It’s happens all the time and I usually see it coming before it arrives, like visualizing an accident moments before the cars collide. It now occurs with such frequency the Queen and I prepared a canned response for anyone who asks… “We want to give ya’ll something to worry about!”
January will mark our fourth year together. That’s a long time for anybody – just to date. We’re at the point where most begin questioning our degree of commitment or the level of desperation. And the consistency of the question, “Why aren’t you two married yet?” is now getting under my skin while the dismay on their faces at our explanation is starting to piss me off. Because those stunned looks inadvertently lead me to question if our reasoning is becoming foolish.
My tipping point occurred one evening as the Queen and I strolled through one of the historic districts in suburban Atlanta after dinner. We immediately recognized the woman as she approached. Known as one who makes up for her miniature stature with a ginormous attitude, after the customarily shallow ‘hello’, and ‘good to see you’ I immediately gathered where the conversation was about to go. She turned her 5’1” frame squarely in my direction and for the next ten minutes, with the ruthlessness of a defense attorney, interrogated me as to why I had yet to “put a ring of the Queen’s finger”, “what was I waiting for?!”, “what was wrong with me?”, “it’s been four years already!?!?” My Christian upbringing and the Queen holding my hand were the only barriers keeping me from punching Miss Nosey in the pie hole.
Allow me unpack some things; together the Queen and I have four children ages eight to fifteen, two boys, two girls – it should be noted here that my son’s rambunctiousness and her’s transportation needs warrant they both get counted twice. Now do the math – that’s a certified Brady Bunch – minus Alice. And let’s not forget our daughters; one who’s already a tween plus mine that is rapidly approaching. I’m not even going to begin describing what that brings to the party. Then there is the nasty business of selling two homes in this train wreck of an economy, not to mention figuring out where we would house all of them. I explain all that to draw attention to a fact, the Queen and I have a lot more to think about than the twenty something couple whose most pressing marital decision is the flower arrangement or what side of the bed each will sleep on.
We look at it like this, we want to be the best parents and have the best relationship and marriage we possibly can, but for that to happen we have no choice but to step outside our own universe and our wants and desires and think about the gravitational pull such a decision would have on the others orbiting in our solar system, and then consider how it all could impact our relationship.
But if numbers are any indication this approach puts the Queen and I in the minority.
I’m baffled at how second marriages fail at higher rates than first. Did these people learn nothing? Did the pain and agony divorce assuredly brings leave such a trifling impression they didn’t bother to think before taking the leap again? Or did they simply refuse to pay close enough attention and instead chose to employ insanity as the predominate marital strategy, hoping that the same approach would offer up different results with someone new? When it comes to re-marriages the old axiom holds true…“Burn me once, shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me”
That’s why I believe the Queen’s and my current situation offers a perfect example for why so many second marriages, especially those with children, ultimately fail.
I make no bones about it. The Queen is the woman I will spend the rest of my days with; her coming into my life is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. But we are both smoking crack cocaine to believe this level of awesomeness could ever survive if we blended our families, right now. We know this because we’ve spent enough time together, the six of us, and observed enough signs to understand that our kids aren’t ready for their lives to be turned upside down yet. Doing anything now would be out of pure selfishness on our part and any short term gains reaped could never make up for the long term pains that would surely come, all because we couldn’t wait.
I know of few couples who fully appreciate all the intricacies to a second marriage and the havoc kids can, and do, wreak on those relationships. Few give serious consideration to parenting styles or the role a stepparent will have in the children’s lives. They rarely take the time, while they have it, to seriously assess the obstacles inherent in blended families such as finances, ex’s, discipline, communication, or the fact that blood is thicker than water. Instead they enter a next marriage with all their renewed hopes and dreams but never reinforced with necessary planning and preparation.
As is so often the case after a dreadful divorce and a less than stellar single life riddled with fears of never finding love again, a man and woman meet – then zing. Amid the turmoil of visitation, ex -spouses, and co-parenting their relationship comes to symbolize everything right with the world believing the feeling will last forever. So pushed along by these emotions and aided with their frustrations at going back and forth and expenses that outnumber their quality time they choose to stop delaying the inevitable and get married. But in their haste, they fail to do the required heavy lifting that might give their marriage a chance at long term success.
And no sooner has the ink dried on their Commonwealth of the Bahamas marriage certificate than any number of events happen. One parent might get upset at the other’s kid and an unrealized, because it was never discussed, discipline line gets crossed. Now resentment and anger enter the relationship and the kids, who probably didn’t want the marriage to begin with, smell blood in the water. Naturally the parents begin to take sides in what can turn into a Civil War of sorts that has the potential to end up no less bloody. And because they never set proper boundaries, created a relationship game-plan, outlined agreements and consensus, or did the remaining work to build a strong foundation, whatever there may have been quickly comes crashing down and they’re left standing amid the rubble of another broken dream.
We have chosen to do things differently.
The Queen and I want to get married desperately, we want to share last names and introduce each other as husband and wife. We want to live together and enjoy all the benefits marriage brings. But we also know the price paid if we push things and let our emotions and impatience win over; so instead we sacrifice today for a better tomorrow and use this time to continue working, learning, growing and hopefully strengthening a foundation that will survive – no matter the look on everyone else’s face.