There was a time, not so long ago when only movie stars had multiple marriages. Growing up, I knew only one adult who had been married twice, let alone three or more times. Yet here I am a sixty something with three close friends who have married for the third time in their sixties. Several of my childhood friends are on marriage number two. Only two have stayed with the same partner. And I’m married to someone who was married twice prior to marrying me.
I have no idea what it all means. I guess I should applaud this phenomenon as yet another example of freedom, choice, and, as Oscar Wilde puts it: “The triumph of hope over experience.” Maybe it’s simply the logical flowering of the seeds of rebellion planted in the 60’s . After all, we know that “the third time is the charm.”
Apparently, serial monogamy is now the norm. Census surveys show that in 2011, 55 percent of all adults had been married once, with 30 percent never having been married at all. At the same time, 12 percent had married twice and 3 percent had married three or more times. Statistically speaking, the more times you’ve been married in the past, the more likely you’ll get divorced again if you remarry. For third marriages the rate of divorce leaps up to 70-73%.
Of course, these ugly statistics don’t predict how my friends’ marriages will turn out. Maybe they are all now mature enough and smart enough to have learned from previous mistakes. Maybe they understand full well what went wrong in the past and are prepared to take their share of the blame. Maybe they just find it easier to start again, rather than repair the holes and worn spots in previous relationships. And just maybe, these third time brides have taken to heart Jackie Kennedy’s adage: “The first time you marry for love, the second for money, and the third for companionship.”
I dedicate this song, with one small tweak to my friends (and to me):
The Second (+) Time Around
Love is lovelier
The second (+) time around
Just as wonderful
With both feet on the ground
It’s that second (+)time you hear
Your love song sung
Makes you think perhaps that love
Like youth, is wasted on the young.
Love’s more comfortable
The second (+) time you fall
Like a friendly home
The second time you call
Who can say
What brought us to this miracle we’ve found
There are those who’d bet
Love comes but once and yet
I’m oh so glad we met
The second (+)time around.