I’ve been married three times. You would think that kind of experience would make me an expert, right? Don’t they say repetition helps you learn? Well I don’t claim to be an expert at anything (unless wandering around Target with a coffee for hours and leaving with nothing I went in for is on the table- I could teach that with my eyes closed). A good marriage is so hard, it really isn’t something you can learn from an expert. It takes two people an incredible amount of time and patience to learn how to do it right, and even then things happen in life that can throw off the dynamic. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that although each experience taught me some valuable lessons, I will never have all of the answers.
The first time I got married, I was a mere 23 years old and having the time of my life with my best friend. We met the summer before my senior year of college, and got engaged the day after Thanksgiving that same year. To be honest, I was a little nervous about the idea of getting married so young (mostly because people kept telling me it was a bad idea) but the sparkly diamond ring caused me to ignore those thoughts. We waited two years to get married. During that time we moved in together, went on vacations, bought a house, got a dog, and established our lives together.
By the time we were married, it seemed like more of a formality and a good excuse for an amazing party. We spent the next two years enjoying each other’s company, and loving life. Of course we had our ups and downs, but life went on and we settled into our routine.
After three years, our communication started to fall apart, and emotions ran high. We ended up separating, and after five very painful months, our divorce was finalized. During that time , I began drinking most of my meals and lost a lot of weight. I sat alone in the dark most nights, with a cheap 30 pack of beer as my only friend.
The death of a very close family friend made me realize how short life is, and I started making some changes. Right before I received the finalized divorce papers in the mail, I started dating again. I got my very first apartment, and was excited to finally have my own place. It was the first time I had ever lived truly on my own, and decorating that apartment became the first thing in months that brought me joy.
Fast forward six months, and I was excitedly planning my second wedding. This time we stuck to a very small court house affair, with only my dad and brother as witnesses.
We went out to dinner with our best friends that night to celebrate, and then went home for a low key evening of drinks and games with friends. This time around, a giant wedding was not something either of us wanted. This time, we were determined to make the day about us and our love for each other.
Within a month of my second wedding, I found out I was pregnant. We were ecstatic at the news, and took some time to enjoy our growing family before telling anyone. We spent our honeymoon at Disney World, during the sweet spot of my pregnancy before morning sickness kicked in.
When we got home, we planned a family dinner with our parents, and gave them boxes with some baby items to break the news. It was such a fun celebration, sharing this amazing time in our lives with our family. I anxiously searched for every little bit of information I could find on pregnancy, motherhood, and babies.
I had a difficult pregnancy, and was on bed rest for the last 6 months before our daughter was born. My husband had to get a second job to make ends meet while I was out of work, so I spent the majority of my days and nights alone. Somehow we managed to get through it, and we welcomed our daughter into the world as excited new parents.
Throughout the first year as parents, we experienced a laundry list of frustrations. We fought over our different parenting styles, and never saw the other as a true partner. It felt like we were on opposite sides, constantly arguing over the “right” way to do something.
When my daughter was one, I celebrated my third wedding on the day I had her baptized. I was overweight still, and wore saggy khakis with a hand me down shirt. The priest took us aside after mass, and married us quietly while our families stood by. It was exactly 5 years and 1 day after my first wedding.
The best part of this story is that all three of my marriages were to the same man. We have now been together for a total of 13 years, and have two beautiful children. We have gone through so much together, including losing a child, but have managed to come out stronger in the end. I’ve learned that no ones love story is perfect, and a marriage is only as good as the work you put into it.
We may still fight, and we still don’t always agree when it comes to parenting, but we know that in the end we want to be together, and will always find our way back.
After all, three weddings is enough for this lifetime.