I'm getting married for the second time in August. I'm marrying a woman that I truly love, but I truly loved my first wife and that didn't work. So why get married again, when we could just live together?
Because for me being married is saying, "We're in this together no matter what." I need that. I feel better when I have someone on my team, sharing life. Taking a vow doesn't guarantee we'll do the work a relationship takes (see: first marriage), but it's a good place to start.
As much I was would like to play the blame game and point fingers, my first wife didn't leave because I was perfect. I made some mistakes that I hope not to make in this marriage. For most of my adult life, I've made to-do lists to help me stay focused and get things done.
I know it's not very romantic, but here's my to-do list for my second marriage:
Accept her, all of her: The dictionary defines accept as "willing to receive."
That's a lot different than just putting up with stuff she does. All of us have idiosyncrasies; I bite my fingernails. I take a lot of baths. I don't like dishes left in the sink.
So she doesn't floss every day. So she doesn't think I'm qualified to handle laundry, and when I do sneak a load in, she double-checks my work. So she likes to watch "The Bachelor." Those are all things that make her who she is. I accept her and hope she keeps dishes out the sink.
Don't keep score: "I did this or I did that, so now it's your turn." "I did this and this and this, so now you owe me." I said or implied those things a lot in my first marriage. That was a big mistake. It doesn't matter who did what. Pam and I are in this together and either I trust her to carry her part or I don't, but keeping track and pointing out what is or isn't done doesn't help anything.
Be nicer: I think a lot about a line from the movie "Mr. Saturday", starring Billy Crystal. Billy's character lectures his brother about all the good things he's done for their family (and it was a lot), and when he's done he says, "Didn't I do enough?" and his brother, played by David Paymer, says, "Yeah, but you could have been nicer." That used to be me. I do the right thing, but I wasn't very nice about it. I'm a work in progress, I'm getting better.
Call a timeout: In hindsight, a lesson I learned from my first marriage is that it's okay to just say, "We disagree and we are going to talk some more about it, but for now, I'm going to hit some golf balls." Basically, I need to leave for a minute. Not leave the relationship, but the moment, the argument. With my ex, I thought we had to talk everything through immediately and resolve the issue. We would end up talking so much, I would forget what the original problem was. I'm not doing that again... ever.
Water the grass: I saw a bumper sticker that said, "The grass is greener where you water it." I spent a lot of time in my first marriage daydreaming about how things could be different or might be better if I wasn't married or she was different. Bad idea. The bumper sticker is right; water the grass at home. Don't waste time hoping or wishing or fantasizing about something or someone being different. If I treat Pam right and give her my attention, my love, my effort, that's all the green grass I'll need.
Be passionate : My Ex-wife used to tease me about how much I liked playing basketball and golf. She'd say, "I wish you were as excited about being with me as you are about going golf or going to the gym." I'd said, "You realize that balls don't talk, right?" That didn't help anybody. I get what she's saying now. And Pam gets the benefit of me having my priorities in order.
This stuff is probably common sense to most people, but I am what I am.... a man that does better if I have a to-do list. I'm crossing fingers and trying my best. Not just for Pam, but for me too.