50. "These were people who didn't feel much of anything at all towards their ex-spouses ... they were able to meet someone again."

Perhaps not so surprising to some is that those divorced people who were "optimistic" were more likely to enter into new relationships.

"I think this was interesting to me because it was so significant ... it really popped out as a finding," Orbuch said. "The idea of being positive wasn't just an afterthought but it was a very significant finding."

She noted that the average age of the couples when they got married in 1986 was 23 for the women and 25 for the men, meaning most of the participants are over 50 today.

So what are the five specific behaviors Orbuch has singled out that made the divorced people in her study twice as likely to develop a successful new relationship?

  1. Change habits. "People who cut their hours at work drastically or who added an exercise routine or who began to take their lunch outside the office rather than inside ... these are all little habits or routines. ... but when you change things up just a little, you are more likely to find new love," Orbuch said.
  2. Seek advice or talk to others. "Singles who seek advice or who talk to others about their breakup or divorce -- and who tried to find out information or advice from others -- were again more likely to find new love. Doing this allows you to get a fresh perspective and, again, gets you out of your regular routine," Orbuch said.
  3. Find a new way to talk about money. "People definitely identified their own approach to money as a factor in their relationships and then decided to change the way they talked about money," Orbuch said. "Many or most pepole have a difficult time talking to others about money. Those who did that -- who figured out if they are spenders or savers and then opened up more with others about this -- were better able to find new love."
  4. Improve communication. "Divorced singles made efforts to share more about their feelings with new partners ... or to try and figure out how to do that in their next relationship. Those who changed or improved how they communicated with others were significanly more likely to find new love," Orbuch said.
  5. Handle conflict better. "Those people who found new love again said they made efforts or learned how to handle disagreements or manage tension better. They actively tried to figure out how to do that whether it be learning how to control their anger or how to manage their ex," Orbuch said.

What do you think? Let us know your own tips in the comments section below!

Earlier on HuffPost50:

Where To Meet Singles Over 50
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