10/19/2011 12:43 pm ET Updated Dec 19, 2011

The Odds are Against Women Who Marry Divorced Men

Statistically for men, second marriages fail at a much higher rate than first marriages. The reason is simple, and it's critical every woman contemplate it before marrying a divorced man. Many men fail to glean the lessons from their failed marriages and consequently never heal their wounds. Many aren't even aware they're the walking wounded. Boomer women might consider not wasting time and energy in doomed relationships with zombies who are just going through the motions.

Why don't more men work through their anger and pain after divorce? Most don't know how to, where to, or even what it means to work through it. What I offer is experiential information gleaned over twenty years working with men in small groups.

Individual therapy can help a man move beyond his pain and anger. But that's generally a long, drawn-out process, and its success heavily depends on the caliber of the therapist. Considering the cost, and that a relatively small percentage of therapists are competent, that's just rolling the dice. There's far too much credence given to therapy as the universal solution for resolving divorce issues. What I offer is a better, tried and true method for men to work through their pain and anger from divorce, and it's absolutely free.

In the first year that my men's group met, four of the eight men divorced. While that sounds like a disaster scenario, that fifty-percent number accurately reflects the national percentage for divorce. No one encouraged these men to divorce, but what they had, that few other men have, was an unconditional peer support system. When men raged against the women they felt wronged them, they were encouraged instead to talk about the pain they were experiencing that was behind that rage.

The men encouraged each other to talk about their divorce issues until they were able to clearly see their roles in their failed marriages. For two men this was a fairly rapid process. For two men who avoided dealing with their pain, healing, not surprisingly, remained elusive. In the end, the two men who had focused on their behavior were ready to date. The other two who chose to ignore their behavior and blame their ex-wives instead, didn't move past their pain. They were more interested in finding women to comfort them, which of course, is a guarantied recipe for relationship disaster.

All four men remarried. The two who had worked through their divorce issues married terrific women who appreciated that their new partners had come into their relationships healed and emotionally whole. Their marriages remain solid nearly two decades later. The two men who hadn't worked through their divorce issues were not surprisingly, the first to remarry. One divorced in under a year. The other remains in a dysfunctional marriage. You can lead a horse to water, but...

What kind of man ignores the truth about his emotional well-being and forges ahead blindly? A man who's okay with inflicting his relationship issues on his next wife, not a particularly desirable wedding gift. If you're a woman thinking about marrying a divorced guy, particularly a recently divorced guy, think again, unless you know with some certainty he's done the healing work.

Whether you're a man or a woman, ignoring the obvious and hoping for the best seems foolish considering the amount of available, worthwhile relationship information. Over 50 men and women are too seasoned and experienced to simply ignore the statistics. I strongly believe there's great magic in marriage, but it's the kind of magic that's relies on careful choices, not pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

The numbers aren't in your favor if you throw caution to the wind and proceed glibly. Want to know where he is in the divorce healing process? Ask him, and listen carefully to his answer, and then decide whether or not you feel he's a good bet. Considering the brutal second-marriage, male divorce statistics, that just seems smart.