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.
And then it hit me. This is what I was looking for. I really wanted to get married again.
He must have been thinking the same thing, because about two weeks later, he proposed. We were engaged for about a year and half before we got married, so we had lots of time to think about what it meant to us and what exactly our union was to be about.
There are a lot of storms in a second marriage (especially if there are first family’s to prioritize). Being able to reflect and grow and learn so much more about yourselves and each other as you go through the storms is an incredible experience. It’s the time for not holding anything back, for being honest even when it hurts. Who the hell has time for holding back when you’re on marriage number two?
We expect the best from each other, but we also hold out the most compassion for each other, and the combination has proven to be a winning one so far. There’s no time for being unsure, for not knowing if you should say something or not, for not standing up for your spouse, for not being your absolute best for your family, for not doing everything imaginable to make your marriage and family work. My husband came with two kids, and when there are kids involved, the responsibility is even greater.
One of the best things about a second marriage is that you go in with your eyes wide open. Now that I’m in a second marriage, I totally understand the failure rate of first marriages. Truly sharing your heart and soul with someone can be very difficult. Nevermind the minefield of blending children, managing or supporting multiple households, in-laws and step-in-laws. It makes me more determined than ever to make sure we succeed, a determination that I did not have, or know I needed to have, the first time.
The quote from M. Gary Neuman is now my mantra. For me, for my husband, and for our children, we make sure that we have a great marriage. We reach for and expect no less.
Christina Crowe is a 30-something senior sales consultant, as well as a Certified Coach and Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology candidate. She lives north of Toronto with her husband, their son, two stepsons, and new puppy. Follow her on Twitter at: @CndCounsellor, Instagram at: @christina_crowe and at www.christinacrowe.ca