Love, logistics and fresh beginnings: readers on the reasons they remarried | Relationships

Once upon a time, a misstep down the aisle was a life sentence. But since no-fault divorce laws were introduced in Australia nearly 50 years ago, couples have been free to end ill-fated unions (after a separation of 12 months and one day) then toll those wedding bells again.

While it’s no longer uncommon to avoid the stress and expense of marriage altogether, for many the formality and fanfare remains seductive – even if it didn’t work out the first time.

Very few readers mentioned the religious significance of marriage when asked why they chose to do it more than once, yet it’s clear the institution still holds powerful sway, both socially and legally, with many readers motivated not only by romance and tradition but by the lingering bureaucratic benefits of making things official.

‘The family celebration was valuable’

I married my first boyfriend when I was just 21, but inevitably the relationship, which started when we were still legally children, couldn’t grow with us into adulthood. Hardly surprising. Ending the relationship was necessary so we could both secure far more functional, happy and satisfying partnerships as adults.

When my second husband and I decided to marry, we agreed that the family celebration of the wedding and vows was valuable. The maturity of this second significant relationship gave me immense confidence that I was actually well-matched to this most lovely individual.
Anonymous, Australia

‘I never wanted to be married again, until I met my current wife’

Marriage both means nothing and everything. On the one hand it is just a piece of paper. But on the other, it is a comfort to know that a commitment has been made.

I married for the first time at 21. We stuck it through my 15-year air force career, but the relationship was on life support for at least half that time.

I never wanted to be married again, until I met my current wife. I’ve always believed that a marriage doesn’t fix a bad relationship and you don’t need marriage to have a great relationship. But she and I share such common ideas around how relationships should work, it was easy to try again.

She was in the US during the first year of the pandemic and since we were only engaged, I was in no legal position to help her had she got sick. So aside from showing a real commitment, being married still has benefits when navigating a blended family and living in different countries.
Rob, Tasmania

‘Without being married we would have found it difficult to move’

I married a New Zealand farmer in my early 20s, and have two, now grown-up children. My first marriage reached its use-by date after 32 years. I was not looking to remarry after separating in my early 50s.

But I unexpectedly reconnected with the first love of my life who I had known at Cambridge University in the UK. After corresponding for some months he flew to New Zealand and to our amazement we found our connection to be just as strong and delightful as it had been nearly 40 years before. We married in 2008, because without the formality of being married we would have found it difficult to move to Australia together, where we live now.

My husband is as interesting and delightful as he was when I knew him in Cambridge. I still find him as outrageously attractive as I did in 1970.
Anonymous, Australia

‘I wanted to erase the previous formal agreement’

For me it was a matter of: why should that previous person have had something formal with me, and we just have “partnership” status? I wanted to erase the previous formal agreement and replace it with a celebration of “Thank goodness, this is so much lovelier!”
Gretchen, New South Wales

‘It has been a long-term commitment, three times’

Marriage hasn’t been a lifetime commitment for me, but it has been a long-term commitment, three times. I still have a good relationship with my first husband as the father of my children, and didn’t choose to end the relationship with my wife, who passed away. I recently remarried and my new husband and I are very happy together.

When I was with my wife, marriage was particularly important as there were a range of legal protections that didn’t apply to us but did apply to heterosexual de facto couples. We did a lot of campaigning for marriage equality, including marrying in the ACT in 2013, which was overturned. So when I met my current husband, the importance of marriage remained prominent in my mind.

My husband is happy to be married, but I think it’s more significant to me. He is a man of his word and I feel very secure that, having made a formal commitment, he will stand by me for the rest of our lives.
Glenda, Australian Capital Territory

‘The second time I finally understood the question’

As an atheist without children, it’s harder to engage with rituals and ceremonies that celebrate you and your life, but there’s not much other than marriage that has the same gravitas, so marriage it was. Both times.

Getting married the second time I feel like I finally understood the question marriage was asking me and my response was more resolute and honest, leading to a much happier union.
Lee, Victoria

‘Hassle-free wills’

Two years after my divorce was finalised I had an unwedding. Complete with a new name, a ring, a dress, a promise (to myself) and even a reception to “undo the knot”. It was the best thing I ever did.

After a few years of sowing my wild oats, I met someone special.

I never wanted to get married again, but as an accountant who has been managing estate issues, he has noticed the most hassle-free wills/arrangements (especially in regards to superannuation) were with married couples, while de factos had a dreadful time.

He’s promised me nothing will change. “Don’t think of it as a wedding, but as a celebration,” he tells me. We’re getting married in May! But we won’t refer to each other as husband/wife – that’s the exes’ titles.
Lynda, New South Wales

Quotes have been edited for structure, clarity and length.

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