Monday, July 16, 2012

The Question of Marrying Again After Divorce(s)

I was 51 the second time I got married. Now I'm 58 and divorced about 4 months after that nearly-7-year marriage ended amicably. Believe it or not, you can now get an uncontested divorce using paperwork downloaded from the Internet and without using lawyers. It can be completed in under 4 months for just a few hundred dollars. The state of Pennsylvania (where I live) makes it that easy to legally end a least one between older spouses with no child custody issues to address. And my first divorce was fairly effortless as well, completed in about 8 months, even though we had children ages 4 and 9 and had lawyers look over our final agreement. So, why have I not been absolutely sure I'd want to get married again? I'm a commitment-type person who truly believes in the kind of deep connection that marriage embodies and in being faithful to one special person. As a hopeless romantic, it warms my heart to see the beautiful bond that can grow and blossom over the years between spouses--something I'd really love to experience, since neither of my marriages was like that. And, as my own past has shown me, it's not that challenging or traumatizing to get a divorce if you handle it in an amicable way. So what am I really feeling? Well, I've been soul-searching about this question recently, and I've come to a conclusion: I think I'm having a knee-jerk reaction to those 2 experiences where the state told me what the standard "rules" were about dissolving a marriage even though every marriage and every couple is different. And there's a part of me that rebels against that. Yet, thinking back on it, I realize that my former spouses and I actually did navigate the divorce process in our own unique way, rather than the state's way. The first time, we wrote our own agreement without lawyers. The second time, we used no lawyers at all. So what issue am I really grappling with? I'm not entirely sure. But, lately, I'm wondering if my reluctance to embrace the idea of marriage has reflected not rebelliousness or the fear of another divorce...but a deeper fear of not trusting my own judgment in choosing a spouse...and then having to live through the heartbreak of another long-term committed relationship ending, where in the eyes of society, I'm again a "divorcee"--a role that makes me somewhat ashamed. Today, I notice that my heart and mind are asking: "What if I find a man who feels strongly about being married and, for various reasons, prefers that over living together?" Would I be open to marrying again? The answer I'm now leaning toward is "yes". After my first marriage, I was SURE I wanted to get married again to see if I could be smarter and more successful the second time around. I guess part of me felt like I'd failed, and I wanted to prove to myself I could "get it right". This time, it's not about that. It's about wanting to be SO sure I'm with the right person--a real "soul mate connection"--that I deeply feel we're already married in our hearts. That, I believe, would spur me to want to be married in the eyes of society too. My mom and her 3rd husband Bob are a good example of that type of marriage. They were both raised Catholic and are daily churchgoers who value the "sacrament" of marriage, and each was widowed twice. After his second wife died, Bob (who knew my mom over 40 years because he was a high school friend of her first husband--my dad--and also our family's dentist)asked my sister where my mom was living, and they started dating. Five months later, at ages 72 and 78, they were married. And they are one of the happiest couples I know. It's truly heart-warming to see them together. As I tell my dating coaching clients all the time, it can happen at any age, so never say never. Now, I'm feeling more ready to envision such a magical and wonderful partnership(and yes, marriage) for myself. I can even envision being married for the rest of my life (which, if I live into my late 80s, would be 30 years--almost twice as long as my first marriage!)How cool is that?! If you're divorced one or more times, I'd love to hear your take on this!