I read somewhere, the only difference between a first marriage and a second is this: the second time, you know it's a gamble. You know that you just don't know.
In my years of being single again, I spent a lot of time wondering.
What if I ever get married again?
What would be different?
What might be the same?
I penned this list:
If I marry again, there are some things I will do just the same because they were so beautiful, fitting, and fun the first time around; and there are ways I will enter marriage that are different from the ways I entered at age 19.
If I marry again, I will be honest. I will enjoy being in the room with him. I will enjoy missing him. We will dream together, set our goals together, and support one another. We will choose things to have in common, like TV shows and hobbies and favorite meals. We will not be married singles. Except that in some ways, we will be married singles.
I will try new things. I will look pretty. I will trust him.
I will not question his devotion to me if he watches a baseball game on TV instead of talking intently to me without breaking eye contact. I will remember that it is not his job to be my everything. In other cultures, the men spend their days doing the things men do, completing the tasks men are called to complete, in a world that is entirely separate from the universe of women. And it's okay. It works for them. It can work for us too.
I will date him forever.
We will talk. I read about a couple who promised two things to one another each day: tell me something you remember, and tell me something new from today. I think that's brilliant. It weaves the old with the new. It gives room for us to have plenty to say or just two sentences each. It is valid and important, relevant and true.
I will ask him for what I want. I won't make him guess. I won't expect surprises.
I will be patient when we fight. I will not believe that every fight is the beginning of the end.
I will let him not like my food. It is not an extension of who I am. It is a pile of ingredients mixed together, to like or not to like.
If I marry again, I will kiss more. I will let his skin touch mine. I will let him choose my pajamas. I will delight in sharing space.
I will let him play with my hair, even if he gives me a large, frizzy do' when I have places to be and cannot hide in the privacy of my own home. I will let him.
I will keep our secrets.
I will encourage him every day.
I will write to him. Because there should be some perks to being married to a writer; some of these words should belong to him.
I will be in charge of myself, and I will give him that same respect.
And I will do my best to love him by helping him, making his life better than it would be without me.
If it ever happens again.
~ ~ ~
And then it happened again. Five years ago today.
Five years in, I know firsthand the difference between a first marriage and second.
The second time, I've realized what I have from the very beginning.
I know how fast it goes.
I know how much is on the line.
I know how fragile and strong this thing can be, somehow all at once.
I know what I longed for in the after, and I am so focused not to miss it in the today.
The second time, I know.
Today marks five years of morning coffee, bedtime ice cream, baseball games, walking dogs, folding laundry, listening carefully, singing in the car, dancing in the kitchen, and raising boys into men.
We are going to one-day-at-a-time it for another 365.
Anniversary is a lovely word.