It’s my second 8th wedding anniversary. I honestly don’t think I’m a better wife this time around. I’ve got more baggage. I spend more time writing. I’m fatter. In fact, I do believe a second marriage is harder than the first. Ours has been.
A second marriage includes stuff you don’t see on Facebook.
Blended families: Maybe some families can rock this, but we couldn’t. There was always someone in the middle and someone on the outside. Either I was in the middle between the kids and Jim. Or the kids were in the middle between us and their dad. None of those positions are fun or easy or deserved. Though I didn’t have it as bad as some. One friend’s ex got her kids to dump red Kool-Aid on her new white carpets.
Lawyers: I heard a quote recently about how when you build a case against someone, you’re no longer able to see the truth. But then there’s also another quote that sometimes applies to divorce cases. It was a statement about Israel and Palestine, but it really works in any story of good vs. evil. “If Palestine puts down their weapons, there would be peace. If Israel puts down their weapons, they would be dead.” I’ve never found the perfect balance between these two quotes, though counselors always told me I erred on the side of giving my ex the benefit of the doubt. Either way, there are no winners here. Everyone loses.
Doctors: The day we moved into our together home is the day Jim ruptured his Achilles when jumping into the pool. He was on a knee cart for our wedding as well as the first year and a half of our marriage. That’s a rough way to start out. He couldn’t swim with us during that time. He couldn’t play catch at Thanksgiving. And it caused more physical problems, such as back pain from being in a walking boot.
Counselors: Oh man. We all had wounded hearts going into this. We all had great big fears. Some counselors helped. Some didn’t. Some should probably have their licenses revoked. They all demanded time and money, both of which are in short supply after a divorce and remarriage.
In-laws and Outlaws: I love them all. But it’s hard to make this work. For example, Jim’s former in-laws who led him to the Lord turned their backs on him when their daughter started cheating on him. He tried to explain what was going on, and they said, “We just want peace.” Sometimes it feels like that episode of Madame Secretary where she had to give over the Russian spy her husband “handled” to the Russian president in order for the Russian president to spare the lives of many others. The good guy gets sacrificed.
This isn’t what marriage was created to be. My friend Christina Tarabochia (shown dancing at my wedding) and I refer to it as a Plan B marriage. It demonstrates what Plan A should have been, but it can never be Plan A. Jim doesn’t have the power to fix all the hurts listed above. Instead, he stepped in to share them with me. This is what makes our marriage redemptive.
Jim loves me in spite of me. And that’s changed my life forever. I could be going through this list alone. But I’m not.
The beautiful thing is that the pain of past failures makes me appreciate Jim even more. I know he’s better than I deserve. I live every day thankful for this second chance.
Everyone gets a second chance. Even King Saul in the Bible. He was trying to kill David, then something happened where Saul prophesied. That was real. God touched his life. But then he went back to trying to kill David again. See, even after God touches us, he doesn’t take away free will. We all get to choose whether to go our own way or not.
I honestly do believe God’s will was to save my first marriage. There was a point where my ex confessed his affair and claimed I was the best thing that ever happened to him. He promised to prove his recommitment to me and even said, “I don’t want to be like Saul anymore. I want to be like David.”
I rejoiced. Then he left again. And I was like, “What the heck, God? Being rejected twice hurts more than being rejected once.”
My ex’s choice to leave is actually a symbol of God’s love. He loves us enough to let us choose whether we want to partner with him or not. He loves us enough that our redemption doesn’t depend on someone else’s decision. He loves us enough to offer new hope when Plan A goes up in flames.
I’ve been reflecting on this since talking with author Robin Lee Hatcher at a book-signing recently. Her husband just left a second time too. His demon is alcoholism.
I can only imagine she is as heartbroken as I was. She even wrote a book about how God promised to save her marriage: A Promise Kept.
It was author Brandilyn Collins who told her, “God did save your marriage. Don’t discount his answer to prayer because he didn’t take away your husband’s free will.”
Such wisdom doesn’t lessen the pain, but it can change our outlook on the future. It can keep us from falling away from our faith. It can move us toward the redemption of Plan B.
I am so thankful to be here today. I’m celebrating eight years of being with the man our premarital counselor referred to as my “foxhole buddy.” He claimed there is no deeper bond.
Jim and I aren’t perfect. We don’t always know what we’re doing. We get lost a lot. But we fight as a team.
I might not be a better wife this time around, but I know we are better together.