Years ago, I always loved the song, "Second Time Around."
But at the same time that I liked listening to Frank Sinatra croon that song, I always hated the lyrics.
I hated what it implied.
Married to Andy, I never wanted a second time around. I just wanted what I had forever, thank you very much.
Life doesn't work that way. We don't always get what we want and I didn't get the forever with Andy that I wanted.
When I was going through the grief of losing him, I never thought there would be other incredible chapters in my book of life – unexpected chapters that would give new meaning to the "Second Time Around" song.
Now, I smile when I sing it.
I bet you know the words. Sing it with me:
"Love's more comfortable the second time you fall,
Like a friendly home, the second time you call.
Who can say what brought us to this miracle we've found?
There are those who'll bet love comes but once and yet,
I'm oh so glad we met, the second time around."
Growing together in a first marriage is a special time that can never be duplicated. Those memories deserve to be honored and cherished.
A second marriage has its own charms, its own strengths and specialness. We might take marriage for granted when we're younger but few Second Time Around couples do that. They know the song is right – it's somewhat of a miracle.
When I talk with Second Time Around couples, they all say the same thing – as they grow older they are so much more aware of the blessings of marriage.
They all say a second marriage is more comfortable primarily because they are smarter now. They learned a lot of life's lessons over the years, lessons that make them appreciate marriage lessons that compel them to work hard to keep the union strong.
"I could never take this marriage for granted," says my friend Wanda who married for the second time in her late 60s. Both she and her husband lost their spouses years ago and went through some lonely years before they found each other.
"I can be a barracuda," says Tom truthfully, "but I am so much nicer now because I've mellowed with the years." He admits he treats Wanda much better than he did his first wife.
"We grow smart with age," he says. "And because we do, life is more fun than it ever was before."
I watched that happen with several of my friends and even with my own father. When he was married to my mother, my dad had a trigger temper that often erupted in violence directed at my mom.
When my mother finally left him to get away from the violence, he couldn't stop crying, saying he learned his lesson.
Both parents went on to wonderful second marriages. I was pleased when my father turned into a gentle husband the second time around.
Plenty of couples are like that. They have strong marriages because of what the partners learned in earlier marriages that failed.
"I'm not the same person now that I was during my first marriage," said my friend Jim. He's honest about taking responsibility for his failed first marriage and says he learned from his mistakes.
One night when we were out dancing, I realized the four couples at our table were each enjoying second time around marriages. From what I observe, they have happy, vibrant marriages.
They all agreed with Jim, saying they are not the same person as they were with their first spouse. They're better.
They say they are more accommodating, more willing to please each other and more determined to protect each other's feelings.
Maybe all that can be filed under "what age teaches us."
I recently interviewed an older couple that just got married for the second time after they each lost spouses. What impressed me when I went to their home was what they call their "memory corner."
One side of the living room mantle has photos of her late husband and her family. The other side has photos of his late wife and their three children.
"We honored the past," Jackie said, "but we treasure the present."
I love that sentiment because David and I feel the same way. We honor our past while we thank God every day for what we call Second Blessings.
I always tried to be a good wife but I admit I'm more easy going now and so is David. Life teaches us what is important and what's not. And the most important thing is loving each other.
When David and I married, we made our own private vow on our wedding day. We vowed to always treat each other gently. It's one vow we've both kept.
When we get second blessings, we cherish it for the miracle that it is.