When I met my husband, he was recently divorced. And I’ll be honest that this scared me off. If he already had one failed marriage – not just a relationship, because who doesn’t have a failed relationship? – but an actual failed marriage, how much baggage will he have? Am I just next on the list of serial wives if we were to ever get that far?
I had a lot of hesitations about dating my future husband, but he was a great guy, and I gave him a shot. His divorce was nothing to do with him. He was not at fault, and no one who knew either of them disputed that at all, which made me feel a little better. I still wasn’t sure I wanted to really get involved with someone who was divorced, although fortunately for me (I was 26 at the time), he didn’t have kids any kids. I know I wouldn’t have been mature enough then to handle that additional complication.
A friend of mine sat down with me and set me straight, however. Her husband – who I knew and liked a lot – was also divorced when they met. He, like my husband, had married early and divorced young with no kids. And her husband never wanted to go through that again. He knew what marriage was and what it took to keep a marriage together.
My friend explained that in a way, men who are divorced (without significant baggage – always a caveat) come almost “pretrained” as she put it. They understand that the honeymoon doesn’t last forever, but they don’t expect it to. They have truly lived with someone before and are much better at compromising about little things like which way the toilet paper should go and big things like whether now is the time to buy a new car or not. They’ve seen what makes a relationship work and what doesn’t, and they aren’t going to cut and run when things get tough because they don’t ever want to go down that road again.
And suddenly it made so much sense to me. The guys I’d dated who had never been married tended to not be as aware of others when it came to their living spaces. Clothes weren’t tended as well, and important dates and activities were more often than not pushed to the side when something more interesting came about.
Granted, this is painting everyone with a broad brush. Generalizations only go so far because there are exceptions to every rule, but it makes sense. I was lucky. My future husband had a clean divorce from someone where they had started leading separate lives years before so the precipitating event wasn’t as disastrous as it could have been, and there weren’t years of bitterness and recriminations that had built up. He hadn’t developed all sorts of bad habits with passive aggressive tendencies or other nasty relationship pitfalls.
So I fell and I fell hard for him, and I got deeply involved. We were married, and I remember that friend pulling me aside at my wedding and looking at me with a smile. “I told you so. Divorced men make great husbands.”
So far, she and I are in agreement. I’m lucky. My husband most definitely never wants to go down that road again, and he is fortunately very patient with me. It’s possible that I can be demanding and selfish at times (but then again, he can, too – we all can), and he deals with it quite nicely. And I’m pretty glad that he has no interest in ever getting divorced again because I have no interest in following that path myself.
This post was inspired by the book “The Divorce Papers” by Susan Reiger as a part of the From Left to Write book club where we write posts inspired by the books we read rather than traditional book reviews. You can read my full traditional review of the book of “The Divorce Papers” on 5 Minutes for Books.