Is it appropriate to get married for the third time?
January 13, 2013 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Can I do an Angelina Jolie and get married for a third time while still maintaining my integrity? Please help me with your opinion.

About me: I’m 30, female, 7 year old daughter from first marriage (joint custody with her father).

I was married when I was 21 and had my daughter about a year later. A year after that I left due to the abusive nature of the marriage and was fully supported by my family and the marriage counsellor we were both seeing. I found out very soon after that my husband was not well liked among my family and his controlling/abuse was more well-known than I had thought.

I moved into another relationship quite soon after and my daughter and I moved in with this man. We then became engaged and bought a house together. We were married after being together for 6 years. 7 months later he committed suicide. Amongst all the grief and chaos of the situation I did find myself occasionally embarrassed at the fact that I had 2 ‘failed’ marriages. I also theorise that my husband may have also felt this way because we had hit a rough patch due to his depression and I was at the point of asking him to get help for the sake of our relationship. I wonder if his choice to end his life was partly (even a small part) due to worry that the marriage might end. Perhaps that is irrelevant.

Fast forward and I have been in a new relationship for just on a year. My new partner has moved interstate to live with my daughter and I. Things are great. We kept our relationship very quiet for a few months, more so because it was long distance but also to gauge the response of people to my ‘moving on’, which has been mostly positive albeit after a few inital issues with my parents which we overcame. We spent the holidays with my family and had a very nice time.

Lately I have been thinking about marriage. It’s very important to me due to my previous experience. My husband died without a will, life insurance etc and I found that being married had sorted out a lot of the administrative issues. Everything became mine, there was no question of ownership of the house, car, assets, debts etc. Even his superannuation (401k) went to me with no questions asked. In hindsight I was so glad that we did get married. I feel that if my partner and I were to become financially involved, I would like us to be legally married at some point, rather than swear off marriage altogether.

But I can’t get over the niggling feeling that it will reflect on me negatively if I get married for a third time! I’m actually embarrassed and worried my family and friends will see me as a celebrity type who acts impulsively and doesn’t see the bigger picture.

I’d love some outsider opinions. How would you react to a friend/family member getting married for a third time? Would you roll your eyes and say ‘not again’ or would you be genuinely happy for them? Would you be resentful of going to another wedding, or feel left out if they eloped? I want to know how the court of public opinion views my situation.

posted by Youremyworld to Human Relations (38 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Given your circumstances I think that I wouldn't even hesitate to be happy for you on your third marriage. You really didn't have an option in ending your previous marriages and you definitely deserve to be happy. Legally, marriage definitely provides extra support.

I'm happy for you and think that if marriage is in your future with this man then you deserve a big congratulations!
posted by MyMind at 5:02 PM on January 13, 2013 [23 favorites]

(1) If your husband was already depressed and you wanted him to get help for his depression, how on earth would it be your fault? This is... a self-invented mind fuck, to put it bluntly. I understand what you're saying, but it's still twisted.

(2) Are you seeing someone about this? This will undoubtedly be repeated a billion times after me, but THERAPY. Seriously. Really really. If you already are, keep it up.

(3) You seem to have jumped from super serious relationship to super serious relationship your entire adult life, judging by the lengths of time in your question. How long after each did you wait to get into a new serious relationship? How much personal time and introspection and self-care did you give yourself in the middle?

Basically: Yes, you can get married a third time. No, you should not get married one year after your long-term partner committed suicide after your first partner was abusive, because it looks like you have a pattern of being with unhealthy (mentally) people, and you need to make 100% sure that you aren't subconsciously doing that to yourself again.
posted by celtalitha at 5:05 PM on January 13, 2013 [41 favorites]

I would be so happy that someone I loved found happiness again after escaping an abusive relationship and being widowed. Neither of those things are failures.

For reference point, my mom has been married four times (divorced three) and I've never seen it as that big of a deal. Each of them had their reasons, it all made sense at the time, and she's happy now. As far as I know, nobody in our family has ever been less than happy in her marriages.
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:07 PM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

You deserve a happy marriage, regardless of the number.

The first go-around was a wash, you were young, your life is better for having left. The second one was not your fault and something that you and your daughter have had to endure. Enough of that. Be happy. The only person you have to please in this life is yourself.
posted by nickrussell at 5:07 PM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

But I can’t get over the niggling feeling that it will reflect on me negatively if I get married for a third time!

If your friends and family would seriously judge you for finding happiness and wanting to be able to spend the rest of your life with someone in a loving and committed relationship then OH MY GOD SERIOUSLY FUCK THEM FOREVER FOREVER IN THE PITS OF HELL.

Jesus wept, I don't care if it takes you a dozen tries. Everyone deserves to be happy.
posted by elizardbits at 5:14 PM on January 13, 2013 [50 favorites]

If you act like a young, first-time bridezilla and throw a crazy wedding you can't afford, people are going to roll their eyes behind your back but will probably still be happy for you anyway. If you just get married without any drama (which includes a range of options, from wedding to elopement), people will just be happy for you.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:22 PM on January 13, 2013 [18 favorites]

I'm married for the third time, going on 12 years. Very happy, and if anyone has a negative opinion of it I've never heard about it.

I have a happily married aunt who just celebrated her 20th anniversary with her third husband. And I have a cousin who is happily married to his third wife and they have two darling little girls, a beautiful family.

Third time is a charm, for some people.

There is some perception out there that multiple marriages are an indication that a person is unstable, but as far as I can tell it is usually one factor amongst a list of issues a person has, not just "she's been married three times, what a flake." The rest of who you are counts a lot more in most people's minds than how many times you've been married.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:23 PM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Your circumstances are unusual. Get married, be happy!

(But if your last two weddings were big gift-giving, shower-throwing affairs then you might want to not do that with this one. Obviously celebrations are wonderful and your loved ones will be hoping three times's the charm, but things like destination weddings, bridesmaid dress outlays, gift registries etc are probably not things you want to ask people to do for you more than once.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:26 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Okay, so, yeah, I'll be honest, it's a bit odd to hear about someone on a third marriage in their early 30s. HOWEVER, you get a pass on the first marriage (you were young; it was obviously a bad situation), and now you are a widow. You did not divorce. Your second marriage ending is not your fault. Not that divorce is always bad -- but, you did not choose to end that marriage.

The red flag I see is that you have jumped into a very serious relationship when you are still blaming yourself for the end of your second marriage. I also suspect you haven't spent much time being single as an adult. Did the relationship with your current partner begin before your second husband died? Or very soon after? I really worry that you are not self-reliant.

You also don't seem to make the best choices around marriage (I'm sorry that's so blunt, but I'm hoping that's what you want). Why did you and your second husband marry when you did? Was there a rough patch already happening that you were trying to fix?

I do question having someone move in with you and your daughter so soon after her stepdad died. I'm not sure that's the healthiest thing for her.

I can also say that inheritance laws do vary depending on the state. So regardless, please make sure you have a will and have a designated guardian for your child, and do not count on that all happening smoothly everywhere. In some states, it all could have been very messy and you wouldn't necessarily have inherited everything.

All in all, don't avoid marriage only because it's the third. If you have other issues on your mind, go talk to a therapist. And there really is no reason to rush, I promise. There is nothing lost by taking things slowly. It sounds like you still might be grieving the end of your second marriage, and please do give yourself space for that. Work that out. We don't want you back here in a couple of years asking about a fourth marriage at age 35.

And, yes, I think I'd suggest a smaller ceremony for the third. Best of luck to you.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:31 PM on January 13, 2013 [16 favorites]

You have NOT 'failed' in any way --- your 1st ex was abusive (HIS problem, not yours), and your 2nd committed suicide (again, HIS problem, not yours). YOU were not the abusive or troubled person in either marriage.

If you'd been married several more times, then perhaps yes, it might indeed be you --- the common denominator --- with the problem; for example, one of my uncles is currently in the middle of his seventh divorce. Yes, some of his wives have had problems of their own, but the common theme of all seven divorces is my uncle's inability to keep his damn dick in his pants.

I hope you find lasting joy and happiness with your new love; after all, remember that 'third time's the charm!'
posted by easily confused at 5:34 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I recently attended a dear friend's sixth wedding and every guest was 100% thrilled for the couple.

This is your life, no one else's.

But don't get married for the paperwork. Get a lawyer to help you both draw up wills and assign beneficiaries on your accounts, and you can take as much time as you feel you need before getting married.
posted by payoto at 5:34 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Some people will always look askance at you for being married for a third time. Heck, some people will always look askance at you just for your first divorce. That is not a reason why you should forgo your own happiness and a life with someone whom you love deeply.

Some people no doubt go through multiple marriages due to a lack of personal integrity, but that does not mean that everyone who gets married multiple times lacks integrity. I tend to think that a lack of personal integrity might be a contributing factor in a person's cycle of divorce and marriage, but that multiple marriages do not generally erode a person's existing integrity.

If you find someone who you want to marry and who wants to marry you, you should do it and do your best to shrug off the inevitable judgements that you will get from judgey people. Don't allow them to get in the way of your happiness. That said, don't get married just because you feel like you want to be married -- get married because you find someone with whom you share a deep and lasting feeling of mutual love and respect and because you want to build a shared life with that person. It is obviously OK to try and seek out that person, but don't just marry because you feel like you are happier when married or something like that.
posted by Scientist at 5:38 PM on January 13, 2013

Take every chance you get to be happy. But don't get married out of fear or doubt. Does he make you happy? Would you be even happier if you were married? Would he? Would your daughter? Be happy.
posted by Etrigan at 5:38 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're holding yourself responsible for the "failure" of both your previous marriages, and that seems incredibly unfair to yourself. In your first marriage, you were the victim of abuse. In the second, you were widowed. Neither of these things is your fault, and if you are beating yourself up over them, then it might be good to talk through it with a therapist.

If you were my friend or family member, I would just be really happy that you'd found joy again after such tragedy.

The only thing other reason I'd suggest talking with a therapist is that you might want to just check and make sure there are no red flags with this new guy you're missing in the honeymoon stage, especially given how quickly you've moved in together, started talking aout marriage after such a traumatic event. Are there any signs (minor abuse warning signals, mental health issues) that could become problems later? Actually, it might be good to do some pre-marriage counseling together just to make sure you're on the same page with the important stuff.

Some people are just the marrying types. My best friend has never been single more than a few months her whole life. She married at 19, divorced at 23, met another guy a year later, moved in with him and got engaged, broke things off right a few months the wedding and was seriously dating (and moving in with) another guy a few months later. ALL of her friends (including me) were like "GIRL, chill. Be single for a while!"

But they've now been married for 5 years and are very happy and well-matched. We (her friends) were well-intentioned but wrong, and now I realize that she's just one of those people who does better when she's partnered. Incidentally, her first marriage was abusive, and her relationship with the guy she almost married was stormy, but she learned a lot from those relationships and her marriage now is very strong.

So I'd just suggest you make sure that you've really absorbed the lessons from your earlier relationships, know what to look out for, and go into this marriage with a clear head. Again, therapy is good for this.
posted by lunasol at 5:46 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm married 3 times. It's the other 2 I should have skipped.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:54 PM on January 13, 2013 [9 favorites]

You did not fail in either of your first two marriages. In your first marriage, you succeeded in freeing yourself from an abusive situation, which is more than many people have the strength to do. In your second marriage something horrible and tragic happened that isn't your fault in any way. If it will make you happy to get married, get married. If anyone has a problem with it, tell them to go to hell.
posted by Ragged Richard at 5:56 PM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Reply from OP

Thanks for all your supportive responses so far!

For the record, I eloped the first time and had my second wedding at home in a relaxed no gifts kind of setting. Both were bery enjoyable. I wanted to get married both times for the marriage, not the wedding, as a show of support and solidarity to the relationship.

My current partner and I have been friends for a long time and he was very supportive when my husband first passed away. Things 'happened' as they do, and I am comfortable with the start of our relationship. I suppose it may be viewed as being quite soon but because we were long distance I have spent those months by myself and supporting myself and my daughter physically and emotionally most of the time. His move over here seemed perfectly natural to me, and as we were friends before hand he is able to understand that my grief peaks and troughs still, and we work through that.

When thinking of getting married, I am talking about sometime in the distant future. It's not something I want to set a date for or say 5 years or whatever. Just that I don't want to say that I'm never getting married again. Which makes me realise that I seem to be overly concerned about what people think, AKA feeling guilty for what has happened.

I am aware that I have the guilts, which is normal in these circumstances, and it's something I am working very hard towards being able to let go of with some outside help as many of you suggested. I think your reponses have highlighted that.

Thanks so much for all your kindness, I am very happy now and I am just going to enjoy the next few years and make sure that I do the right things for myself and my daughter. I do believe in marriage and I do see myself making that commitment in the future, hopefully for the right reasons and not out of fear. As someone said, those legal issues can be sorted out in other ways.
posted by Youremyworld at 6:11 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

When someone asks a question about public opinion, I always remember the advice of a teacher who said, when facing an audience remember that their willingness to accept you falls on a bell curve--about fifteen percent have decided after one look they already hate you and whatever you are going to say and another fifteen percent are prepared to love you and accept everything you say. The group in the middle are going to give you a fair hearing and make up their minds on merit--they are the only ones you need concern yourself with. He was talking about public speaking but the bell curve idea is helpful in many questions of public opinion.

I say if you want to marry you should marry. When someone confronted Elizabeth Taylor about her numerous marriages, she said, "At least I marry them," meaning that she didn't simply take lovers as was common in Hollywood. To her, her lovers were worthy of marrying.

Full disclosure: I've been married three times. None of them lasted forever and I ended all of them. Each of them was valuable for different reasons. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed about marrying a third time but I'm very glad now I didn't pass up the chance. I have some wonderful memories.
posted by Anitanola at 6:31 PM on January 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

My aunt was married to her third husband for 30+ years before he died. My father in law has been married to his third wife for 25 years, and together they raised their two kids and contributed to raising two kids from earlier marriages. My step-father-in-law has been married to his third wife for 22 years and is going strong. My former boss was married to her third husband for 25 years when she found out he was cheating; she swore off marriage and was single for several years before falling in love with her fourth husband, with whom she hopes to spend the rest of her days. I admire all these people and deeply respect them. Fuck anyone who says that their decisions to love and be loved -- with all the risks that entails -- reflect anything negative about who they are or about what it is to be human.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:33 PM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

You are trying to build a healthy, happy life for yourself in the midst of both common adult experiences as well as extraordinary personal circumstances. Anyone who would begrudge that has a pretty worthless opinion.

Very close friends or family might have a reason to ask, "Have you thought this through?" if you rushed from unhappy marriage to unhappy marriage time and again, remaining unhappy and without recognizing the pattern. (And even then, your choices would be yours to make.)


I was at the point of asking him to get help for the sake of our relationship

This is a totally valid and healthy thing. You did not cause or hasten your husband's suicide by expressing concern for him and concern for your marriage. If you find that you can't believe that, I suggest you connect with either a therapist or a support organization for people who have lost loved ones to suicide.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:40 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think we judge on the cases of multiple marriages where it seems like they hop in and out quickly and drama-y, a la movie stars. I think in your case, you should get a free pass on both of yours.

Though yeah, maybe a little couples therapy before you take the plunge wouldn't hurt, just to make sure things are going well this time.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:00 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

How is your daughter doing? It must be difficult to have an abusive father and a stepfather who took his own life.

If you were without a daughter, I'd say go ahead. But I'm concerned about how she feels and how she's doing.
posted by discopolo at 7:06 PM on January 13, 2013 [8 favorites]

My husband is on his third marriaage, I am on my second. It is not a perfect marriage, but it is 20 years old. Anecdata for you
posted by bebrave! at 7:07 PM on January 13, 2013

Oh and if you add the boyfriend/SO/living partner that committed suicide after 4 years together there'd be FOUR of them.
Marry or not marry. Love as much as you can.
posted by bebrave! at 7:13 PM on January 13, 2013

My dad is on his third marriage. I adore my stepmother and would be incredibly sad not to have her in my life because of What People Might Think about my dad being married three times.
posted by Sara C. at 7:15 PM on January 13, 2013

My wife's third marriage is her best one!
posted by The Deej at 7:35 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh and not to just make 3 comments now but I have a BFF that has been married 10x at least. I have known her thru 4 or 5 of them. She has loved them all and they, her. We are 50-60. Other people's relationships are sometimes mysterious!
posted by bebrave! at 7:44 PM on January 13, 2013

Is your daughter happy?

Her first. Marriage second.

If this relationship is giving her angst... Work it out in her favor, not at her expense.

I PROMISE you that nothing else matters!
posted by jbenben at 8:13 PM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

I would be happy for you if you were to get married again, especially if you two were together for a few years.
posted by kat518 at 8:42 PM on January 13, 2013

Response by poster: Reply from OP

Thank you to those who have asked about my daughter.

Her father cares for her deeply and he has a new lovely partner and close family so I know she is loved and happy there. Hopefully he has worked on his own issues and should any controlling/abuse issues arise I will deal with them as best as I can.

She wasn't particularly close to my husband as he was a very solitary fellow however she was distressed by his death and the circumstances. Her relationship with my new partner is very strong and much closer than with my husband. However she would not be ready for another marriage right now. I think that her feelings would be one of the major factors in determining the timing, if/when it becomes an official plan.
posted by Youremyworld at 8:51 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

My mum just got married in November. It was the third marriage for her (my dad was her second husband) and the second for my stepdad. My dad is also getting married next year (the third and second time respectively for him and his fiancée, who is a widow). None of our friends or family think any the less of either of them for it—it hadn't even occurred to me that they would. They are all 50+ but I also have friends in their mid-late twenties who have been married and divorced, once or even twice, and the same goes for them.

Only you and your partner can decide whether marriage is the right step for you, practically and emotionally speaking. I think people generally understand that these days. I also expect that those who know you well enough that they know this would be your third marriage also have at least a little idea of the tough times you've come through, and would be happy that you've found this stable relationship. Good luck!
posted by daisyk at 3:19 AM on January 14, 2013

Your worry is based on the idea that knowing (or thinking that you know) what your friends and family think of you is ever going to provide you with a sense of enlightenment or happiness. If you love the man, if you can see being with him in the long term, and if he's consistently shown a great attitude toward you, your kid, random wait staff, and random pets, marry the bugger. People n' things will fall into place.

And anyone who still disagrees can just sit on the sidelines of the family gathering or friendly dinner party and pout. (No, seriously, people who actually matter will see that you're happy and turn their minds to other things after a few months.)
posted by DisreputableDog at 3:58 AM on January 14, 2013

The marriage here is kind of irrelevant. The fact is, you are moving in with this guy before you have had a reasonable time to assess whether he is a good parent for your daughter. You have not spent any time with him and her in the same city. I would definitely judge you for that. You should take it more slowly, for her sake. As a side note - you aren't sure that your ex has dealt with his abusive conduct? Then why is your daughter in shared custody? And why wasn't she close to your second husband? All of this seems like, indeed, you are not putting her first but are jumping to get committed before assessing whether the man is good for your daughter.
posted by yarly at 6:24 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a judgmental busybody but I wouldn't raise an eyebrow at you getting married a third time, given the sad circumstances of your first marriage and that you were widowed. I would feel weird being invited to a third wedding, if it were a big to-do.

I agree with other people that you shouldn't rush it, though, and that your daughter should be your first priority. (Which she may well be -- I don't want to imply that she isn't.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:34 AM on January 14, 2013

Best answer: If you were my friend I would love to hear of you beginning a happy new chapter in your life, no matter how many chapters were in that book. Are there gossipy people in your life that would keep count? Probably. Fuck em.

Celebrities throw big extravagant parties, at which they happen to get married. People are irked at the nth wedding, where a couple gets treated royally, spend tons of money, elaborate gifts are expected, etc.

This doesn't sound like the kind of thing you're talking about.

Marriage has real, legal benefits and implications. These are benefits that people have been fighting and dying for. You should absolutely have no shame in availing yourself of them to create a stable, legally recognized family structure.

Plus, like, you love this person! Yay!
posted by fontophilic at 9:53 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm the son of a 3rd marriage. (all before 30yo) that 3rd marriage is still going strong.

I won't lie and say it was not a complicated family dynamic with children from previous marriages. But there is no 3rd marriage scarlet letter.
posted by French Fry at 1:35 PM on January 14, 2013

I have been married three times, and we have just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.

In my first two marriages, I was less mature and thought a great deal more of my own needs and wants than those of my wives.

Your life, your contentment and serenity are far more important than what other people may think of having three marriages.
posted by psc1860 at 6:09 PM on January 14, 2013

I'm the child of both parent's second marriages, and my dad later married for a third time - he's just celebrated his 25th anniversary, and I get on really well with my stepmother. I wish you all the luck in the world!
posted by tardigrade at 2:23 PM on February 2, 2013

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