As a young girl, I never thought I’d say I’ve been married three times and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But the universe (and one’s own personality flaws) has a way of upending the best-laid plans. My life has been a series of “growth opportunities” when it comes to my marriage record (yes, I have a record). And while many people don’t hesitate to point that out, I’ve come to terms with it and even managed to find love again.
My Marriage Dream
Growing up, I dreamed of a handsome husband, two kids, and a lovely house with friendly neighbors. In this dream, I would walk down the aisle in my beautiful white wedding gown amidst beautiful flowers and adoring friends and family. And then we would settle into a comfortable life with successful careers and a thriving family. I know that not all women have this dream, and that’s fine. But this was my dream, and I was sticking to it.
Marriage Number One
I married the handsome and successful husband, finished law school, and had two beautiful children – a boy and a girl. We were happy then, and I remember thinking to myself, “things are going too well, when is the other shoe going to drop?” Not long after that, Cancer struck when I was 32. WTF?
My doctor informed me that my foray as a pothead in college caused the whole thing (actually not true, except the pothead part). Cancer changed everything, and the stress brought out the worst in us. After major surgery and radiation treatments, I went through a midlife crisis at 33. After all, who knew how long I would live? Anything could happen. My husband became bitter that he had supported me through Cancer (what else was he going to do?), and yet everything was still about me. Instead of buying a red corvette, I had an affair, and we divorced after 10 years of marriage.
Marriage Number Two
Not long after, I moved in with the man with whom I had the affair who also happened to own a red corvette, and we married three years later. Initially, I thought I was in love, and we were destined to be together. I may be cynical, but if you ever hear yourself say this, stop right now!
Love will not get you through if its environment is all wrong. When the love hormones wore off, I discovered I had made a huge mistake and this marriage wasn’t going to work. Yet as my mom would say, “I made my own bed and I was going to lie in it.” I stayed in my second marriage for 10 years, and then I traded in the Corvette for a beautiful, functional, and reliable Toyota.
Marriage Number Three
Despite my extensive expertise in divorce, I still believe in marriage. I fell in love again with my current spouse, Rick, and this time it is so different. Is it destiny? I can’t say, but we’re partners who share the same values and goals, and as mature adults we can more ably navigate life’s challenges.
Sure, we have our fights, but they’re tempered with a sense of humor and communication skills. Though with two divorces under my belt, it can be a challenge not to succumb to feelings of regret and failure.
And people keep randomly pointing out my failure! When I married Rick, I told my dentist that I had recently remarried. Did he say “congratulations?” No, he literally said “Oh no! Not again!”
Upon hearing I had changed my name to Linton, a long-time work colleague felt emboldened to comment on how many last names I’ve had. It’s no wonder people who have been married three times are ashamed and embarrassed.
But I choose not to be. My name is Michele Watts Justin Pielsticker Linton. Here’s why I’ve been married three times and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
This is My Story
Everyone has their own story. Some stories are happier than others, but they all involve life experiences that shape who we are. As I said earlier, I’ve had many growth opportunities in my life – some imposed by the universe and some self-imposed. They’ve involved pain, regret, and hardship, but they also comprise who I am. I’ve been married three times and I’m not ashamed to admit it because I refuse to be ashamed of me.
Divorce Takes Courage
Leaving a marriage can be terrifying and doing so requires a huge amount of strength and courage. Sometimes staying in a bad marriage is much more comfortable than venturing out to the emotional and financial unknown and dealing with the external judgment that goes along with divorce. I’m not proud of how my first marriage ended, but I am proud that I ultimately had the courage to do what’s healthy for me, even if it took me 20 years.
Mistakes Beget Wisdom
As a 52-year old woman, I must accept that I’ve made mistakes and suffered failures. That’s part of being human, and it’s what makes us midlifers vastly wiser than our twenty-something selves. This wisdom helps us home in on what’s important and offers perspective when life takes a wrong turn. As we grow older, we settle into a more peaceful rhythm, hopefully freeing ourselves of shame when we can finally be honest about who we are.
So yes, I’ve been married three times and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Have you overcome shame about your past mistakes? Let us know by leaving a comment.
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