Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Timing is Everything

Ken and I have been living together for seven years now. Why, you might ask, are we bothering to get married? And why now?

The breakup of my first marriage was truly traumatizing. Well, what divorce isn’t? I never realized until I went through it myself how divorce rips your guts out and leaves you, collapsed and hollow, trying to make sense of the wreckage of your life.

When I got married the first time I truly believed, with all of my heart, that I would keep my marriage vows. ‘Till death do us part, honour and cherish, the whole nine yards. And I really, truly tried. That marriage lasted for five years, and we had some good times, but in the end we could not make it work. I remember one time, at the end of another long argument, we both admitted that while we still loved one another, we also had grown to hate each other. I was losing my mind and my self in that marriage. For the sake of my survival, I couldn’t stay.

After that, the thought of remarrying seemed bizarre. If I had believed my vows with all my heart the first time, why should I trust myself any more now? We can’t see the future; can’t see all the ways in which mates will change and possibly grow apart. For a long time it was all I could do just to take one day at a time, to get out of bed, go to work and keep my apartment clean. There was no such thing as Forever anymore.

Also, I felt that I couldn’t promise anyone that I would be there for them, to support them through thick and thin. I could barely care for myself. My emotional life, for a long time, consisted primarily of sadness, despair, anger, and frustration. How could I promise to love someone for better or for worse? I was in the middle of my own worse. I didn’t believe that I had enough left to give, or that I could be resilient enough to withstand the misfortunes of another person on top of my own.

When Ken and I were still fairly new to the idea that our relationship was a serious one, he used to promise me that even if I got really sick or was crippled in a car wreck or if I lost my mind, he would still love me and care for me always. I was ashamed not to be able to return that promise. But at least I was honest. I wept and confessed that I wasn’t sure if I could do the same for him. He said “yes, you would”. He had more faith in me than I did.

The passage of time blunted the pain of my divorce. Ken had to ask me a few times, but I finally agreed to go with him to pick out an engagement ring. That was three years ago. We bought wedding bands quite soon after I started wearing my ring, but we never got around to actually picking a date.

Another part of the problem was that I didn’t want to have another wedding. I wanted to BE married, but the idea of planning a wedding completely turned me off. I’ve written about my first wedding, and how disappointing it was. I didn’t want a repeat of that experience, but the thought of going down to City Hall to sign a paper with no ceremony whatsoever seemed meaningless. I didn’t know what to do, so I didn’t do anything.

Finding my faith, and my church, has made all the difference.

First of all, now that I know God is on my side, listening to my prayers and ready to lend me all the grace that I need to get through life, I’m ready to face the scariness of making a lifelong commitment. If Ken got really sick, or went senile, it wouldn’t be easy, but I trust that I would be able to get through it with God’s grace and support. I could keep my vows. I don’t have to believe in my own strength and tenacity. Or I do, to some extent, but I also trust God to meet me halfway, or more than halfway if I need it.

Secondly, we now have a meaningful place and way to get married. Of course we will be married in our church, by the pastor whom we trust. It won’t just be an administrative exercise of signing forms and making a change to our legal status. It will be a spiritual experience, which we undertake in part because we hope that it will be pleasing to God. This is entirely different from my first wedding, which was more of a staged ritual for the benefit of our audience than it was for myself and my first husband.

I am looking forward to this wedding with more joy and less stress than that with which I anticipated the first one. Nine weeks to the big day – and I’m sure they’ll fly by.


Anonymous said...

Good for you. God Bless and have a wonderful wedding.

Aurora said...

Seven years! Impressive.
Glad the wedding isn't stressing you out--that's rare to hear :)

Sabrae Carter said...

I actually can sort of relate to this! My first marriage was spontaneous tho! Literally a month after we met and it eneded with me beating the crap out of him for ceating and walking away! After that last man I was with I thought that I could NEVER love again.. But then I met her! Ahh her! :) Somedays lately have been better than others... It's always trial and error!!! Congrats and I hope it all goes well!

NicoleB said...

I'm so happy for you guys and just wish you all the Best :)!
Sunday will be the day when hubby and I first met, 7 years ago :)

Dianne said...

how wonderful that you're looking forward to it now

I know I keep telling you this but it's always worth repeating - I love and admire the way you talk through things, the way you're learning to be honest with yourself

sure seems to making life happier :)

Sparkling Red said...

Unsigned: Thank you! God Bless you. :-)

Aurora: Well, it's a little stressful, but nothing compared to the first one.

Sabrae: One month? And then you beat him up for cheating? Wow, that's intense. I'm glad that you got rid of him and found your lovely wife. I hope you two get through the rough patch without too many more bumps - it's all part of the life cycle of relationships!

Nicole: Congratulations on your 7th Meeting Anniversary! Seven years is a long time - where it's hard to remember what life was like before you met this person who has become the other half of your life.

Dianne: Thank you! I never tire of hearing it. ;-)

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Glad you found a place in your life where you can make that commitment again and even have a place where you can do that and have it be special to you. Congrats to you and Ken!!!

LL Cool Joe said...

I hope this marriage works for both of you. It sounds like you are both well prepared and totally committed.

I've been with my partner for over 20 years, and we've had our good and bad moments but hey we are still together. :)

Keera Ann Fox said...

As the child of divorced parents, with subsequent sabotaging of weekends with the kid and ending up with the grandparents for over 8 years - I feel rather scarred for life, myself.

So I hope you understand the utter joy I feel for you now that you have rediscovered faith - in more ways than one. It's wonderful!

~**Dawn**~ said...

Isn't amazing what a different perspective we can get from learning & growing? Sometimes I wish I could go back to my 22-year-old self & shake me til my teeth rattle. I wish you much joy & many blessings on your marriage. =)

SoMi's Nilsa said...

I think every woman who is single or engaged should read this post. You had to learn the hard way - maybe others will benefit from your learnings. Or, at a minimum, realize that its the union, not the wedding, that is most important.

Scarlet said...

Wow, this is a greater testimony to what God can do than anything I've heard in a long time...and of course, it's a beautiful love story of hope, healing and faith. I love it!!


Sparkling Red said...

Ron: Thanks! :-)

LL Cool Joe: 20 years? You must have been high school sweethearts. Good for you! It's a big achievement to have a relationship that longstanding, in this day and age.

Keera: Being raised in a split family gives one an entirely different view of marriage as a child, that's for sure. Thanks for sharing your joy! :-)

Dawn: Thank you! And oh my gosh, if I knew then (at age 23) what I know now (at age 36)... I was so desperately optimistic, so ready to ignore all the warning signs... it's breathtaking, really, how much I was able to ignore.

Nilsa: I would love to be able to share my hard-won wisdom, however there are some things that most people have to learn the hard way. I know I thought that I was exempt; that I wouldn't make the same mistakes my parents made... and I didn't, but I made my own that were just as bad. I guess that's life - learning a lot of stuff the hard way!

Scarlet: Thank you! I try not to get too gushy about spiritual matters, because I know not everyone shares my point of view, but I love a chance to testify when it's appropriate. It's mindboggling what God can do if you just invite Him in.

Jenski said...

Where can I find me a Ken? Seriously though, joyful and stressless-ish sounds like a wonderful way to make your commitment official. It is great that you have found a spiritual place in which to celebrate your lives together.