A French proverb describes marriage like a fortress besieged: those who are in want out, and those who are out want in.
The never-ending cycle spurs serial divorces. Sharyn Wolf, the nationally acclaimed psychotherapist and best-selling author of six books, recently completed her latest self-help book, How To Have Your Second Marriage First. Sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, but multiple statistics report that second and third marriages have higher divorce rates compared to first divorces in the U.S.
“I think people don’t know what is being asked of them and by the time [they’re in] the third marriage, they’re too tired,” Wolf said. “You only go as far in a marriage as you are willing to go with yourself.”
In How To Have Your Second Marriage First, Wolf gives 52 tips that successfully married couples practice to stay together. Some are complex and some are easy, she said. She revealed a few of her book’s suggestions:
- Think in threes. “What’s good for you? What’s good for me? What’s good for the relationship?”
- Talk about sex. It’s OK if you’re not having it as often, but it’s important to keep talking about it until you figure out what works. When couples stop talking about sex, resentment builds up and it leads to other windows of opportunity.
- Spend as much time planning for the marriage, not just the wedding.
Wolf’s agent is seeking a publisher for the book.
“You really need to be a grown-up in a marriage,” Wolf said. She married at 18, 24 and again at 39. The marriage to her third husband with whom she had sex with only three times in the 13 years they were together, inspired her to write a confessional, Love Shrinks: A Memoir of A Marriage Counselor’s Divorce (Soho Press, 2011). Wolf exposed gut-wrenching details from a traumatic childhood to an unfulfilled marriage.
“It was a big fear of mine,” Wolf, 63, said. “My agent asked me, are you sure? I said I was. I really wanted to do it.” She said it was important to show writers she could do more than a self-help book, and, to her patients, Wolf showed she was human, not just a therapist.
When the hardcover published in 2011, critics accused Wolf of lying to Oprah as her relationship expert, because she told the daytime talk show host that she was in a happy marriage. (Watch the interview with Fox News Insider below.)
Oprah never called Wolf to discuss the media criticism. “She knew I hadn’t lied,” Wolf said.
Wolf has been a psychotherapist and marriage counselor for nearly 23 years and sees most of her patients in her Upper West Side apartment. She knows her patients have read the book but not one has commented on the book to her, probably out of respect, Wolf said.
Wolf said she would like to marry again, but she doesn’t miss that desire to wake up next to someone. “I love sleeping alone in my bed with my dog and cat.”
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