“Why Marriage?” This was a particularly deep question, after my first marriage ended in divorce after 14 years. The new love of my life was, well, still new to me, so a very reasonable question to ask myself was, is this just a rebound? Will this marriage also end long before death do us part?
In all honesty, it took a long time before I could bring myself to say “I will love you forever.”
But the two of us were such a perfect match, for all the usual and wonderful reasons. More than just finishing each other’s sentences or noticing the same little details, we truly supported each other, worked with each other, went at the same pace, and made sure there were spaces in our togetherness. Many times before our wedding, I quoted Oscar Wilde: Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience. (Actually, I “improved” on the quote by calling it a triumph of faith.)
In retrospect, I suppose that we didn’t really have to get married; we could have just lived together, and been co-owners of our house, and signed whatever documents might have helped us visit each other in the hospital. (Knock wood – neither of us has spent much time in the hospital!) There are many people, family and friends, who choose this route, and I fully respect their choice.
It’s tempting for me to say that I married the second time because I married the first time, that the second marriage was to prove that I could get it right. But of course, that just begs the question of why to get married the first time. I’d like to think that the second marriage was a bit more than that.
This was my chance to stand up before my family and hers, and say “I am committed to making this a long-lasting love. This is not merely a meeting of minds, this is a meeting of souls, and I want to look at all of you, but most especially at my bride, and say that the only future I see is the one where we are together.” This was my chance to tell her that I might (ha!) make mistakes, I might have a tainted past, I might say or do the wrong thing, but I would and will always work to make things right, because that’s how important she is to me.
This is the point in a standard essay when I’m supposed to tell you that it hasn’t always been easy, that we’ve had our differences, that marriage takes work. I suppose that’s all true, but here’s a little secret: because we love and respect each other, it’s never seemed like “work.” Love and respect and working to keep each other happy has resulted in – can you guess? – love and respect and happiness.
Our wonderful wedding was in 1994, over twenty-six years ago. I can honestly say, and I’ve said it to my wife multiple times: There has never been a single moment that I’ve regretted this marriage. I was in love then, and I’m in love now.
Win Bent grew up in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he started his life-long career as a performing musician. Sometimes a computer systems administrator, and sometimes a church secretary, he has lived in Boston, New Jersey, and Los Angeles; he and his wife, the Lovely and Talented Susan Richter, moved to Austin in 1996.