So, it's no secret that Honey and I were both in previous marriages.
Well, as with all things, it takes a lot of soul searching and team work to leave the past in the past and try to build something brand spanking new. Sometimes it isn't what one past relationship left you with, sometimes it's several things that happened over a series of years. Honey and I have very different relationship pasts. His was slow to develop. It began with a short lived-shotgun wedding, a bad divorce, and ultimately dated similar women with similar motives for years. I dated throughout high school and college, agreed to a marriage I wasn't ready for and stayed in it for a decade. We come from slightly different familial backgrounds as well, my parents were married to each other for over 40 years whereas his were divorced and the children split up. Those who love psychoanalysis will tell you that our relationships with our parents tend to determine our relationships with our significant others. Think: Oedipus and Electra complexes. Perhaps we gravitate toward what we know, what is familiar to us, be it ultimately good or bad. Some of the most charming and charismatic people are harboring narcissistic and histrionic personality disorders. Some of the most attentive people are misogynists. We never know exactly who we are going to end up with until we spend copious amounts of personal time with them and are let in to their little inner world.
I've heard so many people say they didn't have a "good example" of how a marriage should work. Even those who had parents in a seemingly steady relationship. What exactly is a good example? No seriously...what's a good example? Do they not fight in front of the kids? Do they not fight at all? Do they do for one another selflessly? Do they support each other regardless of agreement? Do they trust each other without falter? Do they ignore or deal with indiscretions quietly without rocking the boat? There are too many questions that can be thrown at that particular topic. If I sat and analyzed my parents marriage I would say it was fairly successful. They made it over 40 years without one killing the other. Were they perfect? No. Were they a pain in the ass to one another? Yes. Did they do ugly things to each other? Yes. Did they do sweet things for each other? Yes. Did they support each other? For the most part...yes. The one thing I've learned in the last couple of decades in regard to marriage is this: a persons own thought process will make or break their relationship. Lemme 'splain.
You know the saying, "you have to love yourself first before you can love another". This is entirely true. No one person can make someone feel anything, be it guilt, love, hate, sadness...etc. Those things MUST come from within. As a good friend of mine put it--he could lead one down the path to guilt..but he couldn't make anyone feel guilty. When you come from any kind of broken home, be it the one you grew up in (childhood) or the one you created yourself (marriage), there are bits that linger. That's why we seek what is familiar, the abused seek out (unconsciously) other abusers, we stick to or run from religious similarities, etc. On the rare occasion that someone chooses a person outside that norm, that comfortable/familiar circle, things happen. Thoughts begin to go haywire. Trust gets reevaluated, faith gets tested, and we begin to question everything we ever thought was real or true. It's a strange, enlightening, and a little scary. It's very hard to keep the past from tainting the future. There is a moment where we recognize we are making our current s.o. pay for the transgressions of their predecessor. It's not deliberate or malicious...it's just what happens when a person carries baggage.
It's not always obvious, there are subtle little tells that become part of a daily routine. I tell Honey every single thing I'm about to...whether it's going to the store or texting a friend. I tell him how much money anything cost...the groceries, fuel, that new pair of shoes...even if it's not his money. We still have separate bank accounts. He stresses the cash flow even though we both work and pull from multiple sources of income. In the beginning I expected reprimand or correction of various kinds, I even asked for it at one point because I didn't understand his passive nature. He got upset with me for having some repairs done on the house and using my own money for it. Not because he wasn't grateful but because he feared the string attached. I came from a long marriage that contained a lot of distrust that I helped create. Just when I realized that I had no crimes to pay for with this man I found out about Ex's second life and identity. That revelation set me back almost where I was 5 years ago-insecure, untrusting, and hurt. Upon my own setback, Honey fell with me. I'm going to chalk it up to my insecurity rearing it's ugly head that caused him to revert back to the "I can only count on myself" preservation tactics. During his previous life he was the primary and often sole provider. He was expected to jump through ridiculous hoops to make another person happy. (see the above paragraph about that one) Money was made to be spent, and he was expected to make ends meet regardless of any frivolity. He is one of several men I know who have spoiled wives or girlfriends and have separate accounts to pay bills out of. If they don't, the women in their lives will spend whatever is there and the rage at the man for not having enough. This is a point he and I are equally gun shy on...for good reasons.
The sad thing about all this is...neither of us would take the other for granted. Neither of us has unrealistic expectations of the other. We have both been financially broke, we have both been used, we have both been victimized by the greed and narcissism of another. These are not easy things to just get over and forget ever happened. The things we each want are the same, to be loved unconditionally, to be supported, to be allowed to support, and to be trusted. We work on recognizing our own faults and trying to correct them with each other...i.e. I was unfaithful previously-I don't even LOOK at other men now. I have no reasons to. He worked endless hours and was rarely home-he makes it a point to take days off and be with us. We give him something to come home to.
It's a slow process. I think as long as people recognize the symptoms of a problem they can make an attempt to fix it. We are not a perfect couple but we fit. There's something about my weird quirkiness that works with his quiet demeanor. We've hit that 5 year mark...and we're still hanging in there...something must be working!