Review

Surprised by Remarriage: A Guide to the Happily-Even-After

by Ginger Kolbaba

Anyone knows that divorce is rampant and the odds are long for any marriage to survive. Those odds are even longer for a second marriage or remarriage. As author Ginger Kolbaba says, "Some statistics show that 76 percent of second marriages, 87 percent of third marriages and 93 percent of fourth marriages will fail within five years…If the divorce rate for remarriage is so high, we need to have our eyes wide open to be aware of what obstacles could doom our marriage and take every precaution to avoid them."

For several years, I've personally known Kolbaba because of her day job as the managing editor at Marriage Partnership magazine. Her passion to write a book on this topic came from recognizing a need, but I didn't know her personal experience with this subject. Kolbaba is married for the first time, but it's a second marriage for her husband, Scott. With revealing and personal stories, Ginger talks about the obstacles and the joys of remarriage.

The book includes three major sections. The first section includes an examination of the past and how you can make your remarriage work and beat the forces against it. It's important to recognize the death of your first marriage, grab hold of the God factor of grace, grieve the loss of the past, and deal with the societal stigma of divorce and remarriage. Each chapter mixes a balance of personal experience combined with truth from the Bible and stories of others.

The second section explores the minefield of relationships outside your spouse. The individual chapters explore key material such as how to set boundaries for your ex and how to handle the "bonus" children from a previous marriage. Another chapter explores the area of friends. Kolbaba explains what happens to those friendships and how to understand when they disappear and go with your ex.

The third and final section looks at the issues between you and your spouse. The major relational issues are examined with separate chapters on communication, sex, money and then everything else.

I'm sure you've heard of the happily ever after ending. Kolbaba takes a different twist on these words with the book's subtitle, "a guide to the happily even after." Yes, even after a divorce and remarriage, it is possible to be successful. The author freely admits that everyone has made mistakes, but God hasn't forgotten us and each reader has a vital role to play in God's plans. The final portion of each chapter includes a brief "even after" to give the reader a pointed nugget of truth.

Kolbaba reveals her vulnerability and hopes in the opening pages of this well-written book, "Some things you read in these pages may challenge, anger, or frustrate you. That's okay. I've struggled to process some of this information too! Just promise yourself you'll enter each chapter with an open mind and heart." Because I'm also on a journey of remarriage, I recognized the truth throughout these pages and found myself highlighting and nodding in agreement. While the content is practical, it touches the heart. I recommend this book to anyone in a remarriage, or to pastors and counselors who work with remarried couples.

Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin on March 1, 2006

Surprised by Remarriage: A Guide to the Happily-Even-After
by Ginger Kolbaba