With two — count ’em — church annulment documents carefully stashed in a fireproof file box, I vowed I’d never get remarried. The annulment process revealed all that had been predictably wrong and I, for one, was not going to risk another messy marriage. We plan; God laughs.
A decade elapsed between my first and second marriages. I entered the second no better prepared than I was for the first, either emotionally or spiritually. Thirteen years have passed since the second marriage crash-landed; much is different this (final, for sure) time around. I’m older. I’m clean and sober. I’m a Christian. I better understand the salvific power of sacraments. I’m older. Now I understand why Holy Matrimony is considered a Sacrament of Vocation and Service. Wait! There’s more . . .
During the past thirteen years I’ve been healed by the witness of several long-married couples. These couples invited me to family dinners, included me in carpools, sat with me during liturgy and helped me with household repairs — not as corporal acts of mercy per se, but as an extension of their own deeply embedded spirituality. People for others.
I’ve been healed by seeing friendship and mutual respect between spouses trump exasperation, disappointment, and soul-numbing bickering. Over the years I’ve witnessed careers tank, kids arrested, financial well-being compromised, physical and mental health fall apart. More than one couple has gotten to the precipice without tumbling into the gulch of divorce. In some instances I’ve been a confidante. In every instance I’ve been healed by observing what’s possible when God is at the center; what’s possible when prayer is considered a first rather than last resort.
God will be at the center of my third marriage. Very early on, I announced the hierarchy necessary for immediate and future existence. “God and then me, and then you,” I told Dan. “No God, no me and definitely no you,” I explained. Dan was completely unfazed and, truth to tell, seemed relieved. Thanks be to God and the healing witness of married couples.You can find more about this journey on my personal blog, More Meredith Gould.