Marriage. This word has literally induced anxiety and cold sweats in me. Early on in the divorce days, people would mention the idea of getting remarried and I would say “right now I just need to focus on me and my kids.” And while this wasn’t a lie, it wasn’t the truth either. Because the narrative that actually played out in my head was that guys don’t exactly line up for women with four kids and even that was a false narrative.
Brene Brown discusses the idea of gremlins as the stories and thoughts of shame we tell ourselves. The real gremlin, that lay behind my false narrative regarding marriage was my fear and shame that it would never actually happen. It was the shame that I don’t deserve happiness and the fear that I’m not worthy of love. Wanting something and not getting it hurts. It’s far easier to protect my heart with all the stories and lies I tell myself than it is to openly, vulnerably and now publicly admit, it’s something I want. Because I have been both blessed and cursed with a brain that never shuts up, I routinely probe my own thoughts and have asked myself why I want to get married at all? Is it because I want to or because I feel a societal and cultural pressure to do so? Is it because finding my place in a family centric community can often be isolating or because I genuinely want to share my life with someone? Is it because I’m tired of going to events alone and, feminism aside, just so tired of shovelling my own driveway or because I genuinely feel that my life and my kids’ lives would be enhanced by sharing it with my best friend?
The thing about your ex-husband remarrying first is that people feel this impending need for you to remarry, almost to level out the playing field. As far as our society has come, divorce is still seen as a stepping stone to remarriage and not a destination unto itself. I am still seen as lacking, not entirely whole. Now, it’s fine for others to feel this way but the problems begin when I let these stories dictate my feelings. It causes a cacophony of contradicting thoughts and emotions inside of me.
The traditional familial trajectory is to get married, have kids, pay taxes and die. But what if your procreative days are behind you? Why get married? Is it to have a partner in life, to open your heart to love in its most difficult and rewarding sense? This kind of marriage, the second non procreative marriage, isn’t for society. It’s genuinely just for the self – to grow and love in ways you simply cannot alone. Standing up and admitting I want this kind of marriage is selfish. It’s not for anyone other than myself. We live in a society obsessed with love but it’s love with a purpose, love in order to have children, love in order to buy that forever house, love in order to complement capitalist goals (cynical I know). But the second marriage kind of love outright defies that. It is for no one other than ourselves. And that kind of self assertion, that kind of self care and awareness defies society’s traditional views on marriage. And asserting that takes strength and courage.
When I ask myself whether I want to get married because I want to or because society wants me to what I am really asking is who am I choosing to love. Is it me or my social standing in society? If the answer is the latter then hell guys, put a damn ring on it. But when it’s the former, when the reason to get married is for me, then it takes time. It doesn’t follow the timeline others have assumed for me. It doesn’t come with societal stress and pressure. It comes at its own pace. Somedays it feels like a damn turtle but as they say, slow and steady wins the race.