237 Comments

Well no name here BUT I was married 4 times! The last one lasted 44 years. Sadly he passed away last Friday…

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"If I had known better, I would have never married until I had a stronger sense of self."

The thing is, we are NEVER the same person 5, 10, 20 years later, and neither is our spouse. Until we realize that we never marry at the "right time" nor do we marry the "perfect person" but rather that marriage is a covenant of sacrificial love that we give to one person, the chances of failure are very high.

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"Don't settle". That's absurd.

No one is perfect, so thinking about marriage with the idea that you can't settle is immature in the extreme. It is also setting up this false hope that the perfect person is out there, so just keep waiting and you will sure find him or her.....someday.

What you need to do is decide whether you are able to love someone because of all their wonderful qualities and in spite of others. If you can, then you are 'settling' for the right person for you.

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founding

What a fun essay about narcissism.

“I was insecure! Those 4 women were not in my league. Look at me now though I’m still married to the 5th woman.” That’s a pretty shaky foundation for any relationship wisdom.

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Unfortunately, the author comes across as completely selfish and in love with hisself. How would Ilene ever believe he loved her when there are four others haunting the relationship?

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A swing and a miss on this one. No depth to it and self centered. The other two essays were far better

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California this morning announced it would leave Donald Trump on the ballot, not drop him as I erroneously wrote earlier. Off in Maine, on in CA.

SCOTUS needs to decide this pronto.

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Wildly self-centered and prototypical man-child who takes no responsibility for his failings and prioritizes his own happiness above all responsibilities.

This sentence says it all: "I fell in love with my coworker at the school, divorced my wife, and moved to San Diego, California." He "fell in love", totally out of his control, what was he supposed to do? You were supposed to honor your commitment to your wife and not cheat on her.

Not sure why this is on FP and certainly not sure why it won any award.

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What I want to know is the age difference between the author and Ilene

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got married to my wife at 23....we are still married and will be till one of us passes. had some rough times......but stuck with it.

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Christopher-- very true! I heartily agree. These come to some lucky ones-naturally. Other''s of us have to take the time for lots of self-reflection ad examination, and "DO THE WORK" to clear up our baggage, take responsibility for ourselves (and own happiness) before we are ready to be a good partner to anyone else!

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When I read this, the emotion it evokes is pain for the five women who were not “the one,” and the pain those divorces brought their lives. Marriage takes work. Every day - the little stuff and the big stuff. Wanting a bigger life? I wish he had found it with his wife. The most telling sentences in this essay are: “Ileen is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Ileen loves who I am and I love who I am when I’m with her.” That sums it up. My father used to remind me that “to see what something is, try to see what it isn’t.’ He didn’t say he loved her. The six marriages were about how the woman made him feel - loved and loving himself. Like a child. I hope he loves Ileen like a man.

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Top notch. Well played.

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I am the King of Second Chances in Life.

Career, Family, and Self. My wife and my daughter are the greatest treasures in my life and I know that I honestly had to go through hell to arrive at the joy that each of them are.

My first wife was funny, smart, adorable, and almost as immature as I was, even though we were in our 30's. It was a fun marriage until it wasn't but I just explain to people who pry, "It was a religious difference - I'm Roman Catholic and she was Satan..."

I lived an okay but mostly miserable seven years after my divorce, mired in self-doubt, self-pity, and emotional (and career) self-immolation until my wife and I were fixed up by our mothers shortly after 9/11 (the timing was a bit suspect but luckily not a portent).

A few years after our marriage we had a daughter, Molly who was, quite simply "the prettiest, smartest, funniest, bravest, hardest working girl in the world" as I would eulogize her barely 5 years later. Too soon, the light of our lives was snuffed out by a brain tumor despite the help and hard work of the best cancer team in the world and the dedication and love of three hospitals, our families, our friends, and our whole town and, when we buried Molly just before her sixth birthday, I knew my life was over.

I could go on for many pages about the many lessons that my wife and I learned along the way, but the most important was that time, distance, and even death can't extinguish the power and reach of a true love of a real soulmate. We each had "Soulmate" inscribed on the insides of our wedding bands but we didn't know our love would really be tried in the smelter's fire. The old expression, "I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy", really is the closest way of describing our agony to others whenever they would ask about our pain.

Almost a year after Molly left us, I heard my wife crying upstairs in our house. I walked upstairs and found her sitting in Molly's room, in Molly's little chair, clutching one of her Dora the Explorer dolls (her favorite one is buried with her in our local cemetery).

I will never get the haunting look in my wife's eyes that day out of my memory, but I also remember that, at that very instant, we both knew that we were put on this earth to be parents. She had barely finished plaintively asking, "What are we going to do?" when I blurted out, "Have another kid." We were both older and we needed to go through a couple of IVF treatments but after a year we were successful and we do have a second daughter, Catherine.

Catherine of course never will, never can, and never should replace Molly but the second chance that we now have as parents has, in a good way, helped us repay all of the strength, determination, support, and courage of all of those when we truly had no idea of how to put one foot in front of the other and keep going with our lives.

I wish that everyone in the world who is struck with misfortunes and tragedy in their lives could experience the happiness that I now have. Far from being smug and self-congratulating (I hope), I work hard on paying things forward as best I can - I hope that sharing this with you might help you or someone you know and give you some hope.

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Now this is an essay I can vote for! Blessings to you and your family Timothy!

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Reads like a lot of failed attempts/efforts, but it's always about personal decisions, isn't it? Am giving up after 2 divorces and grown children. Co-habitation, with an agreement, seems a safer, saner arrangement. Comments below appear to support notion that kids from divorces are destined to fail and that a couple should remain together regardless of dysfunction. Am not a statistician nor social worker nor psychologist/psychiatrist, BUT continuing the misery of one or both partner(s) seems inhumane.

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