I couldn’t stop hurting. My ego was so fragile; I just couldn’t let it go. My husband had said something that wounded me, and then a flurry of texts ensued. I can’t even remember what started it, but I do remember this… After hours of festering, even after he apologized, I couldn’t let it go.
This is my second marriage. My first marriage lasted 26 years and was very different than the one I have today. First time around I fell in love with a boy who was barely a man. We were just 22 and learned to become adults together, surviving our 20’s and entering our 30’s with a successful career in the entertainment business. We grew to a family of six, and it was the very core of our joy.
And then it all collapsed on one tragic day.
The sudden death of our child, our oldest son, shook our core. Our marriage faltered through grieving that is more intense than you can imagine.
My husband said, “It’s just too painful. We can’t be together anymore.”
And yet I still loved him; and I knew that he loved me. No matter how much I fought to hold onto what we had, he just couldn’t bear it… and left.
Then, he died, just years later. A heart attack took him at 54, and I know for sure it began the day we lost our beautiful boy.
Love the second time around
My marriage now is quite different from my first. We had met briefly in New York when I was just 16, and he was 20, but he remembered me all these years later.
We fell in love quickly. There was no need for me to explore other relationships, I just knew when I met him it was a true and honest love. It was his character and ability to communicate that struck me. Mutual friends would speak of it, too. They’d say, You’ve got an extraordinary man, Sandy. And I knew it.
It’s not easy blending two full lives into one
Learning about love the second time around isn’t easy. We had already built our adult lives, each having our own businesses and finances, our individual homes, and separate communities of friends. We both had decades of life experiences and challenges. Some we rose stronger from, and some still festered now and then.
And then there were my children. He had none, but embraced mine with great affection, always respectful of the memories of the father who birthed them.
We both had a vast library of history to our names, and we recognized it does not erase with new marriage vows. Instead, we had to honor it.
We’ve been married for seven years and still live in two different states because of work and family obligations. We are together several weeks at a time, then apart. We lean heavily on our tech devices to maintain our relationship.
When we talk on the phone, we don’t have the daily gift of touch, nor are we able to see what’s going on in each other’s eyes. We have to rely on what we say, and our tone of voice.
We also have a text relationship and texting has a tone, just as your voice. It is even more important to be aware of your tone in texting because there’s no emotion except that which you create within your words and emojis. We’re both keenly aware of how one miss-interpreted text can spoil a perfectly beautiful day.
What is the secret to making it work?
Communication. I didn’t grow up with this man, as I witnessed with my first husband.
I had to learn a new language of love and anger. I discovered there’s a method to an argument. It starts with a trigger. Learning to diffuse it is much more difficult. It was critical for me to learn a more effective way of communicating with words.
There’s a huge difference between texting “Love you” and “I love you.” One is like a quick kiss on the cheek and the other is a lingering kiss on the lips.
And then there’s this one… “I am so in love with you.” When that one comes through either by text, email, or phone, it’s a complete and total fusion of the love we share. It’s like a warm embrace, a long look into each other’s eyes, followed by a kiss that doesn’t want to end.
And one more… “I am passionately in love with you. I want to feel you.” Well…. You can imagine.
Even though we’ve been together for almost a decade now, sometimes words expressed while apart still feel a tad bit vulnerable, as it takes complete surrender of ego and affirming a deep and lasting commitment to each other even when we can’t look into each other’s eyes.
And it’s worth it. I’m no longer afraid to show vulnerability. I can be real.
Finding your voice this time around
In this Second Act marriage, I’ve discovered I have a stronger voice; not because I never had it in my first marriage, but am a more confident woman than I was then. I can give my opinion to my husband and trust it will be well received… most of the time. I’ve also gotten better at expressing myself.
We are both more are secure in who we are and what we’ve achieved. We didn’t “grow up” together, we came together, forging a new love, and building a bridge joining two strong foundations.
My husband says I was “forged by fire.” He knows I once loved deeply and lost. He knows my heart still aches for my beautiful child and the life I once had. He knows my life includes a deep and faithful love for my children that I raised on my own since the time their father left.
But there is a sense of urgency
This stage of life has a clock ticking, but it also feels more alive than ever. I know that people can leave this earth at any time and it forces me to live more in the present. I don’t frequently use the term “someday,” because it doesn’t really exist.
This day is what we have. This day we can live life to the fullest. No day should be wasted. We still set goals and have dreams, but we’ve learned to make plans for the very near future, because our “somedays” are today.
People are happier having experiences rather than things.
In the best selling book, Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, he says people are happier by having experiences rather than having things. I can’t think of a better reason to finally take that trip to Ireland, Scotland, and England this year!
Life continues to have bumps, and surprises I don’t always expect, but I’ve proven to myself that I have weathered each one and bounced back from even the darkest days. I suspect you have those times, too.
Not long ago, my husband and I wouldn’t have had the option to text or able to make a video call. We look forward every day to our morning hellos via text and often meet for a glass of wine over Skype in the evening.
We “check in” numerous times throughout our day. We know how each other’s business is going, what we have for lunch, and what we’re reading or binge-watching on television.
We are currently sharing our thoughts after each episode of Outlander because the characters, Jamie and Claire, are separated, too, but not just by distance. They are sometimes centuries apart.
She was a British Army nurse in World War II who was suddenly transported back in time to 1743 where she meets a Scottish Highland warrior, embroiled in the Jacobite rebellions of the time.
Claire is often yanked from one century to another, leading two different lives, but the love they have for each other remains passionately connected even when they are apart.
And so does ours. Our love grows stronger, more faithful, and endures even when we’re in two different states. It’s not always ideal or easy. We have to diffuse disagreements quickly. I can’t just walk into his arms and kiss him and say I’m sorry. We have to find the words, the tone, and the truthfulness in our voices to bridge our love back together.
When my husband says, “My love, will you recover for me” I know he’s not saying I shouldn’t be hurt or that I don’t have a right to my opinions. We disagree sometimes, and one is not more right than the other… we just have a back history of independent lives to draw from, and they often don’t agree.
Just like Jamie and Claire. They have very different perspectives, coming from different centuries, but they are joined together in love and respect for the lives they know and the marriage they wish to hold sacred.
“Will you recover for me?”
I didn’t expect those words to touch me so deeply.
I started to cry.
Sometimes I resist unbinding my willful ego, but I’m learning to release the pain caused by words that are sometimes misinterpreted through our current communication devices.
My marriage is worth every bit of settling my wounded feelings and recovering… I recognize every moment with my husband is valuable.
I’ve loved and lost; he knows that. We can’t waste time on things that really need to be put to rest.
Of course I would recover for him, for our relationship, for our life together. There was no need to prolong unhappiness when two words, said in the truest way could return us to love.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears.” –CS Lewis
My husband and I may be in two different states, but we are a beautiful partnership bound by a deep and passionate love for each other.
Discovering new words and new ways to communicate is an adventure unto itself. It keeps our love active and alive, and each morning we rise knowing we are loved.
A version of this post was previously published on Medium and is republished here with permission from the author.
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