What I’ll do different when I get married again (a new series)

I think humans inherently look at most of life’s negative events through a lens of  what if. 

Pairs © by Lori Photography

What if…

“I hadn’t gotten behind the wheel of that car?” 

“I’d never met him?” 

“I had taken that job?”

The examples are endless and diverse as the people asking them. But while the regrets vary the motivations are all to similar. We use this what if storyline as a way of expressing regret  – without sounding regretful. These what ifs can also become those pivotal circumstances, which often lead us in a different direction and routinely towards a course we had no intentions of heading. While those closest to us, in an attempt to console, use phrases like “if this is the worst that ever happens to you, then you’re going to be alright”, which is as helpful as rock salt on a shotgun wound.

Over time we can also allow this what if thinking to become debilitating. When left unchecked our past what ifs can become the prism through which we try and explain every negative outcome and circumstance we don’t understand. “I can’t find a new relationship because I cheated in my last one” And we get to the point where our expectations are tied to these what ifs in such a way it seems we’re in a infinite game of cosmic payback, and we begin to wonder if our debts will ever be repaid.

All of us can think of any number of personal what if moments which stick like that proverbial thorn. Divorce is one of the more common. Is there anyone who has participated in the Great Divide not face the ensuing question of what if?

What if I hadn’t gotten divorced…

“would I be in a better financial condition?” 

“would my kids’ behavior be different?” 

“would I have a better relationship with my children?”

“would I be less bitter?”

Yet I’m not convinced this what if lens need only be used as punishment and a spotlight highlighting our epic failures. Certainly it fits a logical way of thinking in light of our bad decisions but I also believe these what ifs can and should be perceived in a more positive manner.

“What if I hadn’t gotten behind that wheel and gotten a DUI, I might have killed someone next time?”

“What if I never met him, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate this new relationship I have today” 

“What if I had taken that job, I would have never learned money isn’t everything”

Divorce is a what if that has the potential of teaching us more powerful life lessons than we imagine. Without a doubt there is anger, resentment, sadness, and loss tied to divorce but there is also  freedom, rebirth, renewal, and self realization. There isn’t a person alive who has experienced marital separation that, at some point, hasn’t asked the question

“What if I got married again, what would I do differently?”

Note I said ask, not answer. With second marriages ending at an even higher rate than first marriages it’s obvious we aren’t diligently looking for the answers and if we are we don’t like what we find. One would think that after going through the chaos of divorce and experiencing the havoc it reeks emotionally, spiritually, and often physically we’d be far more cautious before walking into another – but I’ve been wrong before.

•♦•

I’ve had the opportunity to talk with young men who are heading towards matrimony. Like a grizzly war veteran replaying close and not-so-close calls I get satisfaction in sharing my own mistakes and what I would have done differently durning and before my first marriage. If experience is a good teacher, somebody else’s experience is a better one. I can learn to not stick metal into a light socket by getting shocked, but watching another schmuck get electrocuted is a far better instructor and much less painful. One would be foolish not to talk with climbers who’ve already ascended Mt. Everest before making the trek. While the guy that made it to the top gets all the glory it’s the one who got halfway up and had to turn back that I want to talk with. He is the one who will have insights the guy who reached the summit never would.

•♦•

The Queen and I have been in a relationship for three years this month. In that time I’ve grown closer to her than any woman I’ve ever known and part of that closeness results in a mutual life view which doesn’t usually coincide with popular thinking. We both accept that marriage will be our next step – but not our immediate next step. With four kids between us it isn’t as easy as going down to the Magistrate and loading up the moving vans. Yet we’ve been asked countless times  “When are you two getting married?”, or it’s more often from her girl-friends “When are you putting a ring on her finger?” Though offering a canned response and looking at each other with a wink and a smile the consequences of all the harassment force me to face the question

“ What WILL I do differently this time?”

I once read that the simple act of writing on a matter has a way of clarifying one’s thinking about it. I believe anyone who who has ever written anything from a book report to a novel understands this logic. Formulating thoughts into the written word compels a person to contemplate on a topic far more diligently than just talking about it. And it’s with that notion in mind that I hope to accomplish three goals in this series. The first it to clarify my own thinking on marriage the next time around. The second is to hopefully give others looking at marriage the first, second, or twelfth time some food for thought. And the last is to hopefully gain new perspectives from readers in similar situations.

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17 responses to What I’ll do different when I get married again (a new series)

  1. First, I definitely like the new comment section! Disqus (?sp) is not my favorite thing.

    When I first left my husband I felt ashamed that I was getting divorced and I had the negative “what ifs”. But now, since everything is so much better in my life, I those “what ifs” are all positive. Because I believe, without a doubt, if I had stayed with him things would have only gotten worse. Our relationship was very toxic. Besides, I never would have met my wonderful husband.

  2. I hate the “What if” game. It sucks the life right out of me so I seldom play it. I do agree that there is a lot to be gained by writing on something and you really are foolish if you don’t take the opportunity to learn from someone else’s mistakes and set off to make your own unprepared. Looking forward to your series!

  3. Wolf Pascoe

    Experience is good but I’d rather be lucky.

  4. The irony Kyle is that most people marry the SAME PERSON (not literally) when they re-marry. They may approach the marriage differently – hopefully – but they often make the same general mistake. Here’s another fact for you…question first.

    What do you think the divorce rate is for 2nd and 3rd marriages?

    It’s acknowledged that first marriages end in divorce about half the time. 2nd marriages end in divorce about 2/3 of the time and 3rd marriage end in divorce about 3/4 of the time! Sobering?!

    Do we learn?

    BTW, I will bet you a great dinner that YOU will re-marry before the decade is over!

  5. Amazing how life goes on; and someday, we WILL look back and say everything that happened was ment to be.

    Happy New Year Kyle!
    Kimberly

  6. Papa – Author

    That was before this blog series was posted, to their just missing my amazing insight…:-)

    Honestly, I don’t necessarily think we marry the same person it’s that our expectations never change. We are looking for another person to provide us something they can’t. Our expectations are far too high. And secondly, and probably more important, we marry for the wrong reasons. Women marry for financial security, men marry to be taken care of.

  7. Papa – Author

    I do believe that everything happens for a reason.

    Thank you Kimberly, I truly appreciate your support in 2011!

    Enjoy the New Year!

  8. Papa – Author

    Very true Wolf, but there’s a reason I don’t gamble. So I need to stick with other people’s experience.

  9. Papa – Author

    Do you think you’d still feel that way were you not in this place? Personally, I’d love to think that I would. 2008 was undoubtedly the hardest time in my life to this point. During what I call my “Emotional Winter” I think I learned the most about myself and how life is so inter-connected.

  10. It IS so easy to fall into what if’s but… when/if you believe that ‘everything happens for a reason’ then it is a logical deduction to believe that ‘this moment in time – in its intention – is perfect’!! That goes for the things that we might be ‘what if’ing’. I am so very at peace and content with my life today and all of those crazy, painful, and questionable experiences that came before this moment – led me here. I am filled with gratitude for the insight that I gleaned from every one of them – divorce included!

  11. To bookend on Bruce’s comment, years ago I read a great book called “Getting the Love You Want” by Dr. Harville Hendrix. Very eye-opening, and once you get past the first few chapters, it is intriguing how much our subconscious plays a part in choosing a mate. I also know that I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I didn’t go through everything in my marriage, good and bad. An old boss of mine always said you can learn a lot more from failure than from success. I believe that to be true, and hope to apply all the lessons learned in my current relationship!

    – DT

  12. Papa – Author

    Leslyn, Thanks for the comment. Hind sight is always 20/20 and as long we we can look at those challenges in the light of what they taught us we’ll do much to eliminate that “what if” mentality.

  13. Papa – Author

    Here, here DT! And all the best with your new found love!

  14. I most definitely would still feel this way even if I were not with my husband. My life got better about 1.5-2 years after I left my ex. I just realized so much about myself and what I wanted out of life. I set goals and realized I was focusing on so many wrong things. I feel like I became a better person at that point and only continued to grow.

  15. Ellie

    I too would rather by lucky than smart. Life is still a crap shoot, in the final analysis.

    Ellie

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