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Warmest regards: First love versus new love

By Pattie Mihalik

One of the offshoots of the coronavirus is that so much enforced time indoors gives us a lot more time to think, to reflect, to ruminate.

One of the things I find myself thinking about this week are the differences between long-term first marriages and newer second marriages.

The classic song says love’s more comfortable the second time around, like a friendly home, the second time you call.

My take on it is that older, second marriages require more adjustments.

When we’re married the first time we are normally young and open to flexibility.

I compare first marriages to two pieces of unformed clay. Through the years we help form each other as we grow together.

With second marriages, especially between older and more seasoned adults, we generally go into the marriage with years of different viewpoints, habits and expectations.

David must have been a bit concerned about expectations because he had one important request on our wedding night.

He asked me not to compare him to my first husband. “I’m not Andy,” he said. “I don’t want you to expect me to be like him.”

There is something reverent about the start of a new union. I promised I would abide by David’s request, and it was an easy promise to keep. Both were innately good men with strong, solid values, but with many differences.

I had a wedding night request, too.

My wedding gift to David was a photograph I took of an older farming couple carrying a bushel basket filled with potatoes. The basket would have been too heavy for either one to carry but it became doable when the husband took one handle and the wife took the other handle, sharing their load as they walked across the field.

That picture spoke to my heart because it was about growing older while sharing life’s load.

It’s definitely what David and I have been able to do as we grow old together.

There have been times when we have had to adjust our different expectations - expectations we formed over the years with different individuals.

For instance, I have always believed in roles. As I woman, I have always thought my role was cooking and taking care of the home.

I regard things like doing repairs, or anything mechanical “guy things.”

David, on the other hand, believes a husband and wife should share everything.

When he was tiling the bathroom floor and painting the exterior of our house, he expected me to help, based on what he was used to in his first marriage.

We’ve definitely had to change our expectations, keeping in mind we each have different interests and skill sets.

On occasion he complained I never listen to him when he told me to take my car to his mechanic but I stayed with the one I’ve had for years.

“Why don’t you ever listen to me?” he asked.

I told him it was God’s fault.

I explained God gave separate brains to men and women, expecting them each to use them rather than just giving one brain to a couple.

There are times when we each make our own decisions, taking into consideration the feelings of our spouse then ultimately doing what we believe is right.

When I talk to other older couples experiencing second marriages, they agree that more compromises are needed during second marriages.

And no matter how old you are, there will be plenty of newness in a second marriage.

That’s both good and bad.

David and I are much more suited to each other’s lifestyle because we both love the outdoors and both thrive on an active lifestyle.

We are grateful for all the big and small ways we are alike. Something small: We both love flavored coffee. I don’t have to make two different kinds of coffee like l did before.

Something big: We both are “stickers.” We believe in sticking together for life through thick and thin.

When it’s a second marriage, partners are often older and smarter. We’ve seen enough of life to know what is important and what isn’t.

We truly don’t sweat the small stuff. And most of what would have set us off when we were younger is all small stuff.

David says that means fewer arguments and more contentment. I think he’s probably right.

I often compare notes with other women that have second marriages. It’s amazing how many of us have the same experiences - and how we now laugh at what would have seemed like a problem years ago.

Our lives in later years don’t center around careers or raising children. Instead, we are in a delightful stage where we have more opportunity for fun and adventure. We know we are blessed when we have a partner that enjoys sharing those adventures with us.

After I married David I did something I had longed to do all my life. I bought a secondhand boat.

I was going to name the boat Second Time Around, recognizing our marriage and the boat were second-time joys.

Instead, we settled on Twice Blessed.

We believe that says it all.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.