I can’t say I fully understand this phenomenon – the ex-spouses who get back together, and wind up remarrying.
Can you imagine circumstances by which you’d remarry your ex? Would you? Could you?
The Second Time is a Charm?
I don’t have friends who have ventured down this particular path, but we see it on our small screens occasionally, we hear about it or read about it, and we have examples among our celebrities to look to.
As an example, we have Reality TV’s Nene and Gregg Leakes. Theirs was a long-term marriage that ended very publicly, yet within two years, they were tying the knot again in a glam, televised wedding. While we have only the edited viewer version to go by, it seemed that they still cared for each other. They also shared a child and a long history.
For those of us with “classic” tastes in our celebrity watching, there was Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood who married young, divorced, and remarried, remaining together until her death. Liz Taylor and Richard Burton come to mind, with their fiery personalities and incendiary passions. They married twice and divorced twice. Perhaps they’re an example of “can’t live with him, can’t live without him.”
Some Women Must Be Married
Like most women of my generation, I was raised to believe that every girl should be married. I never felt compelled to marry, but I’ve known women who must be in a relationship to feel good. For that matter, I’ve known men who are like this as well.
I’ve known women and men both who feel better when they’re married; it’s not that don’t care who they marry, but the state of matrimony is one that suits them, so they genuinely seek to be married and feel less “something” if they aren’t.
Personally, marital status does not define me – though having been married and divorced, I now understand marriage to be a sort of exclusive club that makes others feel safe, and perhaps makes us feel safe, too.
But that safety can be a crutch and an illusion. Ask some of us, depending upon the nature of our divorces.
Getting in on the Remarriage Act
Even Modern Love at the New York Times is getting into the act. In “A Second Embrace, With Hearts and Eyes Open,” we can read a poignant account of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. An amicable parting (and children) come into play, as in this couple’s post-marital singleness, they seem to come into their own again – finding a new pleasure in themselves and each other.
I’m simplifying what is always a highly personal and complex recipe – the ways that people are compatible, and what holds them together or drives them apart.
I wonder what contributes to the likelihood of remarrying an ex, for instance:
- If the fundamentals were always there – common values, respect, friendship
- If the divorce is not high conflict, and both parties are fair with each other about parental and financial responsibilities
- The reasons for divorce are not a permanent obstacle, e.g. a string of infidelities is insurmountable, but growing apart leaves room for doors to reopen in years to come?
- Even egregious “wrongs” can be forgiven, if enough time and genuine change takes place
- Expectations of marriage become more realistic
Rushing to Marry, Rushing to Divorce…
I recall reading articles that address couples who marry very young, and cease developing as individuals. This is especially true for women as they become bogged down in the role of wife and mother, often compromising their own careers or education.
Once on their own, they may find themselves – do the growing up that results in greater self-esteem and self-knowledge, making them more equal potential partners.
Some take a second shot with their exes. The relationships are better. The couples remarry.
I also think about those who rush to divorce rather than taking time.
Perhaps they’re convinced that the grass is greener on the other side; maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. Perhaps they treat termination of marriage like ripping off a band-aid – better to do it as fast as possible with the hope of hedging against more pain. Perhaps they’re unduly influenced by family or friends, encouraging them not to forgive and work through problems, even if it hurts.
The bottom line, in my opinion? Take that time before you marry, and likewise before you divorce. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to your children.