What It’s Like To Be A 20-Something Hoping Your Second Marriage Will Be Better Than Your First


It was 2009. I was 21 years old and had just met my ex.

I was a junior in college with one more year left. We started dating in December and we were engaged 6 months later in 2010.  We had a two-year engagement and were married in 2012.  It was the big “dream” wedding that my parents refinanced their home to pay for.  They were not at all “gung-ho” for it, but they wanted to see me happy.  (I have the best parents in the whole world).

Our first year of marriage was fantastic.  It was exciting and new.  We moved into our first place.  We got a dog.  Our careers were starting to fall into place little by little.  I was nestling into my new role as a wife and loving every second of it.

And then red flags started popping up.  He would mention divorce all the time, during every single argument… even about who would take the trash out that night.  He became short fused over little things and unappreciative of the things I would do for him.  He started staying out later and later and sneaking around.

I found the dating apps on his phone, and all the profiles he had made with pictures that I took of him on our honeymoon.  Then there was the Google search history of “how to get an easy divorce” on our shared computer.  And then there were a lot of texts and pictures being sent back and forth to “B”.  His name was Bobby and he was a co-worker that everyone called, “B” until I called “B” and found out her name was Beth.

I remember the weekend I approached him about it.  We went for a walk and he promised to delete all the profiles and to stop talking to Beth.  He apologized and made a few more promises.  He talked about kids.  I wanted to puke.

The very next day, I was out of work early and he had the day off.  I called him on my way home to see if he wanted to meet up for lunch.  He didn’t answer.  I got home to find the place a mess… broken things, and the whole house in disarray.  Not the way I left it.  Our dog was locked in the spare room, shaking.  I thought we were robbed.  Long story short, he took all his things and bounced.  When I finally got a hold of him all he said was, “Get the hint”.

I spent the night with my parents that night (I have the best parents in the whole world). My ex and I remained separated until we were officially divorced almost a year later.  Married in 2012, separated in 2014 when he filed, and divorced in 2015.

I was miserable for a long time.  I isolated myself.  I moved in with my parents (have I mentioned yet that I have the best parents in the world?).  I became a hermit.  I watched a million movies.  I ate whatever I wanted.  I ran every single morning for my sanity.  I said no to a lot of things.

This lasted for some time.  Until… I started saying yes to EVERYTHING.  I signed up for things.  I joined a divorce group.  I read books.  I saw a counselor.  I joined Match.com.  I met a lot of people, just for the fun of it.  Just to get out of my box.

Then I met Charlie.

After dating Charlie for 2 1/2 years, he proposed, and now our wedding is on the horizon.  We contemplated just going to the town hall.  We contemplated eloping.  It’s hard to juggle a big group of family & friends when you have such a small section of the wallet available for a wedding.  After a lot of thought and talking, we decided on a very small and laid back wedding.  It will be my second, and my last.  And this time, I actually know why.

Charlie allows me the freedom to be myself, unapologetically.  He puts up with my anxious, worried nature.  He does simple things like, text me back, ask how my day was, and tell me I’m beautiful every day.  He hugs me as soon as I get in the door from work.  He does laundry and makes the bed without being asked.  He shows me he cares in that way.

But it’s when things get ugly.  That’s when I really know he’s the one.  I’m sure that sounds odd.  But after my first marriage, it’s important for me to find a partner who understands that we will fight, and we will have tough times.  Whether it’s a string of days or just one night… there will be times where we hate each other.  And Charlie & I have had plenty of that already in 2 1/2 years.  We scream and yell.  We say things we don’t mean.  We storm out.  But we come back.  We forgive.  And we move on.

I was abandoned in my last marriage and the hardest part for me is that the abandonment I dealt with has made me scared shitless that it will happen again.  After almost every fight my fiancé and I have, I ask him if he still loves me.  I beg him for reassurance.  I have nightmares that he left, just to wake up to find him sleeping with his arm around me.

And, without fail, he reassures me.  He reassures me as many times as I need, until he’s blue in the face.

You know… I see these articles roaming around Facebook from time to time.  “10 Telltale Signs You’re Heading Toward Divorce” or “7 Things To Guarantee A Successful Marriage”.  You read things like… your marriage will be successful as long as you don’t go to bed angry, and don’t spend too much on your wedding, but make sure spend enough, and don’t get married too young, and make sure you have enough sex.  And… oh, you might not last if you didn’t date long enough or if you didn’t live together first…and ooh if it’s your second wedding..well.. you’re doomed.

You know what… you know the saying, “opinions are like armpits…everyone has them and some of them stink”?

Well, that’s how I feel about those Facebook articles.

Some marriages work (like my parents who’ve been married 38 years this year and both sets of grandparents for 60+ years) and some marriages don’t (hi…).  I was the first divorce in my family and they embraced it, and I am thankful for it.  It taught me a lot of lessons in love.  Like the unconditional love my parents have for me when they moved me back into their home (6 years after moving out of it) and for never mentioning having to refinance their home to pay for the wedding of my failed marriage.

My opinion is that none of that stuff you see in those “click bait” Facebook articles really matter.

Because even if I could check off some of those things… we’re not too young, we dated long enough, we lived together first, etc… there is NO guarantee that a marriage will work.

And if you want to come close to a guaranteed successful marriage… then the first crucial part is that both partners want it to work.  To me, it’s about wanting that marital bond just as bad on the 30th year of marriage as you did on the wedding day.  It’s about dating your husband or wife throughout the marriage.  It’s about unconditional love and forgiveness.  Because on your wedding day, you chose to give yourself fully to another person, and you vowed to love and accept that person for all that they are (imperfections, flaws, and mistakes included) for the rest of your life.

That is what marriage is all about, and that’s why my second marriage will be better than my first.  Because I have a reassuring, unconditionally loving, incredibly caring, and undeniably forgiving man who asked me to marry him.

No matter if we kiss and say “I love you” every time we part ways, or have great sex multiple times a week, or not go to bed angry… there is just no guarantee of a lasting marriage.  But I have a partner I can trust this time.  Someone who is just as excited to be married as I am.  To go through the ups and downs together.  To deal with my anxiousness and to forgive the countless mistakes I’m bound to make along the way.

I’m getting married in a few short months, and while I guess I can’t sit here and guarantee it’ll be a successful marriage (even though it will!) I can guarantee it’ll be better than the first.  I can guarantee I’m older & wiser this time and way more prepared for a lasting commitment. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog