A few months ago I wrote a piece on getting married a second time. Ever since then, people have written me, asking me to write more on the subject. Evidently, there’s a lot of us second-timers out here, or a lot of us thinking about taking the plunge a second time. Or maybe people are just curious.
So here we are. It’s been about four and a half months. What can I add to what I wrote four months ago?
First of all, I like it. After a decade of being alone, you never know what it is going to be like having someone in your life every day, having accountability to someone, sleeping with someone night after night again, slowly re-arranging life to merge two full, active lives and circles of friends and activities.
You ask yourself how will you adjust? Will you be enough? Will you make the same mistakes this go around that you made before? (or in my case, what new mistakes will I make?). There is a lingering awareness that you failed at marriage once before and you wonder if you can do it better this time around. Failing is, after all, a real possibility once you have failed once. And unlike a first marriage, your eyes are no longer fairy tale eyes.
If that sounds like marriage the second time becomes a worry-fest, or a thing of fear, or less magical, think again. If anything, it is, for me, something more magical.
After a divorce, and a decade of recovery and growth, I sort of became accepting of the idea that perhaps I would never find myself in a place where I felt comfortable and safe enough to marry again. That wasn’t a bad thing. It was just a fact. And the longer life went on, the more of a fact it became. I was OK with it.
I had become accustomed to the fact that I might never feel safe emotionally again. I treated it the same way I treated being bald, or wrinkly, or blind in one eye, all of which I am. Just a fact. Just a thing. You work with it.
I write often of safety. I believe, truly deeply believe, feeling safe is the key to everything. When we feel safe, we thrive in every way possible. When we don’t feel safe, we are emotionally and mentally clinched. We isolate ourselves. We don’t take the chances we need to take to grow as much as we would like. There are few leaps of faith when we don’t feel safe. Any steps we take are tiny ones, and always still wrapped in a binding wrap of fear.
Safety unlocks all that. Safety allows us to try. To be open. To get things out and try things out and to reach out.
And the woman I love brought that back to me. A sense of safety.
Don’t get me wrong. All is not perfect. It never is when merging to lives with all the differences and emotional sensitivities of hard lives. We are still learning about each other. It’s an adventure.
But it is also a miracle. To be in a place of safety again.
We are currently still living in two households. We migrate between them and will still migrate between them until such time as she finds the right job here in Vermont. That sometimes means we spend a night or two apart.
Introvert that I am, I miss her terribly when we are apart. In four short months, she has become a presence in my life like I have never experienced. I have recovered the meaning of the word yearning. Because I yearn for her when we are apart. I rejoice when we are together. Even when she walks in the room, my heart still quickens.
I feel younger with her.
I am not of course. A quick look in the mirror tells me that. But she has brought an energy into my life that I did not even know was missing. She lifts my spirits, not always an easy thing to do. She likes to have fun, and I tend to be a sit at home kind of guy. I’ve enjoyed being exposed to new music, new activities, new places and new people. It’s good for me, I think, and certainly, a thing that helps me grow.
She challenges me. She makes me look at things I “know” and things I think and rethink them. She doesn’t tear me down with her differences. It’s a lost art in today’s world I think, to express differences gently and without disparaging the person you have the difference with. She can do that. I never am left feeling less for my different opinion.
It’s not that she has made me rethink and change my mind on everything. Far from it. But she has helped me think about things that perhaps I had coasted on autopilot with. There is no autopilot in her world.
I don’t think I am a new person for her presence in my life, but I have become renewed, reinvigorated. There is new growth on my old vine. And I am grateful.
There is still much to merge. There is much to learn. There will be struggles. There always are. But having a partner is breathtaking. I may get over the miracle of the unexpected joy of our love in time.
But I wouldn’t count on it.