First vs. Only

I was sitting in a Beaner’s coffee shop yesterday happily eating all the *extra whip* I ordered with my straw when I heard someone say something that disturbed me a little bit.

As these young ladies waited in line for their coffee’s, they were talking , as people tend to do to pass the time. I am also not in the habit of listening in on other people’s conversations, because that’s just rude. What this young lady said before and after the few words that pricked my ears up, I can not say. What I did catch was this:

“When my first husband and I….” (more banter) “We started dating in college…” (more banter), and they left soon after that. After I heard the first line, I tried to see if she was wearing some sort of wedding band; there did not seem to be one, so I will presume she is currently single/divorced.

These things caught me by surprise:

1) How young she was. I would guess late 20’s. If she were in her 30’s I’d have been surprised. A little math lesson with me if you will. If the *happy couple* started dating in college, got married soon after graduation (at 23-ish) and were divorced by 30, they must have been married only a couple of years, six on the long side.

2) She said “first husband”. To me, that implies there will be at least a second somewhere in her future. It seems that being married the *first* time is the trial, and then you can divorce, and get it right the second time, or third, like Donald Trump has tried to do, or the seventh like Elizabeth Taylor. No one ever says to their intended: “You know darling, you will be my first spouse, and when life gets difficult, and you are hard to live with, I think we’ll get divorced. You can be my “trial run”. Will you marry me?” No one in their right mind would accept that sort of marriage proposal, or would they. More accurate still is: don’t they already?

Tomorrow is my 18th Anniversary. Arnold is my *only* husband, and I don’t think I’d remarry if I were widowed. We have had our share of down’s, and farther down’s and up’s and farther up’s. There was a time when we wanted to call it quits, but we stuck it out, worked it out and worked at being married. That’s what being married is about–loving someone enough to say “You may be hard to live with, but it’s not worth leaving over.”

Now I know there are valid exceptions to her story: he could have been abusive, he could have died, he could have cheated and walked out. There are many possibilities as to why she has had a first husband at such a young age, but for so many, they just find it is a hard thing to be a *husband* or a *wife*. We teach our kids how to do laundry and cook. We need to teach them how to be *husband* or *wife*, too.

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