Someone recently asked me about my failed marriages. This term “failed marriages” angers me as does the term “broken family.” I will not be characterized this way and I will not allow my children’s family to be characterized this way either. We are not broken. We are “custom made.” Yes, I like that much better.
“I didn’t fail the test; I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” Benjamin Franklin
What is failure? I have been married two times. Okay, wait, if I am honest there may or may not have been an ill-fated and ill-conceived relationship in the middle there that later had to be untangled by both church and state. But in my heart of hearts, I have been married twice in the sense that twice I married with full knowledge of “death do us part” after great contemplation about the concept and was devoted, for multiple years on end, to the marriage and its success. Not that he wasn’t a perfectly nice human being; he just wasn’t marrying material (as several other of his x-wives could testify). But you know how we women are “he just married the wrong woman, I can fix him.” Stubborn fools!
“Every woman deserves a middle husband she can forget.” Roseanne Barr
So what is a failed marriage, one that didn’t last “til death do us part?” So a successful marriage is when one of us gets to watch the other die? Of course, as a friend of a friend, Michelle, has often been known to say “til death do us part was a lot easier when people only lived into their forties.” I’m forty six! Maybe she’s onto something. Maybe we are expecting just too much when we expect to be with the same person through all the stages of our lives and through all the stages of theirs. Maybe the whole concept is unrealistic. Maybe each relationship is meant for a certain time in our lives and there are rich and wonderful things we can take away from all of them, even if they don’t last forever. I’m going to go with that.
“Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.” Victoria Holt
I refuse to count the sum total of all the relationships in my life as failure. If I do that, than what do I have, 30 plus years of failure? No! What I have is a life time of living and loving. What I had was a marriage to the father of my children that was made up of good experiences and bad experiences. Why dwell on the bad? We had 13 years and four children together. We now have four beautiful, incredible, successful adult children. (And despite several bouts of temptation, I never once tried to kill him in his sleep). This, to me is success. We grew, we learned, we moved on.
I had a decade with my children’s stepfather. This was the hardest one to lose for me. This hurt the most. This is the one I went into after several years of consideration, feeling mature, adult and fully ready, eyes wide open. But it didn’t work. Do I count this as failure? (Well, when I’m feeling bitter, I count it as HIS failure not mine. Hey, I’m only human!). We had wonderful years as a family. We made a beautiful home for our children and several extra children as well. We had good times and lots of wonderful memories. He was there for all of us, when their own father wasn’t. For that, I will always be grateful to both him and the Universe. We grew, we learned, we moved on.
“There are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them.” Tom Krause
I still believe in love. I still believe in romance but I no longer believe in marriage. I no longer believe in the possibility of maintaining a committed relationship with one person for your entire life. You may disagree. In fact, I encourage you to prove me wrong. It would only help. But I no longer believe. I don’t believe in “the one.” Instead, I believe in “the one for this point in my life.” Yet, I still do not count this as failure. I count it as part of life. I count it among the experiences that made me who I am, that put me on the road I’m on and I love this road right now. I love these experiences. All of them, good and bad, have made my life rich and full and interesting.
“Any arbitrary turning along the way, and I would be elsewhere. I would be different . . . Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game.” Francesca – Diane Lane in “Under the Tuscan Sun”
I’m counting on it!