Living Out Loud

The Fourth Time is a Charm

2013-05-05 08

By the time I was mature enough for marriage, I'd already been married two times, once to my high-school girlfriend with whom I had two children and again to a woman I met in drug and alcohol rehab. I can't say that I'd suggest either one of those places as the ideal location to find your life partner. Marriage #1 lasted about three years. I still see her, of course, we have the kids and the grandkids, and I'm pleased to announce that our early parenthood didn't ruin anyone's life. She is a successful IT security consultant in the DC area and our kids are both professionals. Marriage #2 also lasted about three years, during which time neither of us drank or used drugs, although maybe it would have been better if we had. It was pure insanity. I haven't seen her in over 30 years and that's perfectly fine by me.

I met my third wife at the tail end of my 20s in the Westinghouse factory where we both worked on the manufacturing floor. We were married for 18 years, most of them pretty happy. I had custody of my two children, and she had a daughter that I raised with her. During our marriage she got a degree in elementary education. and became a second-grade teacher I found my calling in IT. We supported each other until the very end when it became obvious that we'd grown apart. She spent most of her time wrapped up in school and I pursued riding my bicycle to fanatical ends. By this time all of our kids were grown and gone, and it was just over. Four years after our divorce she died of non-Hodkins's lymphoma.

I've been with Wonder Woman since 2012. When we met, we were both into endurance sports, me mostly cycling and her in triathlons, although running is her true talent. Fittingly, our honeymoon was a five-month thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. Like me, she had two children early and between the two of us, we have five kids and thirteen grandchildren. I was a little apprehensive about several things when I first met her. My fragile male ego had never been out earned by a partner in my life and she was a CPA and partner in one of the largest accounting firms in the area. I had to get over that. I have always been just an average athlete, but she is a true competitor, blessed with well above average physical skills and a tremendous discipline to train and get the most out of every iota of talent she possesses. She has never, not one time, ever made me feel bad for not being able to keep up with her. I had to have both knees surgically replaced and during my ongoing rehab, she's content to go as slow as me as I lumber around the neighborhood.

We typically watch an hour of TV a day, always with her laying in my arms with her head on my chest. We have a huge sectional sofa, but we choose to sit right beside each other. We work at the same place these days after I came out of retirement. Of course, she's the associate VP of finance and I'm just doing end user support in the IT department, but it doesn't matter. Riding together back and forth, eating lunch together and having the same co-workers is pretty cool. My kids love her to death. My son flew up from Texas to help me serve as her support crew when she ran her first 100-mile ultramarathon. He ran a 16-mile leg of the race at 3am to serve as her pacer. Our grandkids are just that, our grandkids. Her daughters lost their dad shortly before we got married and although I am not his replacement by any means, I still love them very much.

I know I am a very lucky man. Not having the best track record at marriage hasn't kept me from finally having a successful and happy one. We don't have "buy a helicopter" money but we do all right. We've traveled a fair bit, and we can be there for our kids if they need us. We make each other happy most of the time. She wishes I could match her energy sometimes and I wish she'd take it easy sometimes but in the end we are fine. She is a classic introvert and she's taught me how to value time recharging at home. I like people and she's come a long way in her willingness to interact with folks she doesn't know well. As cliched as it may be, we really do complete each other.