17 Aug White Cake and Other Lessons on a Second Marriage
I might not be the expert on relationship advice, but I am definitely willing to share some of my insights into the unknown world of second marriages post 50. After all, saying it “out loud” helps me remember too!
With my wedding nine weeks away, here are my three top observations and words of wisdom.
LET IT GO
It is nearly impossible to change someone in general. It is completely impossible to change someone over the age of 65.
For example, Old Spice is a recycler extraordinaire. In other words, I have learned that he has a “strange” habit of sorting the garbage. In fact, I think it’s a relaxing hobby after a tedious day.
Some men come home and grab a beer. Others go to their tool shed. The recyclables are Old Spice’s tool shed. He sifts and sorts and contemplates, looks at labels and symbols, carefully identifying which plastic or paper goes where. He is basically an eco-friendly engineer, ensuring that our (soon to be joined in holy matrimony) existence supports a sustainable environment.
This is not one of my strong suits. I throw everything into one garbage can, ignoring all labels that say “Recyclables Only” and hoping for the best. I, admittedly and perhaps ignorantly, happen to believe that it all ends up in one giant landfill anyway.
I am not a garbage sorter. But Old Spice is.
The point is obviously not about the garbage. The point is— he likes it. I don’t. I give him his space to recycle, and he doesn’t shout or lose his patience at my disregard for the correct garbage can. He doesn’t even roll his eyes. He sorts alone—and we both have learned to let it go!
Choose your battles— sorting the trash isn’t one of ours.
p.s. And good luck to what you find…my garbage isn’t too exciting!
CATS and KIDS— NON NEGOTIABLE
Let’s face it…some things are just non-negotiable. Old Spice has two beautiful cats. Problem is that I am allergic. We are working on finding a cat free zone, like the peanut free zone in school cafeterias. I cannot live on Zyrtec.
We collectively have seven children. No matter how old or how far away they all live, we both agreed that when either of us is needed, our kids (most of the time) come first. For God’s sake…we are getting married at 10:30 am on a Sunday morning because my son’s Amherst/Wesleyan soccer game is the Saturday night before. Besides, everyone will likely be sober on a Sunday morning (maybe hungover…but sober).
While our non-negotiables were very clear to both of us upfront, it is still good to talk about them out loud. One thing I’ve learned, by a second marriage, is that a spouse is not a blank canvas…no one grows and changes into the person you want them to be AFTER the marriage.
With a second marriage, you fall in love and when you decide to marry again, it’s because you love that person exactly as they are. You make a decision that the person you are with right now, just as they are, is the one you want to be with.
The kids and the cats come with the marriage. We’ll make it work.
This is in fact my greatest lesson learned from my failed first marriage. I was young and bossy. It was my way or the highway. Of course, not all the time…but for the most part my first husband put up with that nonsense. But now that I am hopefully no longer a brat, I am learning that compromise is a wonderful part of a truly loving relationship. Getting your way all the time is actually quite boring. I am marrying a man with strong opinions. And–believe it or not—I am not always right. Damn! You have to be a real grown-up to say that!
So where does the white wedding cake fit?
White cake at the reception didn’t rise to the status of a non-negotiable, but for that one minute when Old Spice liked the yellow-lemon cake better at the tasting? Well…there are some things worth fighting for! I got my way and we are having traditional white wedding cake —not a new age lemon-filled blah blah blah.
But, we did agree on the cake design. You see…compromise is a good thing. The cake is called a “Deconstructed Cake”. It has no icing (so calling it yellow or white was really a misnomer anyway). It’s supposedly a new thing. I guess for the modern day couple who can’t agree on the flavor of the icing.
I actually find this really funny and poignant. You see, I am learning bit-by-bit, day-by-day, how to get this marriage thing right. I am 53. Old Spice is 67. We don’t have 30 years for trial and error. So we state our non-negotiables up-front, we let it go, we compromise, and we are happy. All of our collected “stuff” matters more than ever!