Can a person get remarried too many times?
I know a guy about my age who has been remarried 7 times. He says that he will do it again if he needs to. Is he insane, or is he really just in love with the punishment? After the first few times, wouldn’t you just get a divorce from the whole idea of marriage?
I expected him to be bitter and cynical, but he’s not… he’s enjoying himself. In fact, he says that he has learned some things from all of this and he would not change anything.
“Most of the remarriages are my fault,” he told me.
He actually changed his vows after the first few remarriages were under his belt. He now says “Till death do us part… And forgive me for everything I’m about to say and about to do. Amen”
“It’s not remarriage, it’s recycling love,” he calls it re-loving. Re-loving? I was fascinated by his 18 year journey. He and I sat down and we went through each of his 7 remarriages one by one.
He calls it 7 Ways to Recycle Love and Save the Planet:
Marriage #1: The Yea! Marriage – He loved the honeymoon, all shiny and new. New kettles, new places for the toothbrushes, a new microwave and new sheets. Tucking each other into bed at night was the best new thing. Yea! That’s marriage!
Marriage #2: The Uh, Yes Dear Marriage – He woke up at about year two and realized that the honeymoon was over and it’s chore time. He said it was miserable at first because his wife tried to retrain him to keep the house clean the way she likes it. He worked hard at the chores, because he figured that keeping her happy was the way to soften her up. He didn’t mind this marriage, because they still tucked each other in at night.
Marriage #3: The Oh Dear! Marriage – At year four, he realized this is it. This is as good as it gets. He couldn’t change his wife and she couldn’t change him. So they settled into routines, chores, cook and clean, pay the bills, shop at Ikea. It was comfortable, but not satisfying.
Marriage #4: The Uh Oh! Marriage – His fourth marriage was a bad one. It kicked in (and kicked him where it hurts) at about year seven. He realized that if this is marriage, he does not want anything to do with it. He got a real glimpse of who his wife really was. He couldn’t believe that he’d married this woman. He thought about leaving, but looking through his piles of stuff made him rethink things.
“When I through all of my clutter,” he said, “I realized that this was a woman who was sticking with me, even though I am a pig sometimes. If she sticks with me at my worst, this marriage might be pretty good.”
Marriage #5: The Uhh Marriage – In this marriage, he just tuned it all out. After the mess of Marriage #4, he saw himself and his wife for who they really are. It changed him to admit that he is messy, insensitive and that he avoids things; that she can be demanding, she can fixate on a clean house and she can disregard his feelings sometimes.
“At my age I know how hard it is to change myself, and by now I have figured out that I can’t change her. So I checked out. If change is this hard, why bother?”
Marriage #6: The Okay, You have a Point (and so do I) Marriage – He says it took him 6 marriages and almost 13 years to get the point. He still finds change really hard, but now he is better at admitting when he is wrong. He thinks more often about what she needs rather than just his own needs. And he has figured out a few better ways to tell her what is on his mind so that she can figure it out too.
Marriage #7: The Common Enemy Marriage – This marriage brought him right back to Marriage #2. Only this time, they didn’t fight about cleaning up the house. They fought about trying to clean up their teenage kids. Parenting nearly tore up their marriage, trying to parent kids who talk back, assert themselves, fight with each other, complain and expect to be waited on. What saved them was realizing who the enemy really is and accepting each other where they are at: They are better at hearing each other out now.
He said, “I figured out that I ether pray every day or else I may end up drinking. And prayer is cheaper than drinking.” His daily marriage prayer:
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Love, Remarriage and Recycling
That man, the 7 marriage wonder, is me. My wife and have been married for almost 18 years now. And I have learned one thing: The importance of remarrying the same woman, over and over. It took me this long to realize that most of it is just my own stuff. I have learned to re-love, to forgive and to accept my wife… and myself. If I would have married a different woman each time, I probably wouldn’t make it past marriage #2 with any of them (or even myself).
Each time I fall in love with her again, my love get’s deeper and more real. I understand a little more about how love makes you become real: bald, worn thin with pieces falling off, but loved.
“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby.
But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Keep it real
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