At the time of my first marriage, my new husband and I had been engaged for a year. We'd lived together for three years. We had a house and two dogs. We were comfortable in our life together, and marriage seemed like the next logical step.
I was twenty-five years old. I thought it was the right thing because marriage is what you do when you're a grownup. And by the ripe old age of twenty-five, my husband and I pretty much had our lives figured out.
As it turned out, I was wrong.
Not long after saying our vows, our world opened up, and circumstances changed. As a result, each of us grew. I changed my mind about having children, and he changed his mind about how to raise them. It didn't take long before our partnership was painfully inappropriate.
So, we got divorced. And it was beautiful.
More than ten years after my divorce, I'm a different person than I was when I got married. And, I recently got married again. This time, it's different.
- This time, I didn't compare myself to other "grownups" (whatever that means). For both me and my husband (who's also been married before), this was not a rite of passage. It was something we wanted to do for reasons unique to us.
- This time, I did the proposing, and neither of us wears a single diamond.
- This time, I wrote every word of the ceremony, wore a second-hand dress, and carried a candle instead of a bouquet.
I also didn't make that promise. Instead of vowing "til death do us part," we both promised to let go with respect in the event that our partnership becomes inappropriate.
So far, Marriage #2 is far less traditional and far more realistic. I know myself better this time around, and my communication skills have improved quite a bit over the past decade. I've also matured to the point where I employ more compassion and cooperation and less competition in my relationships. These details are far from romantic, but I think they're equally important to consider.
Beyond a "respectful partnership," I'm not attached to an expectation of what marriage is "supposed" to be. I really don't know what the future holds, and I have no idea how long my marriage will last. But today is good, and we'll re-evaluate again tomorrow. One day at a time, you know… that's really all any of us can do.