This Time it was Really Right

By all accounts, I should be a very cynical man. But instead of shying away from the prospect of a second marriage, I embrace it with a confidence normally reserved for poets, philosophers, and greeting card manufacturers.

Why is this so?

Last night, my brother and his girlfriend/life partner flew into town for our wedding. He was just up here for a visit, but I hadn’t seen Esther in over three years, and Tara hadn’t yet met her. We were sitting around my parents’ sunroom, drinking and chatting and catching up, and the topic turned to my first marriage. “Tara and I have had a deeper conversation in ten minutes than your ex and I ever had,” Esther recalled, while Scott nodded in agreement. “She never talked to us. And you were different, too.”

It always intrigues me to hear this. I’ve often said that my real life didn’t begin until after I was divorced, but I always felt this was more of an internal rebirth. Both my brother and sister-in-law noticed a change, though.

First off, it was weird for me to hear Esther say, “When I was around {EX-WIFE}…” I think a part of me had forgotten that they ever met, because it all feels so ancient and unreal, like made-up history. It’s as though I am reading pages from a novel where the Old Me and the Old Her and the Old Them exist as fictional characters and nothing more. But of course she’s right, there were visits and time spent together, as difficult as that is to fathom. And I guess I was clueless then, because I did not pick up on the fact that my ex was ignoring my family. My parents told me much later that this happened all the time, whenever they dropped by, and it makes me feel awful in retrospect. I did not see it at the time; I guess I had blinders on or something. Esther says I was almost a hollow version of my self then, going through the motions and playing along to a life that I did not belong in. These observations fascinate me, because now I can look back, remember how I felt then, and see that she was right.

I retroactively apologize to everybody for my ex’s behavior and for my own Lester Burnham-style catatonia.

What makes me think it won’t all happen again, then? How can I be so confident that my second marriage will prosper and survive after my first crashed and burned so spectacularly? I could say things like “Tara’s the one” and “I never felt this way before” and insist that Fate had a hand in this, and all of those things are true, but a lot of it also has to do with the simple passage of time.

As we age, we all become weathered and scarred, both physically and emotionally. How could I have truly expected that I’d met my soulmate, my one true love, the person that I would grow old with, at the age of 17? It’s naive to believe in those things as a teenager, and yet, when good-intentioned people attempt to suggest those truths, teenagers are headstrong enough to discount the wisdom of their parents. I did, and I shouldn’t have. There are many things I’d have done differently in retrospect, but a 17 year old lacks the maturity, wisdom, and experience to make sound decisions when it comes to matters of the heart. We were high school sweethearts, which sounds romantic as hell, but the reality is, we weren’t finished growing as individuals yet when we became One. I knew from the start we were vastly different people, literally from opposite sides of the track – I almost got hit by a train coming to see her once – but I foolishly believed that didn’t matter. Opposites attract, right? In time we’d grow closer together. And we did for awhile, but that’s only because I compromised many of my own values, likes, needs, and wants. I listened to music I hated. Bought a cookie-cutter house that was nothing at all like I wanted. Bit my tongue when she wanted nothing to do with my parents, who truly are saints that everybody else in the wold adores. Settled for frozen margaritas from a bottle. Never went hiking. And so forth and so on. Some of those may seem like little things, but it’s the little things that make up the Big Picture.

So after awhile I started listening to Nirvana and Soundgarden. I watched horror movies while she cowered upstairs. I bought a fishing license. I drank rum and Coke. This reclaiming of my true identity obviously came with a price though, as we no longer had anything in common. Dinner dates were filled with awkward silences; if we weren’t talking about the kids, we had nothing to discuss. Her solution, which I won’t go into here, was a marriage killer, but I can’t say I’m unhappy about it now, seven years later. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

Anyway. This is turning into an awfully long explanation of why my marriage to Tara is going to rock. So here’s the simple, condensed reason, boiled down to a single bullet point:

  • I love the hell out of that girl.

She’s smart and funny and we get along so amazingly well it’s ridiculous. Even after living together for nearly a year and a half, I still get butterflies when I’m driving home, knowing I get to see her. We are always on the go, doing fun and exciting things, and even when we decide to hole up at home instead, we have a blast because we truly enjoy each other’s company. She laughs at my jokes and “gets” me in a way that nobody else ever has. We are open, direct, and honest with each other; there are no secrets, and we do not judge one another’s past decisions or current beliefs. We have a lot in common, and those things that we don’t, we accept. She doesn’t like potatoes, for instance, but rather than giving up spuds myself, I will instead make myself a batch of potato salad and will let her know how delicious it is, while licking my lips and moaning. And she’s likely to do the same thing with cauliflower or watermelon. I even tolerate her fondness for “Ice, Ice Baby.” The best part of all? It’s all so effortless. Plus, she’s an awesome kisser.

So, yeah. The second time around will be forever. I have no doubt at all.

Tomorrow afternoon, we embark for the Oregon coast. And in a little less than 52 hours from now, we’ll be husband and wife!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

14 thoughts on “This Time it was Really Right

    1. You’re pretty astute, Esther. I asked Tara what she thought the moment we walked in the door last night. The feeling is definitely mutual! Can’t wait to spend more times with you guys, just wish it was longer.


  1. Beeeeeeeeeautifully expressed post, Mark. It actually made me teary-eyed.

    I (like you) believe that everything happens for a reason and when it’s supposed to happen. I think we have relationships with people, whether the relationship is positive or negative, at different times in our lives by which we learn from at that point of growth. And even the one’s I’ve had that were not-so-great and a challenge, I’m still grateful for because they taught me something – probably more about myself then them.

    I believe that you and Tara met at the perfect moment because it was SUPPOSED to be.

    As you know, I am sooooooooo happy and excited for you two.

    *doing the happy dance*

    Have a faaaaaaaaaaaabulous wedding day, buddy! And I know that I will be thinking of you and Tara tomorrow!

    Much X and happiness to you both 🙂


    1. Glad you liked it, Ron! I agree with your wisdom regarding relationships. Even the bad ones serve their purpose, and that’s something Tara and I have discussed often: part of the reason we love and appreciate each other so damn much is because of the crap we have both dealt with in the past, on multiple occasions. Those negative experiences have made us much more open to positive ones.

      Have a great weekend, my friend!


  2. For all the reasons you love Tara, she loves you just as much if not more. I’ve been beaming all week, telling everyone that my daughter is getting married this weekend and that her and her honey are true soul mates.

    I can’t wait to see you two become one. It’s going to be GLORIOUS!!!!!

    See you soon, son!


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