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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Second marriage

It's a second chance for commitment, compromise, courage

I've just finished playing Purcell's Trumpet Voluntary. From my perch on the organ bench, I look at Michael and Rhoda. Today is their wedding day. Both are in their early 40s. Michael's 10-year-old son from his previous marriage is his best man; Rhoda's maid of honor is her 9-year-old daughter from her first marriage. Michael and Rhoda look hopeful. So do Cody and Hannah. It's a second marriage, a second chance.

I look at Michael and Rhoda's pastor, my husband, and smile. Six years ago we stood at this altar and got our second chance at marriage. My first husband and I had been divorced for three years. Bob had been divorced for 13 years.

"... the gift of the family can become a burden."

My attention is drawn back to the wedding as Bob reads from the liturgy in the Lutheran Book of Worship. I think how prophetic these words can be, especially in second marriages where there are relationships with children, in-laws and spouses from other unions. When Bob and I married, his son was 15; my daughter was 7, and my son 5.

My attention is drawn back to the wedding as Bob reads from the liturgy in the Lutheran Book of Worship. I think how prophetic these words can be, especially in second marriages where there are relationships with children, in-laws and spouses from other unions. When Bob and I married, his son was 15; my daughter was 7, and my son 5.

We were lucky. Bob's son,Will, was gracious, loving and accepting. My children were thrilled with the whole adventure of Mom getting married. Bob later adopted Nora Kate and Rivers. His willingness to adopt my children gave me confidence about our marriage. Here was commitment!

"... to join with you and share all that is to come ..."

Well, maybe not everything, I think wryly as Bob continues with the service. I wonder how Michael and Rhoda will work out spending their holidays.

Well, maybe not everything, I think wryly as Bob continues with the service. I wonder how Michael and Rhoda will work out spending their holidays.

Bob and I ran into a few adjustments when it came to holidays, especially Thanksgiving. Bob had always visited his parents — about a four-hour drive away. I like to cook dinner and spend Thanksgiving at home with friends and family. For the first two years, the children and I went with Bob to his parents' home.

Now Nora Kate, Rivers and I spend Thanksgiving at our home and have family and friends to dinner. Bob spends this time with his family. Although this compromise may seem strange, we agree it works for us. Flexibility is a must in second marriages. Partners may need to establish new family traditions for holidays or compromise as Bob and I did.

"... that you may find delight in each other and grow in holy love ..."

I wonder with amusement if Rhoda knows whether or not Michael snores. I discovered that Bob sure does. Finding delight in one' s spouse is hard at 1:30 a.m. as you wonder how on earth someone who snores that loudly doesn't wake himself up. Of course, this can happen in first marriages too. This time around, though, I try harder to not "sweat the small stuff." What's a night or two on the couch anyway?

I wonder with amusement if Rhoda knows whether or not Michael snores. I discovered that Bob sure does. Finding delight in one' s spouse is hard at 1:30 a.m. as you wonder how on earth someone who snores that loudly doesn't wake himself up. Of course, this can happen in first marriages too. This time around, though, I try harder to not "sweat the small stuff." What's a night or two on the couch anyway?

In my first marriage, the things that drove us apart were major issues that eroded my trust — things I just couldn't live with or forgive. When I decided to marry Bob, I felt safe about his beliefs and values. I made a more conscientious, careful choice.

Bob and I make an effort to "accentuate the positive" aspects of our relationship. He likes my sense of humor, and I like his understanding nature. When I goof up the laundry or a recipe goes awry, instead of berating me, Bob calls the episode a "learning experience."

This is not to say we never argue. We do! "And it came to pass" is my favorite Bible verse. Thankfully, our arguments don't come to stay! The small things that anger us today usually don't seem as bad tomorrow. Neither of us wants to throw away this second chance.

"... and from your great store of strength give them power and patience, affection and understanding, courage, and love toward you, toward each other ..."

Watching Michael and Rhoda as Bob prays these words, I feel tears welling up. Most likely, life being what it is, they're going to need God's great store of strength and courage. I pray fervently for God's blessing on this hopeful couple. I've heard these words often, but today they touch me in a new way.

Watching Michael and Rhoda as Bob prays these words, I feel tears welling up. Most likely, life being what it is, they're going to need God's great store of strength and courage. I pray fervently for God's blessing on this hopeful couple. I've heard these words often, but today they touch me in a new way.

A few months ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I think about how I collapsed against Bob as the neurologist gave us the news. The first time Bob saw me, I was rushing to mow the grass in the church cemetery because a member had died and I wanted it to look nice for the burial. We wonder what will happen to me, to us, as we go through this disease together.

Today as I sit waiting for my cue to begin playing the recessional, these words comfort me. Neither Michael and Rhoda nor Bob and I have to draw from our own limited stores of courage, understanding and patience. We can face the trials and cares of this life together with the certain knowledge of our faith in God and our trust in that "great source of strength."

"Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, keep you in his light and truth and love now and forever."

I'm sitting at attention now, waiting to play Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee as soon as Michael and Rhoda kiss. Their faces are jubilant.

I'm sitting at attention now, waiting to play Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee as soon as Michael and Rhoda kiss. Their faces are jubilant.

I pray that God will indeed keep them in love forever. I thank God for their second chance — and for reminding me of abundant grace and the gift of marriage.


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