When I was a kid, no one knew what divorce was. Well, some people did. My parents did, in fact. I was rather oblivious to the concept that I am now well aware of. I promised myself that when I got married, it would be forever. One time. Guess what happened? Yep, divorce. Half of my marriages have ended in divorce. That sounds horrible, but I’ve only been married twice. Why is it so hard to stay together? What is everyone’s problem? Geez! I know what my problems were, but I’m not sure what everyone else is going through. Before I was divorced I assumed those divorced people were stupid. They did a dumb thing and blindly married someone they didn’t even love! Ok, I was wrong. Sometimes the journey of life takes twists, and we don’t have the proper footwear.
I met my first husband in high school. I was 15, he was 18. Was it love at first sight? Not really. He was the first boy who paid attention to me. Oh, and he made me laugh. A lot. I watched him stress about getting into college while I was blissfully enjoying my sophomore year of high school. It never occurred to me that he would go away. But go away, he did. Oh boy, his departure was the stuff Lifetime movies are made of. Hugging, crying, carrying on…I was a wreck for weeks. My boyfriend was off to college…for 11 years! Well, of course we saw each other every few months and for Christmas and sometimes Spring Break. As his life was going in the right direction, mine was going in the wrong direction. I was pretty convinced when I was 19 that I was going to marry this guy, so I just had to wait it out. I got through high school and stumbled my way through a couple years of college.
One day I got tired of being alone and found a jerk of a boy to hang around with. I broke up with my long-time guy to have someone local. Luckily, he treated me like garbage and I got out of that situation in a few months. That’s another story for another day. My long-time beau and I remained friends and when he came home to visit, it was like we were still a couple. When things got financially horrifying for me, my guy would sometimes come to the rescue as I sobbed to him over a pay phone. (Yep, they still had those then.) He would order me a pizza from another state and send me a little cash to tide me over.
When he would come home, usually for a weekend or week, it was like a vacation. We were constantly out eating at nice restaurants, going to concerts and shopping. Life was wonderful when he was around, but then he would leave again. After a few years of dating other people, some more serious and meaningful than others, we decided to officially get back together. Three of his graduations later, he was a doctor and I was a college drop out. Great news! He’s coming home for good!
It was exciting at first to set up a new place to live in together and get to know each other again. We knew a marriage was coming, but it was really up to him when. The big day arrived and we were engaged. He came up with a nice idea to propose and presented me with a beautiful ring. First red flag, we just got engaged moments ago, yet we have nothing to talk about for the rest of dinner. Hmmm…interesting. Never mind.
Planning a wedding can be really fun, especially when you’re not worried about money. I busied myself picking flowers and tablecloths and sampling foods. Our wedding day happened during a massive snow storm. Like planes sliding off the runway storm. After the ceremony and right as we were arriving to the reception, we got into a big fight. He said something exceptionally stupid to me after he told our limo driver to drop us off a block away from the reception in a blizzard. I told him to never speak to me that way again and blah, blah, blah…Not a good start.
Ok, we’re married now! This is gonna be great, right? Not so much. He had a good job and I stayed home all day. All I had to do was make dinner. After awhile, I didn’t even do that anymore. I was so bored and I had no direction or motivation. He would leave early to get to work and come home in the evening only to ignore me. He would sit and read the newspaper, (yeah, a newspaper!) and then fall asleep. Every single night. Paper. Sleep. I would wake him up to tell him to go to bed. I was miserable. I told my husband that I wanted something more. I wanted to talk with him and go out and explore the world. I told him that when I would watch romantic movies I felt sad that I didn’t have a love like that. He was quick to tell me that the romantic love depicted in movies just wasn’t real. I was crazy to think that every day would be wonderful. It would be nice if any day was wonderful, though. Yeah, he really said crazy.
Well, as you can imagine, things went sour. We tried marriage counseling, but I was already checked out. I think he was trying, but it was too late. I’d like to add that he is a very good man and a very nice person. I did love him for a long time. I still miss him, but I couldn’t settle. I didn’t need him to rescue me anymore and maybe that made him less appealing to me.
It’s interesting how fate works sometimes. As my marriage was falling apart in an ugly fashion, I met the man of my dreams. Being a little older and a little wiser, I entered into this marriage with my eyes open. It just feels different and better. Of course not every single day is filled with romance, but a lot of days are. I’m not interested in anyone else. No one has turned my head at all. I’m not sure who has a perfect relationship, but this one’s pretty good and it’s certainly worth working on.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, I was wondering why some people stay together and why some people part ways. Sometimes when I’m thinking of a new idea to write about, I’ll take a poll on Facebook. I asked, “What is a tool to a successful marriage?” I was surprised that I received many replies. Here’s the funny thing: most people, I’d say about 90% of people replied with, “Communication.” Ok, that’s not funny by itself, but what was funny is that most people replied without taking the time to read what anyone else had written. We all think communication is important, but maybe we don’t know how to do it. A big part of communication is listening. Another big part is paying attention. I think part of the reason my first marriage failed is that I wasn’t communicating well with myself. I wasn’t paying attention to the signs at all. I had major doubts a week before my wedding, but ignored them. I wasn’t happy with how our life was proceeding, but I ignored it. I didn’t allow myself to be heard and my first husband wasn’t offering any information either, until it was too late.
Maybe you’ve heard it said that in order to be in love with someone else, you have to first love yourself. Part of loving yourself is listening to your own thoughts and acknowledging them. When appropriate, why not share those thoughts with your loved one? I tell my husband all the time that we’re a team and we’re in this life together. That means good times and bad times. We have also established that neither one of us is a mind-reader. I still feel butterflies in my stomach when I know I’m going to see him. He’s the first person I think of when I wake up and the last person I think of before I go to sleep. When I watch those romantic movies now, my eyes are full of tears because I know exactly how they feel. Who knows, maybe someone will make a movie about me. I’m sure they’d get Kate Winslet to play me.