Monday, September 21, 2015

Thoughts on Remarriage

As some readers of this blog may know, I was married fairly recently.  What newer readers may not know is that this wasn't my first time.  It's just not something that people talk about, despite the statistics.  For example...
  • 41% of first marriages end in divorce, and most of those happen at 24 years of age or younger (raising my hand, pretty close)
  • People wait an average of three years after a divorce to remarry (raising my hand, again pretty close)
But this post isn't about the stats, or justifying my own decisions and actions in life.  It's about remarriage in general, and why it can be a perfectly normal, perhaps unexpected, part of life.  Because when you Google a topic like "thoughts on remarriage", you get a lot of judgmental and analytical views on the religious aspects of it, whether it's adultery, whether you should feel like a terrible human being.

And because I was guilty of Googling this when I was contemplating remarriage myself, it was extremely disappointing to find a lack of support out there for something that, realistically, was going to happen to tons of people.

It was also disappointing that there wasn't more of a celebration that people might be able to find love again, after going through something pretty darn terrible.  In my mind, people who get married WANT forever, and just because the first attempt is a bust doesn't preclude them from deserving to find it someday.

actual screenshot from my Google search, 1st page of results

Divorce SUCKS, y'all.  I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, because nothing in my life has felt so final or so permanent, with the exception of death.  Marriage is a wish and a hope, divorce is a finite end.  And no matter how good your intentions are going into a marriage, sometimes it isn't going to work out.  I don't respect people who are flippant about marriage, or divorce.  You don't want to be Kim K/Chris Humphries, you want to be Amy Poehler/Will Arnette.  But I do respect my fellow "divorce survivors" because it's an experience often marred with guilt and sadness and sometimes shame and embarrassment and feelings of utter failure.

But you know what?  Life goes on.

Damn skippy.  Because when you get divorced, initially you're feeling like this...

And people will make offhand comments about your divorce, single-ness, etc.
and make you feel like this...

Things that suck about remarriage...  I don't think there are a lot of things that suck (other than mean people), but I definitely felt some little moments of anxiety.  Like the fact that I had to dig up my divorce decree to get the legal paperwork done.  Or when people would assume it was my first wedding and try to give me all of these wedding tips and marriage advice, while in the back of my mind I was thinking about the years I was married before, or the professional counseling I'd already received.  They meant well, but it's challenging to just grin and bear it when you're anticipating diving into it all and irrationally scared you could screw it up all over again.  Because in case you didn't read it before, DIVORCE SUCKS.

Things that surprised me about remarriage...  People were excited for me.  They were authentically happy I had found love again, and they wanted to support our wedding and send gifts and celebrate.  I guess after my depressing Googling, I'd assumed that it would be a sort of non-event for anyone but me and Dan and our close family.  While a small wedding is what we wanted for ourselves, I'll admit that after having a big first wedding I was a bit gun-shy at the thought of doing it all again.  I felt a little guilt about my parents spending all that money on the first one, even after all these years.  But everyone was generous and loving.  It gave me renewed hope that this was a fresh start, not a do-over.  REPEAT: Remarriage is a fresh start, not a do-over.  Treat it that way!

I found the Jim to my Pam.

Things that make me optimistic about remarriage...  I was an ugly person at times in my first marriage, especially towards the end.  I was younger and more selfish.  I cared a lot more about what other people thought of me.  I wasn't ready, to be honest.

I believe that my first marriage, and my divorce, have made me a better partner overall, because I'm trying even harder as I know what's at risk.  I'm more deliberate and intentional.  Someone might judge me for saying that and not trying to put that energy into the first marriage, but hindsight is 20/20 and it took time to take me there... if something doesn't work, you don't repeat the same reactions and behavior.  You do it better.

And I felt better the day of my wedding to Dan than I had in years.  Possibly EVER.  I didn't see anyone else except for him that day, and in my head I saw us having kids and traveling and growing old together.  I saw my future, and it was clear to me, and nothing else mattered.  I still feel like that.  I cared so much less about the wedding this time, and so much more about the marriage.

These were two of the happiest, most optimistic days of my life.  That is evident and I'm not ashamed.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, BE YOU.  Make yourself vulnerable and open to love.  Don't self-impose guilt or restrictions on yourself as punishment.  Use your past mistakes and behaviors to make you a better person as you continue to grow.

And to my fellow divorcĂ©es, there's absolutely nothing wrong with getting remarried.  There's no shame in it, you should still celebrate your love and happiness.  The people who matter will be supportive and love you.

Life's just entirely too short to skip out on your own happiness.

Get it, girl.

P.S.  Check out my tips on what NOT to do when your friend is divorcing... because it's not something easy to navigate, and it helps to have people who can understand!

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