There is one question I am asked more than any other. Without fail, if someone gets to know me, they invariably ask, "Why aren't you looking for someone? Don't you want to get remarried again some day?"
I am the kind of man who set his sights on a marriage lasting forever. As far as I was concerned, the life I had with my wife and daughter was a life I had chosen for myself, and I decided to make the very best of it. For my part, my life was a good one. I guess that's what happens when you decide to make the best of something; you tend to notice the best, and look past the worst. All the other stuff in between is just varying shades of life. Much of it doesn't even make its way into a recallable memory.
Whenever I am asked about my future with a woman, I hesitate in my answer. I do so not because I don't know what to say, but because realistically, my answer may well have changed since the last time I was asked. So I think about it.
Recently, I was asked again, and I answered, "I had a wife, and before I was married, I never really considered the fact that the divorce rate was fifty percent or better. In fact, it never even crossed my mind; I guess I just didn't believe it would be something I had to concern myself with. Now, I am very aware of that statistic, and as I recall the days of my youth, I find it hard to believe that I was so blind to the bad risk that marriage is these days. Knowing what I know now, and what I should have known then, I can't honestly say I m willing to take the risk again, at least not right now."
My questioner didn't think this was a complete answer, so she questioned me further. "Yeah, but what about being in love? Don't you want someone to care about you?" I guess maybe my answer was honest, because she blinked hard as I gave it.
"I am almost thirty-nine years old, and although I have been married, I have never had a woman care about me in the way you believe one would. My former wife made it very clear that she never loved me to begin with. Is it true, that you have to love in order to consistently care about someone? Because if that's what you're talking about, then being near forty, I can tell you that 'no, I don't need someone to care about me, I've lived this long without it and I am sure I can live the next forty years without it as well' ".
She asked, "Your ex-wife never loved you? Didn't she ever say she loved you? If not, why did you marry her?"
"Of course she said she loved me, quite often, actually. She once told me she had never felt the way I made her feel before, just before she said 'I love you' for the first time. I asked her about all of those times, about all of those things. Do you know what she told me?" My questioner blinked hard again, and shook her head, no.
"She told me it was all lies, that she used me, and that if she had to rate her life with me, she would have judged me as 'unsatisfactory' ". I let that little tidbit hang in the air for a moment before I added, "One doesn't get past words like that very quickly, especially not when one is already as low emotionally as one can get."
"But you are past them now, aren't you?" She asked.
"Yeah, for the most part, but there are still times I hear those words, and there are still times I think of how my daughter felt through all of this, and those are the times that I realize we never really get ALL the way past everything. We crawl past, and sometimes we take leaps past, but the tentacles of our past are always reaching out for us, no matter how hard or fast we run from them. In answer to your question, I am no longer consumed by them, but I have not forgotten them either. Forgiveness is easy; healing myself was not."
"So then you have hang ups about trust." she continued to question.
"I don't think it's a trust issue. I think it's a 'do I really want to get married again?' issue, and I just haven't answered that question yet. The risk involved is not in favor of success, and that doesn't give me a great deal of confidence in it. I know for my part, I can make a marriage work. But I cannot make my partner make it work, and if that's a trust issue, then, yeah, maybe I don't trust a woman to carry through on her vows."
"Sure sounds like a trust issue to me" my interrogator said.
I guess we all have hangups about certain things. Will I ever get married again? I honestly do not know. But I do know this; I have never had a woman care about me the way a wife supposedly cares about a husband, and I am almost thrity-nine years old. I guess I really don't need someone to care about me, do I?
Would I like someone to? Maybe. I don't really know, because I don't know what it feels like. All I know is what faking it looks like.