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Tag Archives: Marriage

Life is Not a Test


Once when I was at Wal-Mart I came across this Filipino cashier. She was excited to see me because there aren’t a lot of Filipinos where I live. So instead of speedily checking me out with as few words as possible, she asked me a bunch of personal questions. Which was a little awkward and probably annoyed the people behind me. But I still tried to answer all of her questions to the best of my ability.

Are you married? Dating someone? Do you have kids? A pet? She became more distraught with every “no” answer. I tried to make light of the situation. I have some plants, and I’m barely keeping them alive. That’s enough of a challenge for me. (Which is true, by the way. I don’t get much light in my place.) She didn’t seem reassured.

After I left Wal-Mart, I sat in the car for a few minutes, trying to think of how I could turn this blow to my ego into a blog post. I couldn’t think of anything at the time. It still hit too close to home.

In my defense, I tried to get the answers right. I got married. I tried to have kids. It’s not completely my fault that my marriages didn’t work out. And it’s definitely not my fault that I didn’t get pregnant. And I didn’t know I was supposed to get a pet if I’m alone. That was not in the study guide.

But to be honest, this is where I want to be. When I was in high school, I said I didn’t want to get married or have kids, but no one believed me. You’re just saying that. You’ll change your mind when you get older. You don’t want to be an old maid, do you?

I took their word for it and did what I was supposed to do. But maybe things haven’t worked out because I did know what I wanted back then, even though I was just a kid. I mean, I knew I wanted to be a psychologist and a writer back then, and those things are still true.

Since the Wal-Mart incident, I’ve gotten better at embracing the fact that the answers to my life make small talk awkward. I tell myself it’s OK. That life is not a test where there are right or wrong answers. So in the spirit of embracing who I am, here are 10 things that I’m taking off my wrong answer list:

1. I still love the song “Let it Go.”

2. I’m not a cat or a dog person. Or an animal person.

3. I bring my karaoke machine to potlucks instead of cooking something.

4. I don’t drink.

5. I count when I pee.

6. I don’t follow most of the advice on how to get your blog noticed.

7. I live my life more like a college student than an adult.

8. I’ve had two divorces.

9. I use an astounding amount of sweetener in my coffee.

10. I don’t change my sheets often enough.

If you have items you’d like to take off your wrong list, I’d love to hear them. It would help me feel more normal.


When it comes to money, my mom and dad are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. My dad loves to buy things and does so often and freely with no regard for cost. My mom, on the other hand, doesn’t buy something unless it’s “half of half of half” off. Depending on the day, I can be on either end of the spectrum, but most of the time I am more like my mom. As a result, my relationship with money is plagued with anxiety and guilt.

For example, when my ex and I were at the airport on the way to our honeymoon, I bought a neck pillow because we had a long flight ahead of us. It had one of those tags that they have on mattresses that you aren’t supposed to remove under penalty of law, but it was annoying me, so I ripped it off, anyway.

Apparently this law exists for a reason, because after I ripped it off, all of those little white things started coming out of the gigantic hole I had created and were spilling all over the place. I had to throw the darn thing away. I was distraught about destroying my pillow less than 5 minutes after purchasing it and wasting $15. It was only fitting that I should have to spend the next 10 hours on the plane with an unsupported neck.

While I was berating myself for my obsessiveness, my ex bought another neck pillow and snuck behind me and put it around my neck. Unlike me, he did not obsess over buying stuff. This became a source of many arguments later, but at the time it was a sweet and loving gesture. He was not great with words, but this one action said everything I needed to know: it’s OK by me that you’re obsessive, and you still deserve a neck pillow.

When memories like these pop up, it activates the same cycle of thoughts. Am I doing the right thing? Is there anything more I could do to make things work? I go through the scenario of what it would be like if we got back together, and I always come to the same conclusion: things would be exactly as they were before.

I wish choices could be more clear-cut, like on a test. But life isn’t like school: answers are rarely 100% right or wrong. I have to remind myself that with any decision, there are things that I will lose. I can’t make the perfect choice. I cannot escape the sadness of having to give up the good parts of our relationship.

Memories like this one make me want to cry. But at the same time, I am also thankful. Even if things didn’t work out, he was a good guy. He was a good choice for many reasons. And even as we finalize our divorce, he continues to be kind and helpful. Not many people can say that at the end of a relationship.

Starting Over

In my post on breakups, I talked about how sad it is that at the end of a relationship, someone who you once loved and chose to spend the rest of your life with could become someone who you hate and don’t recognize anymore.  How can both of those things be true?  Was this other person always there, lurking beneath the surface of the person you thought you knew?  It’s hard to reconcile. 
But then sometimes those two people who hated each other are able to put the past behind them and try again.  I am all about forgiveness, but if someone hurt me that badly, I’m not sure I would be able to give him a second chance. 
First of all, there’s the issue of trust.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I can be too trusting.  However, once I have been wronged, I never forget it.  And every time I remember what they did, I get upset all over again.  Starting over would require leaving all of those past grievances behind, and I’m not sure my memory and my obsessive nature would allow me to do so. 
Then there’s the issue of whether I could trust my judgment.  If I thought I knew the person the first time and I was wrong, how would I know if I were reading the person accurately now?  Ordinarily I’m pretty good at reading people.  But sometimes I can be in denial–especially if knowing the truth would mean letting go of the relationship.  Could I trust that I would go into it this time with my eyes wide open?
Granted, sometimes it’s not about an error in judgment.  Some people are really good at hiding.  But that’s scary, too.  If he fooled me before, would I know if he were hiding now? 
And then there would be the opinions of other people.  Which I know you’re not supposed to care about, but I do.  Would they think I’m foolish for giving him another chance?  Even if they didn’t tell me that they disapproved, I would know.  I would feel it.  And it would be hard for me to share anything about the relationship with them.  I would feel ashamed, even if I were trying not to care about their opinion.
Despite these reservations, If I had to make a prediction about what I would do, my guess is that I would give it a shot, because I’m an optimist.  That’s what allows me to cheer for a losing team and to believe I can come back in a match when I’m down 0-6, 0-5.  I believe in miraculous comebacks.
Sometimes people are afraid to try again because they’re afraid to get hurt again.  That doesn’t usually stop me.  If they hurt me once before, it’s not like it would be some big shock if it happened again.  And if I survived it the first time, I could survive it again.  And then I would know for sure that it can’t work. 
Plus, no one can predict the future.  No one knows for sure what will happen.  Love requires a leap of faith.  Yes, you may fall, but without taking that leap, you never get anywhere.

Honesty and Trust

I have often been accused of being too trusting.  Like it’s a bad thing.  And maybe it is.  It’s caused a lot of problems in my relationships. 

My first husband described himself as a poor, half-breed bastard.  As a result, he had a less trusting world view than I did.  He could spot a liar from a mile away.  Once when I was making conversation with his brother’s girlfriend about her studies in nursing, he told me afterwards that she was lying.  That people often lie while making conversation. 

This was a foreign concept to me.  I figured you should at least have a good reason to lie, even if it didn’t make it excusable.

Once my purse was stolen at Burger King on the way to a bowl game.  I forgot to get it when we walked out the door.  I realized it about a minute later, but in that small amount of time, they took it.  My ex knew who stole it right away and he knew that the employee who took our order was in on it.  He even went up to the guy and confronted him. 

While there were some advantages to his street smarts, ultimately, his lies destroyed our marriage.  I tried to trust him again, but he didn’t trust himself, so we agreed to divorce.  That was one of the many lessons I learned from my first marriage: be wary of people who don’t trust others, because they probably lie, too.

I wish I could say I have been more careful about who I’ve trusted since then, but sadly, I have not.  I seem to be pathologically trusting. 

I dated someone who told me straight up that he had problems with lying.  And I caught him lying several times right away.  Like my first husband, he didn’t think he could be honest, either, but he wanted to change.  I kept rooting for him.  You can do it!  I have faith in you! 

My therapist would repeatedly tell me that if the person says they can’t do it, believe them.  I guess this was the most honest thing they had said to me, but I didn’t want to believe it.  I never wanted to give up on anyone. 

But I finally get it:  you can’t trust people who don’t trust themselves.  You can’t will someone to have faith.

Some people have suggested that perhaps we can be friends down the road.  Yes, he lies, but it won’t matter in a friendship.  Except that it does. 

In the second half of my life, I want to surround myself with people who are honest and trustworthy.  I want to choose people who believe in themselves, so that we can believe in ourselves together.

I found a new art app that creates patterns using mathematical properties.  Artsy and nerdy at the same time.  How cool is that?


I was married once.  Ok, twice.  Twice unsuccessfully.  And I have to say, it kind of hurts your feelings to have 2 divorces. One is ok.  Normal, even.  Two starts to look bad. That’s why I have decided never to get married again. I have not gone through the legal steps to officially get divorced.  That way if I ever have the crazy notion that I want to get married, I’ll have to do a lot of stuff first.

Admittedly, there are other reasons I haven’t officially gotten divorced.  I don’t think that it’s up to the court to decide when my marriage has ended.  I felt like it ended when I bought my own place.  And at that point we no longer shared any property or bank accounts. But I do still have some of my stuff at his house because my place is so small.  I guess if someone ever moves in with him I’ll have to rent storage or something.  But I don’t have to obsess about that today.  Although I was about to.

Also, it costs money to get divorced, and despite being a professional, I am just making it month to month.  I suspect I must be doing something wrong since the average salary for an entire family is less than what I make, but that is for another post. If we got divorced I would have to pay for it all because he didn’t want to get divorced.

This last reason is irrational, but whatever. People do all kinds of irrational things. Even psychologists. Even though I already tell people I have two divorces, it’s different in my mind to actually have two separate slips of paper saying you’re divorced. They’re not even full sheets of paper. And it’s not anything important looking like a certificate. Like when Homer Simpson got a certificate and a stamp that said Not Insane after he was released from the mental hospital. I love that episode!  Maybe they should give you something like that when you get divorced so you know it’s important.

In fact, the slip of paper looked so unimportant that the first time I got divorced I threw the thing away. But then when I was getting married again I found out that you actually need that little slip of paper, so then I had to get a copy of it.  Which I did keep this time.  Although I have no idea where it is at the moment.  But that’s OK, because I’m not getting married again.

Despite my claims that this slip of paper is not important, I don’t want two of them on my record.  It’s like having two strikes against you.  Two reminders that you have not been able to successfully maintain a marriage.  And who needs that?

However, if my unofficial ex were ever to ask for a divorce because he wants to get married, I would do so. That way he would have to pay for half of it.