One of the best things about a second marriage is that you go in with your eyes wide open.
“I don’t believe in ‘OK,’ ‘decent,’ or ‘solid’ marriages. I’m against them. I believe only in great marriages, and that you should expect and reach for no less.” – M. Gary Neuman (licensed psychotherapist, rabbi, and author).
The phenomenon of the “starter marriage” was strange to me, which seemed to gain prominence in the mainstream media as I was in the first year of my first marriage. I never thought that a failed marriage could ever happen to me—and I was shocked when it did. I searched high and low for answers after my separation and divorce. I went through a pretty deep depression and got therapy. I definitely had a spiritual awakening and a renewed understanding of myself, and then I finally understood.
Nobody wants to get divorced if they don’t have to, and anyone who’s been through divorce knows it’s a hellish journey. I was immature. Somehow after a 13-year courtship, I was completely unaware of the seriousness and responsibility of marriage. The first year of divorce is like a nausea-inducing roller coaster ride that never ends. Everything you ever believed about yourself and your world is challenged. It’s not for the faint at heart. And I didn’t even have kids at the time. So given that experience, you’d imagine it would take a lot to venture into the matrimonial waters again.
Because I’d done such a poor job at marriage before, I really doubted myself. The statistics on the large number of second marriages that fail are frightening. After my divorce, although I wasn’t averse to another long-term commitment, having a family, or even just shacking up, I swore I’d never remarry. I just wasn’t sure if I believed in it anymore, wasn’t sure I could trust myself to truly put a relationship or union above myself, wasn’t sure if I had what it took to make it work.
I didn’t know what “it” was that people had who managed to stay married for 20, 30, 40, 50 years—would I ever have it? I protected my fragile post-divorce ego from having to deal with all of that by saying to my boyfriend: Lets just live together—this is working now, let’s not mess it up.
At that time, “marriage” had negative connotations for me. I was so sure about my partner at the time, however, that one snowy day in February; we decided to get matching tattoos (I’ll never forget that day, mostly because it was the same day Britney Spears shaved her head). That was as permanent as I was willing to go. I knew that no matter what the future held for us, I wouldn’t regret the tattoo because I was a better, stronger, more mature, and more compassionate woman for what I’d been through with him and for that I’d always be grateful. I imagined that if we ever broke up, I’d look at the tattoo fondly and recall all of the good times we’d shared.