Take Two (or Three Or Four)

By Tawny Maya McCray

January 11, 2019 6 min read

Sometimes it takes more than once to get things right, and that can go for marriage, too. It's one of the biggest decisions we ever make and one of the hardest commitments to keep. There are many reasons why marriages don't last. But that doesn't mean you have to throw in the towel and never try again. Giving marriage a second, or third, shot can make all the difference.

Monica Harrison, 58, has been married three times. She met and married her first husband when she was a teenager. They had three kids together and were married for 24 years before he passed away in 2000. Her second marriage lasted four years. She married her third and current husband, Roberto, two years ago, after meeting him through the online dating site Plenty of Fish.

"I went on Plenty of Fish and I had one date and it scared me to death and so I got off, and then decided to get on again two weeks later. Roberto had a picture of he and his brother on there and I put a happy face on it."

And so it began. Harrison said from there they started talking online for about 10 days and then she finally gave him her phone number. After a week of talking on the phone, Roberto wanted to meet for lunch.

"It was raining and we went to a nice little restaurant and had a great time," she recalled.

She said they continued talking on the phone for another week and the week after that he proposed.

"He said, 'Why don't we get married?' So, we got married the following Friday. And we've been happily ever after since that day."

Harrison says their relationship has not been without its hardships, though. In their relatively short amount of time together, they have endured the death of her father, the deaths of five of Roberto's family members, and they have moved from Arkansas to Texas in a U-Haul.

"We were definitely tested right off the bat, so we must be a pretty darn tough couple," she said. "We just did one thing at a time and just got through it and supported each other."

Shannon (who declined to give her last name) was 22 the first time she got married. She and her first husband were married for 13 years and had one son together. They split when their son was young. She married her current husband, Matt, when her son was 6 years old. They have been married for 17 years.

"My son always tells people he has two dads," Shannon said.

Shannon says her son and Matt are very close, and she and her ex have a very good and positive relationship. Her son is away at college now but when he is home the four of them make sure to spend time together.

"We really do have a great time when we are together. It's a healthy and loving dynamic. We are all very comfortable being around each other. We even hang out when our son isn't around."

Shannon says people are often shocked when they see how well the four of them get along, but most are supportive and happy that they make it work.

"I think people that are in second marriages wish that they had this type of relationship with their ex," she said. "We feel blessed to have our 'modern family'."

Shannon says the most important thing is to think of the child first.

"The child's happiness is the number one priority. I feel if the grownups are comfortable with the situation then the child will be too."

For Jennifer Kawa, having two marriages under her belt, and now a 5-year-old daughter, has made her re-evaluate what it is that she wants and for now that's putting marriage on the back burner.

Kawa, 43, married her first husband at 24 and it lasted a year and a half. She married her second husband at 29, and they were married for five years.

"I was too young both times, in my honest opinion. I wasn't emotionally mature enough. I was not a good communicator and I think that will tank any marriage."

Kawa learned that she was sacrificing her likes, wants and needs in order to make her partner happy or to avoid conflict. But those bottled up emotions came pouring out "in an ugly mess." Says Kawa, "In the end I'd just resent them."

Kawa says the No. 1 thing she'd look for in a future husband would be someone she can communicate with comfortably, easily and openly. But she's not looking for one anytime soon.

"Realistically, I know I don't have it in me to offer what I need to be in a successful relationship or marriage. I'm definitely not looking for another failed marriage, so until I feel I can come to the table with the time, energy and focus I need to be a successful partner, I'll be happy focusing on my very important job of motherhood."

Kawa says she does see herself marrying later in life, though, and maybe the third time will be the charm.

It was for Harrison.

"Everything just was very comfortable and it seems like we've always been together," Harrison said of her marriage to Roberto. "He always says he wishes he would've met me 30 years ago and had more time."

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