Point Of View
Multiple Marriages Can Make You Better At It!
by Leslie Nicholson
I’m considered to be an expert on marriage. After all, I’ve been married three times and divorced three times. In my mind that doesn’t make me an expert on marriage, it merely says I’ve had a lot of experience with the concept. Actually, I’m probably more of an expert on divorce. I managed my own proceedings two times out of the three.
It used to really embarrass me to tell people I’d been married and divorced three times. Now, it has become something of a joke among my circle of friends. To me, it’s not a joke. But I’m glad I can laugh about it anyway.
My first foray into matrimony was at 18. At the time I was young, naïve, lacking in experience, heavy on dreams and full of youthful enthusiasm. I believed in nice little houses on nice little streets; two great kids (a boy and a girl); and a husband that would take care of me and be my partner and helpmate for life. The images are not necessarily bad, but they are just that…Images…not real life. They don’t begin to tell the story of what marriage is really about.
I now marvel at the process by which two strangers – people from different backgrounds, different upbringings and persuasions, and on very different intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional levels-can come together, fall in love, marry, and live happily ever after in the never, never land of marital bliss. It is indeed unfortunate that all of this is accomplished in a complete state of ignorance. All you get to carry you through is on-the-job training, which according to the rising divorce statistics, is just not enough.
Unfortunately, I saw this process played out three times! The stories were all the same – just as enthusiastic, just as ideal. I let myself be swept away with the emotion only to be crashed later on the shores of defeat and disillusionment. A marriage can last for a few days or an entire lifetime, depending on how serious, mature and realistic the partners are and how willing they are to bend, sway and adjust to make it work. We have to stop being unrealistic and painting marriage like a rose garden when it’s really unexplored territory that, with care and nurturing, can become a Garden of Eden.
Take it from me – after all, I know: Marriage is much more than just getting through a lovely ceremony and making a pretty picture together – it’s giving, caring, taking, sharing, loving, hating…
The Creator really meant for marriage to be an intense lifelong commitment. But modern life presents us with so many challenges and choices that carrying on a perpetually successful union with another human being is difficult, at best.
My second marriage was very different from my first. It was a rebound from a very painful and destructive love affair. I tried to escape into a marriage – as did my partner who’d had a similar experience.
We stayed together for exactly 30 days, finally recognizing our gross mistake. The lesson: Love and understand first yourself, for you can only validate your soul through another – not find it.
The third time I married, I finally learned the lesson that familiarity breeds contempt. My husband and I had had a torrid love affair and marriage was designed to be the finishing touch to a perfect affair. But, unfortunately, it didn’t work that way. The adjustment of making my private self a shared affair with him was more than I could bear.
I had been single too long between divorces. There were nights when I didn’t want to wear pretty lingerie. I missed my pajamas and my warm flannel gowns. There were days when I didn’t want to be pretty or bothered. Too many times I had to be “up” whether I felt like it or not and I had a dreaded fear of being discovered asleep with my mouth open. I missed the excitement of getting dressed for him and using every mirror in the house…when I was single. Now it seemed that everywhere I turned, there he was.
I’d feel guilty when I bought something new and often hid new purchases in the hall closet before stepping my foot in the door. I resented his things being all over my room. His likes and dislikes served to inhibit me and I began to revolve my life around his wants and his needs, as my mother had done before me.
However, as time and frustration would have it, it ended and I vowed never to do it again unless I had a guarantee that it would be different. Now I’m preparing to marry next month and my fiancé and I have agreed to the following. I know this works because my best girlfriend tried this philosophy and she raves about it.
- Separate bedrooms and baths.
- Sleeping together only when we’re ready and willing to be together.
- Respecting each other’s privacy, by knocking on closed doors.
- Freedom Week once a month, where one does as he or she pleases without having to give any explanation, even after the week is over.
- Setting up a budget for the household expenses with the financial responsibilities being divided in half. The remainder of our money to be spent as we choose.
- We shall continue to date as we did when we were single. Surprising each other with creative fun ventures, i.e., midnight boat rides, dining in exotic restaurants and picnics in the park for two, walks on the beach in the moonlight, etc. Date Night once a week.
- We also promised never to go to bed angry without expressing it, and making amends.
- We have decided to work hard to keep our love alive by having respect for our individuality, and we’re determined not to become a divorce statistic. He’s also been married and divorced three times, and he’s just as determined as I am.