Marriage: A second chanceLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Marriage: A second chance

Life is an ever unfolding and surprising adventure. No matter how much we try to control it, it controls us. It rarely takes us where we want to as much as it just takes us and leaves it to us to make a series of decisions that lead us somewhere else. It can take you from feeling like you are on top of a mountain and enjoying a marvelous view to burying you under an avalanche of heart ache, trouble, or discomfort like you never imagined could be possible.

On May 13 I got married for the second time. The first time was all the way back in 1984 when I was at the ripe old age of 26, just old enough to think I had my life mapped out while not having a clue at just how fast it can spin out of control. I married a wonderful woman, someone I would spend more than three decades with, raise three amazing children, each of whom are uniquely different from the other, while traversing the challenges of my career, fatherhood, and marriage.

Life obviously did not go as planned. No one told me the decision to go into education could leave me feeling trapped inside a career which it is easier to get into and remain than it is to leave. The last ten years of teaching were not nearly as enjoyable as my first ten, primarily because I was ready to do something new but knew I had this thing called responsibility to answer too.

It’s one thing to start life over from scratch in your mid 40s when it does not involve upending the lives of children, it’s more an act of selfishness when you expect your family to go along with you while you try to find yourself again.

In 1984, my then wife and I were just living and enjoying the moment. We had a vague plan as to where we would settle and raise a family and thought we knew how marriage and family life would unfold. No one prepared her, or myself, for the fall out of having not been able to identify and face the challenge of depression, a part of my life we both seemed to find ways of telling ourselves would just go away. It didn’t. It just kept getting in the way, eventually forcing me to place it on the front burner and fully confront if I wanted to move forward and see what old age might offer.

In 1984, our parents were alive, vibrant, and enjoying the benefits of their hard work. They served as examples to us how if we just keep plowing ahead, the fields we planted would yield us a wonderful harvest of memories. Damage from brain tumors, cancer, Alzheimer, and strokes were not yet in our picture. Neither was the thought we might bring a child into this world who was given a 50 percent chance of living two weeks. It never entered our minds we would end up raising our children in a part of the world we both wanted no part of, Southern California, or that we would eventually grow used to life there to the point of forgetting our dreams of a life in the north end of the state.

Any small cracks we might have foreseen were never really thought of as potential fault lines that would eventually inflict enough hurt that we would see ourselves signing off on divorce papers at a time in life most couples breathe a sigh of relief because they now have an empty nest and the rest of life to enjoy together. There just was not any more together left to be shared.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to starting life over at the grand age of 58. At a time in which I was making decisions like what colors to use to paint the inside of my new home, what kind of flooring to install, and how do I want to decorate, I fell in love. It was not part of my new life plan. I was readying myself to find myself. I was buying time in a familiar setting while giving myself time to reflect and make up my mind on things like where do I want to grow old, what do I want to do with my new found freedom, and how can I still matter in this world now that my life has been completely upended.

To complicate matters, I had to try and convince my children I was of sound mind despite the speed of which my new life and love were unfolding. At a time when they were trying to get use to the idea their parents were divorced, they had to wrap their heads around the concept their old man was in a serious relationship. They all assumed I was going to be the one who lived out his life alone because to be honest, I had assumed the same. It was suppose to be their more outgoing and socially inclined mother who would eventually find Mr. Right. Instead, dad has gone off the deep end and fallen in love.

In 1984, I believed I was marrying someone I was going to spend the rest of my life with and though I knew we were different in many ways, I believed it was not a problem because love and the fun of living life for the moment would be enough to make marriage last. In 2016, I was now old enough to know who I was as an individual. I understood my journey and how I had arrived to where I was as opposed to just living day to day. I was more set in my ways and determined not to settle for anything less than what I desired.

Any jobs I took would be based on what the job allowed me to do and not on what it paid. Any place I lived would be based on what it would allow me to enjoy instead of tolerate. Any person I decided to share my life with was going to have a full appreciation of my journey and accept me despite my shortcomings.

In 1984, I did not know myself well enough to know who or what I was getting into in life with. I thought I did, but as I look back, it was all trial and error. Today, I would like think I have learned from the errors of my ways and know a lot more about myself which is why I also realize I know and appreciate the woman I have just married better than the one I spent decades with. It is not easy to have to admit you have failed to fully appreciate the first person you think you will spend forever with.

I also know my new bride has lived her own journey and learned from her own mistakes, pain, and challenges, just as I have. She gets me and I get her in a way I was not capable of doing when I was 26. Calm has replaced the inner turmoil we both lived with in our youth and wisdom has replaced our ignorance allowing us to have a much greater sense of confidence this time around.

We know there are challenges to face down the road. It will be much sooner than either one of us like to admit before our children will have cause to worry about us and the challenges that come with old age. But for now, we are able to enjoy this moment in life because we have evolved as individuals to a point where we really are properly prepared to share ourselves with another person and accept that person despite any faults or challenges that may present themselves.

I am a very lucky man. I have married two wonderful women in my life. The first did not deserve the challenges I brought with me nor was she any better prepared for them at the time of saying, “I do,” as I was prepared for what was waiting for me down the road. My new wife would not have deserved the 1984 me any more than the first one, but thanks to her own life that has unfolded in its own way, together, we are able to fully appreciate this second chance at this thing we call marriage.





About the author

James Moore

Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program. Contact the author.