Having recommended {couples} for greater than 30 years and performed unique analysis, Terry Gaspard is aware of the pitfalls and the landmines. Unfinished enterprise with exes (and different outdated baggage), pressures of coping with debt and dealing with cash, mixing households, discovering time and house for intercourse, managing battle, and extra can pressure second marriages to the breaking level.

The Remarriage Manual is a fruits of Gaspard’s work—offering insights, tales, and instruments that she’s used to direct numerous remarried {couples} towards lasting happiness (together with her personal). The submit beneath is an excerpt from The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around.

According to consultants, the commonest motive {couples} fall out of love and cease being sexually intimate is due to a pursuer-distancer dynamic that develops over time. Sue Johnson identifies this sample because the “protest polka,” and says it’s one among three “demon dialogues.” She explains that when one associate turns into crucial and aggressive, the opposite usually turns into defensive and distant. John Gottman’s analysis on 1000’s of {couples} reveals that companions who get caught on this sample within the first few years of marriage have greater than an 80 % probability of divorcing within the first 4 or 5 years. 

Why is that this relationship sample so frequent? Gottman discovered that males are likely to withdraw and ladies are likely to pursue when they’re in intimate relationships. Further, he explains that these tendencies are wired into our physiology and mirror a fundamental gender distinction. In his basic “Love Lab” observations, he notes that this dynamic is extraordinarily frequent and is a significant contributor to marital break-down. He additionally warns us that if it’s not modified, the pursuer-distancer dynamic will persist right into a second marriage or subsequent intimate relationships. 

Partners in intimate relationships are likely to blame the opposite individual when their wants usually are not being met. A pursuer-distancer dance follows, which intensifies the dynamic. Couples report having the identical fights repeatedly. After some time, they’re now not addressing the difficulty at hand and a vicious cycle of resentment, frustration, and anger develops and by no means will get resolved. 

While all {couples} want autonomy and closeness, many companions battle with the pursuer-distancer dance and really feel chronically dissatisfied with their diploma of intimacy. When the sample of pursuing and distancing turns into ingrained, the habits of 1 associate provokes and maintains the habits of the opposite. It’s regular to really feel a way of disappointment when your need for emotional and sexual intimacy doesn’t match your associate’s, and a pursuer-distancer dynamic can develop within the bed room. While this dynamic is without doubt one of the most typical causes of divorce, don’t panic! Lacking sexual intimacy is a standard battle for hard-working {couples} balancing jobs, parenting, and intimacy. 

In Wanting Sex Again: How to Rediscover Your Desire and Heal a Sexless Marriage, intercourse therapist Laurie J. Watson writes, “Most sexual concerns stem from an interpersonal struggle in the marriage.” She describes the tug-of-war between being too shut and too distant from a associate as a repetitive sample of 1 individual being the pursuer and one other being the distancer. 

In many instances, the distancer retreats and seeks out alone time when beneath stress, and this intensifies their associate’s want for closeness, thus their need to pursue. The drawback is that if this sample turns into deeply entrenched, neither individual will get their wants met. Sometimes a distancer realizes too late that their associate is severely distressed they usually have already began planning to finish their relationship. 


Let’s study how the pursuer-distancer dynamic normally works by taking a look at a typical state of affairs with Suzanne and Keith, whom you met earlier. Suzanne’s calls for for extra sexual intimacy are her method of motivating Keith to open up, so she will achieve reassurance from him. In this case, the ways in which Suzanne and Keith reply to one another backfire, making a damaging sample of interpersonal relating.

“Let’s talk about why we’re not spending time together anymore,” Suzanne complains, as her husband reads the newspaper and turns away from her bids for connection. She says, “How can we get along if we don’t work on our problems?” 

Keith responds, “I’m not sure what problems you’re talking about. We’re getting along okay. All couples go through hard times.” 

Suzanne feels more and more pissed off along with her makes an attempt to attract out Keith. Meanwhile, Keith resorts to his typical distancer technique, maybe stonewalling her makes an attempt to speak by giving her the silent remedy. As she continues to precise extra disappointment in Keith, he additional withdraws. If this sample isn’t reversed, it’s straightforward to see how they will each start to really feel criticized and develop contempt for one another — two of the foremost warning indicators that their marriage is doomed to fail, in accordance with John Gottman. 

It’s no surprise that lots of the interactions between {couples} turn into deadlocked within the pursuer-distancer dynamic. Partners can find yourself in a stalemate and are left feeling bitter and disillusioned about their marriage. Repair work begins with expressing your intent in a constructive method and taking duty in your half on this damaging cycle. This might be completed by saying issues equivalent to “I’d really appreciate it if you’d cook dinner tonight since I’m behind on projects at work and need to work late.”

Without recognizing it, many pursuers come on stronger than they intend to, not realizing that being within the “pursuit mode” might trigger their distant associate to withdraw much more. Likewise, by pulling again, a distancer might trigger their pursuer associate to pursue extra vehemently. Watson means that {couples} entrenched on this sample attempt switching roles to seek out out firsthand what it’s wish to stroll of their associate’s footwear. This generally is a option to improve empathy, consciousness, and probably even jump-start a brand new behavioral sample of initiating and responding to sexual advances out of your associate. In basic, most {couples} can steadiness their wants for closeness and separateness when it comes to sexual intimacy in the event that they develop extra vulnerability, compassion, and sensitivity to their associate’s wants, each inside and outdoors of the bed room. A superb first step is to determine extra emotionally clever dialogue that permits each folks to really feel heard and validated.

Dialogue to Grow Closer Together

Here is a attainable dialogue for remarried {couples} who need to find out about one another and develop collectively emotionally and sexually. 

Partner A: I really feel unnoticed while you don’t speak in confidence to me. I’d wish to know what you’re pondering once I share my emotions with you.

Partner B: It sounds such as you’d like me to share extra of my ideas with you while you’re speaking about your emotions. I can work on that.

Partner A: I really feel harm while you learn the paper once we’re consuming dinner as a result of I’d wish to study extra about your day and get near you.

Partner B: You’d like me to be extra engaged with you throughout dinner. I wasn’t conscious that your emotions had been harm. I do get drained within the night after working all day, however I’ll attempt to work together extra as a result of it’s necessary to you.

Partner A: When we’ve got loving intercourse, I really feel nearer to you. I’d like to speak about methods we will please one another sexually and each get our wants met. 

Partner B: I really feel nearer to you too, although it’s arduous for me to open up and speak about intercourse. Let’s attempt to discover methods we will each get our wants met sexually and be extra intimate.

Practiced day by day, this sort of dialogue will create a stronger emotional and sexual connection between you and your mate. Couples who spend not less than thirty minutes day by day in dialog with one another and specific love, affection, and admiration will foster a more in-depth bond and thrive each out and in of the sheets.

Excerpted from THE REMARRIAGE MANUAL by Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW. © 2020 Terry Gaspard. Reprinted with permission of Sounds True. All rights reserved.

TERRY GASPARDMSW, LICSW is a licensed therapist and writer. She is a contributor to Huffington Post, TheGoodMenProject, The Gottman Institute Blog, and Marriage.com. Her new e book, out now, is THE REMARRIAGE MANUAL: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around. Follow Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com

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