Remarriage: More Expensive Than You Think
After working out at the gym for six months and shedding twenty pounds, I walked down the aisle wearing a mermaid style, off the shoulder, lace dress. I felt beautiful and couldn’t stop smiling. My fiancée, wore a blue pin-striped suit and looked every bit as handsome as the stereotype prince. He met me halfway down the aisle, took my arm and escorted me to the minister. Our wedding was beautiful – filled with love, promises and dreams. As the story goes, we’ll live happily ever after. I hope so. This is our second marriage.
The memories of our wedding day and its euphoric feelings fade as reality sets in – balancing work and a life together, meshing lifestyles, realizing our unsaid expectations are not being met, and what a surprise – the charming person I married has flaws. Then there are children – his and mine. Life is busier, more complicated. My husband, Larry, didn’t notice I changed my hair style or read the last story I wrote. The special feeling we shared seems to fade as we sit across the dinner table from each other, texting messages on our phones.
I remember my first marriage, which sadly died from neglect. Now I realize, I may be married to a wonderful man in my second marriage, but I traded one set of issues with my ex for another set of issues with my new husband. This includes his children.
Larry and I are definitely not one family – or a blended family. We have three camps – Larry and his kids, me and my kids, and Larry and I.
Different rules apply to both families because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Efforts to bring both families together regarding celebrating holidays, family traditions, birthdays, consistency in gift giving,, who pays for what…remain as done in our premarriage days because “that’s the way we always did it.” Now, we have a new way of doing things – kids who are determined to do things the way they always did it, or they stop participating in family gatherings.
I longed for the happy blended family, and hoped our kids would like each other. But our families don’t get together. After rejecting me several times, Larry’s twenty-nine-year old son finally said it – “You’re not family.”
Our divorces left our children damaged. After being divorced for seven years, my adult daughter said, “You don’t know how the divorce affected me, and I will never tell you.” So, there’s the continuing pain we passed on to our children by divorcing. We destroyed their security in being one family, and eventually destroyed their illusions that their parents would reunite in marriage. They don’t even know where mom or dad’s new spouse fit in. My thirty-three-year old daughter questioned my husband’s role in her life and said, “I know Larry is my stepdad, but I have a dad and don’t see Larry that way.”
I’ve learned that a second marriage is a chance for happiness, to get it right this time and to work at it. But I also realize there is a big loss with second marriage – actually, the loss starts with divorce. My second marriage denies me the richness of a long marriage with my original partner.
My sister and her husband, as well as Larry’s sister and her husband, enjoy over forty years of marriage. That’s forty years of ups and downs, taking a break from each other, and rekindling their marriages and commitment. That’s growing up together, raising kids and having a family that is in tack. And there’s the lifetime goals that only one marriage people have – building a home, planning for retirement, working toward and reaching goals, celebrating their children’s milestones…memories of fun, challenges and humorous times – experiences that creates the intimacy and connectiveness of being a family.
I didn’t realize marriages take work until I remarried. I didn’t work at my first marriage. Actually, my ex-husband and I let it unfold any which way. Like an untended garden, the flowers died. And here we are – divorced.
Larry and I are remarried for the second time. And it has opened our eyes about our children. Some children don’t recover from their parents’ divorce, and they hold on to the dream that their parents will remarry.
We also cheated ourselves out of having a richer life by working through our problems during our first marriages. I once heard the best thing you can give your kids is having a good marriage.
Sometimes the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. But both sides have weeds. And the combination of experiences from first and second marriages brings a new set of exotic weeds.
I’ve been remarried for three years to a good man. He’s not a perfect; neither am I. With our failed marriages behind us, we’re committed to make our marriage work.
I remember an interesting comment I heard during my high school days. While working as a waitress, an older, married waitress took me home after work. One night she said, “Marriage has its ups and downs. But there’s nothing like it when things are going smoothly.”
Michele Sprague, a Michigan-based writer, wrote stories for corporate magazines and newsletters, as well as other publications. She also wrote the book, Single Again 101. (portfolio.michelesprague.com)