A letter to my next husband: reflections on marrying again

A letter to my next husband: reflections on marrying again

Dear next husband,

I am so excited to marry you and so grateful you have come into my life. We are entering the next chapter of our relationship and as someone whose been married before, I know and anticipate all the incredible things coming our way; marriage is a deeper relationship where love is tested but also can prove exceptionally rewarding.

But here is the catch- the one way in which we will never be alike- I was married before and you were not. For you this is an exciting adventure, filled with endless romantic opportunities. I know you understand that there will be hard times and challenges ahead but you cannot fully grasp the essence of such a partnership. And while your excitement fuels mine and I too can’t wait, I also am filled with a kind of apprehension that you can’t fathom.

When you’re in this phase of a relationship- on the cusp of marriage- it’s unorthodox to think about divorce. Surely I should be looking at all the ways we are going to stay together and not looking for reasons we may part? But unfortunately as a person who suffered through an ugly divorce, a relationship ending is as real of a possibility to me as our impending nuptials.

Why you may ask? Because I have given all of me in my marriage before- changed aspects of my personality, moved countries to provide for myself and my spouse and conceded to requests my personal beliefs didn’t align with. I entered that marriage excited too and also ready to give it my all. Which I undoubtedly did.

However in the process of it ending, my dignity was snatched away from me. Can you imagine how painful it must be to hear the words, “In the last 12 years you’ve never made me happy” and “I am so tired of being your partner, it no longer brings me joy” when you’ve done everything to make that person’s life fulfilled and easier?

Have you ever cried non stop on a 7 hour and 20 minute flight? I have. Have you ever dug your fingernails so deep into your skin that you drew blood so that the physical pain could distract you from the emotional one as you tried to teach a class? I have. Have you ever sat alone in a hotel room in Myanmar and looked at wedding photos of your ex spouse as he walked down the aisle to someone else less than a year after you’d separated and a mere 4 months after your divorce was finalised? I have. Have you ever woken in the middle of the night because you could hear an animal wailing in the most wretched way and then realised that the inhuman sound was coming from you as you cried in your sleep? I have. There is little of oblivion from that kind of pain- it clings deep.

But just as I hit rock bottom, I rose again too. Do you remember the first time we saw each other after many years? You begged me to see you and I reluctantly agreed to a breakfast meeting. You say it was our first date and I say it was a way to distract me from my emotional torture. You asked me to think about one day being in a relationship with you and I said,

“No. You don’t want to be with me, you only like the idea of me. I’m a broken person and I don’t know if I will ever fully heal.”

And you looked at me thoughtfully and said,

“I have known you since you were 17. Even if this is you at your weakest, you’re still 1 of the strongest people I know.”

It was the 1st time I contemplated that I could go on to lead a happy & fulfilled life after my divorce. And as you know- I did.

I remember when you first gave me a birthday gift and I was upset because I had never received a gift from a partner that wasn’t asked for or picked out by me. I couldn’t believe you thought I was worth the effort of choosing items I found useful and writing me a heartfelt card. I remember when you planned a weekend of activities of us to make me like the city that you had lived in for the last 10 years. While I was grumpy to wake up at 3am that one morning, it was worth it as we rose in our hot air balloon, watching the sun rise above the desert. I know I laughed at you when you were nervous to meet my parents but I also sighed with relief when they liked you. There have been many trips, lots of laughs, tired evenings and meaningful conversations. We have had so many memories and will have so many more.

You are a generous, kind and loving partner and these are some of the many reasons I agreed to marry you. And while I have no doubts that we can be a successful partnership for life, I ask you to be patient with my foreboding questions, ugly thoughts and requests for a prenuptial agreement. As a divorced person, I am no longer afraid of a marriage ending; I can see ways that this may be the most favourable outcome for two people. But after knowing the gut wrenching agony of being lied to, betrayed and having my dignity stolen, I never wish to experience such an ugly parting.

As I smile at people who congratulate us, and I see you browsing through Pinterest looking at invitations, I know I agreed to this because of your understand that marriage is a verb and not a noun. You realise that the real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in a ballroom or on a beach. It’s a choice we will make; not just on our wedding day, but over and over again EVERYDAY.

While I am nervous, I am thrilled too. And I know that I would only do this again- with you.

I love you, 
Not only for what you are, 
But for what I am when I am with you. 

I love you, 
Not only for what You have made of yourself, 
But for what You are making of me. 

I love you 
For the part of me That you bring out; 
I love you 
For putting your hand into my heaped-up heart 
And passing over all the foolish, weak things 
that you can’t help dimly seeing there. 
And for drawing out into the light 
all the beautiful belongings that no one else
 had looked quite far enough to find. 

Roy Croft, 1979

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