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Barbara Greenberg Headshot

Saying "I Do" Over & Over

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What is it about marriage that makes so many of us want to try out yet another one after 1 or even 2 failed marriages? As a clinical psychologist, a woman, a friend and a colleague I hear many responses to this question. The typical scenario goes something like this: An individual who is let's say a woman is going through a divorce or has just finalized her divorce. She swears to her therapist, her friends and herself that she will never get married again. She reminds us that "she's had enough of that," "she can't trust again" or maybe even that "she has enough friends and activities to keep her busy." Several months or years may pass and this same individual is suddenly talking dreamily about a new partner. And, yes she is even discussing yet another marriage. Or consider the following familiar scenario: A male friend has just concluded an acrimonious divorce. He misses his children who he sees every other weekend and he misses the house that he lost in the divorce. Yes, this may sound cliche but it certainly does happen. This man is certainly not keen on the idea of re-marriage shortly after his divorce. But, wait just a minute. A couple of years later we run into this same man at an event and he is with his new fiance. What? And, later on we see him with yet another set of kids. What?

Why is this happening? Well, there are plenty of answers. First, it is the human condition to want to connect and attach. Many of us like to be a part of something larger than ourselves and revel in the synergy of marriage. Second, when we start to fall for someone it is quite a heady experience and we want to celebrate it with a romantic ceremony. Third, we love the idea of coming home to someone who cares about the minutiae of our day. Hey, it's lonely out there and, of course, we want to take stock of the day with a significant other. Fourth, we start to forget about the difficulties associated with our past marriages and are full of hope that with a new partner we will experience more pleasure than pain. It is also part of the human condition to be full of hope over and over again and that, my friends, is a good thing. Fifth, we believe that we have learned from our past marriages and that we will be better partners and make better choices in subsequent partners. Sixth, perhaps I am speaking for myself when I say that we love the jewelry that comes along with marriage. Please don't get upset with me for stating the truth. Engagement and wedding rings are very coveted accessories. Finally, who doesn't need and want a good reason to throw a great party where friends and relatives can listen to good music and have the opportunity to be festive.

It is with our collective sense of hope that we move from marriage to marriage. And,it is my hope that all of your dreams come true. After all, what would become of us if we became hopeless, embittered and pessimistic. All of us are just looking for a little nourishment for the soul. I wish this for the married and unmarried among us.

xo