I am always filled with envy when I meet people who have only been married once—to the same person—and for decades. I call them “uni-marrieds.” Their kids carry both of their genes, they know each other better than the back of their own hand, and even their dog resembles the family. In my mind, it’s an enviable life. I often wonder what my life and children would be like if I wasn’t a “retread,” and my forever-husband had been my one and only.
Most couples who have been together from the start, have certainly been through their ups and downs, but I, at times, wonder how happy they are. I look at my parents, my in-laws, and the small handful of uni-married couples that I know, and it doesn’t seem as though they are. It seems as though they just tolerate one another. Do they still sit and gaze in awe of each other anymore? Do they realize what a rare entity they are? Have they seen too much? Do they know too much about each other? Would I also have thoughts of putting a pillow over my beloved’s face during the night, as we approached our forty-fifth year together? I’ll never know. By the time we reach our forty-fifth anniversary, I’ll be lucky if I have the strength to fluff my own pillow, never mind suffocate him with one.
Just shy of my twenty-first birthday, my high school sweetheart and I parted ways. Four and a half years together, and we established that we had very different goals and dreams. He was my best friend, so it was a devastating decision for me to walk away. To this day, I have nothing but a sweet spot in my heart for him; but by the time we split up, our differences were becoming very clear, and I knew I’d never be happy living the childless life that he wanted. I remember exactly where I was when I thought, “Oh my gawd. I have to start over again. I’m so old now. So many wasted years.”
Enter and exit HV 1.0*. After six years, one child, and healthy doses of emotional and physical abuse, I sent him packing. It was, at that point, the happiest day of my life. The sound of his name still gives me the heebie-jeebies. At twenty-seven years old, I remember exactly where I was when I thought, “Oh my gawd. How am I ever going to find someone at this age? I don’t want to start over.”
Enter and exit HV 2.0*. More than nine years together and I ran screaming from that world. Blech. ‘Nuff said. So at thirty-six years old I sat stunned and thought, “Oh my gawd. I have to start over again. How am I ever going to find someone at this age? I will probably end up dying alone.”
When I think back to my very first break-up, it is rather laughable that, at the tender age of twenty-one, I had such a doom and gloom outlook on my relationship future. I think it was largely due to the fact that I always had such a strong desire to have my children while I was still young. I’m sure it was the sole reason I rushed into my first marriage.
So now, almost seven years later, I am still with (and madly, ridiculously, and blindly in love with) HV 3.0*—my forever-husband. As the years go on though, will I also have the same thoughts of snuffing him out while he sleeps? I sure as hell hope not. I pray that I never lose sight of the blessing that he is—no matter what I’ve seen, or what adversities we go through together.
He had a minor skiing accident a couple weeks ago (two weeks after falling hard on his ass on that same mountain), so I get a little prickly when he heads off to shoop-shoop in the powder. I immediately go to thoughts of the skiing deaths of Sonny Bono, Michel Trudeau, Michael Kennedy, and Natasha Richardson. Why is he not content staying home safely surrounded by foam packing peanuts? Or bubble wrap maybe?
If something, God forbid, should ever happen to my beloved, I know that my thoughts will be, “Oh my gawd. How can I live without him?” If that man leaves this earth before me, my heart will be closed for business. I have been blessed with the greatest love I could have ever hoped for, so no man would have a chance with me. Well… diamonds might help. But we’d all know that I was only using him for that, the private jet, personal chef, and lifetime supply of mint-chocolate Girl Guide cookies.
As for the couples I envy. I don’t envy their apathy towards one another; I envy their strength and commitment for staying true to their vows in a world where the disposability of relationships is commonly celebrated.
My hope for them is that they still have love in their hearts for one another and take the time to remember why they first fell in love.
* HV 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 as explained in Chapter 7 of Living Out Loud:
“Husband Version Three-Point-Oh was how I referred to my future life partner. You see, my view was that my first two husbands (HV 1.0 and HV 2.0) came from a software development company, and were just beta versions, and were therefore not fully compatible with my own complex system. I’ve seen emails circulating that have a similar philosophy about men and women’s compatibility, so I’m obviously not the only one who’s experienced this. I just needed to be patient and wait for HV 3.0, who I was positive would have perfect compatibility with my system, and would not require further upgrades.”