"I've been married three times," anthropologist Margaret Mead said, "and each time I married the right person." I get it completely. I don't know if I would recognize the bride I was thirty years ago if she were to throw her bouquet at my face... although I do remember her as pretty and with a firm round ass that no longer exists. I feel certain, however, that she and I would be looking for very different things in a relationship, plus I'm a lot wiser than she is.
For the first marriage, a woman is driven by the biological imperative to perpetuate the DNA. Romance and lust are the propellants behind most first marriages. College-aged girls may be indifferent about the institution of marriage, but they are zealous about being brides and having weddings. The perfect guy tends to be attractive and sexy and what a "groom" should look like, and this guy is absolutely the right guy to marry at the time.
A smart woman goes after what a groom should stand for in a second marriage because after the dream wedding settles down and there is nothing but empty champagne bottles and a video of a rockin' party, lots of us discover that a good dancer may not be a good mate for the serious business of building a family.
If the partners in her second marriage choose well and have a little good fortune between them, this can be a blissful time -- if only because the kids are so fulfilling and such a distraction that no one really notices if the marriage is fundamentally sound or not. Wait, let me say that again without the cynicism of hindsight: there really is nothing so compelling and loving as two people coming together to put the needs of the family above their individual concerns and to love their little tribe above all else. It's extremely generous and often selfless and it truly was the happiest time in my life.
Try as we might, however, some of us never quite get the balance between devoting ourselves to our kids, to our spouses and to ourselves. I don't know if it is significant now in hindsight, but I don't think the father of my children and I ever had a vacation without kids once they were born -- and that was over twenty years ago! And I know I didn't go anywhere without all of them except to the hospital to give birth to another one of them. Live and learn, I guess, but I never question whether he was the right person for me to marry then.
Anthropologically speaking, my purpose on this earth would pretty much reach an end once I helped grandparent my children's children for a couple of years, which, if not for birth control, I would have completed about a decade before now. In other words, I should be dead by now, which would obviate the need for the third husband. This is where the blessing may truly come. My peers and I have fulfilled all that nature demanded of us and are liberated from the crazy chemistry of hormones that have ruled our destinies for thirty or forty years. From now on, any relationship we choose should have a good bit of fun, revelry and, most of all, gratitude to it.
I write about this today because tomorrow, my Girlfriend Corki, the Malibu Barbie Mommy friend I wrote about in Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy sixteen years ago, is getting married for the third time to the very, very right person, John.
She met him two years ago on a beach on Kauai, if you can stand it. She'd heard his name mentioned over the years, and he hers, but they met quite by accident. To see them together is to believe that they actually met their counterpoints.
Their romance is very big to encompass their respective grown children and even a grandchild, but unlike Marriages One and Two, Three is not so much about planning for the future, but rather to enjoy the life they have now. It is calm and loving and accepting in a way that is impossible to the very young.
There will be many of you who read this and say, "A woman should be able to find all these romances in one marriage!" To that I say, God bless those who do. And to the rest of us I say, God bless those of us who get a third time at bat!