Re-marriage: The triumph of hope over experience - Samuel Johnson
When Elizabeth Taylor got married in October of 1991, the world media stifled a collective little giggle. Nevermind that she chose Michael Jackson's ranch for her nuptials, nevermind that a parachutist crashed the ceremony or that the she had met her intended groom, a construction worker, in drug rehab...the reason the world snickered was that this wasn't Miss Taylor's first wedding, or third, or even fifth. Larry Fortensky was destined to become Taylor's eighth husband...or seventh, if you consider that she married Richard Burton twice.
Eight marriages in fifty-nine years. That gives a whole new meaning to the term "seven year itch." Many people predicted their marriage wouldn't last, and they were right. Fortensky and Taylor divorced in 1996.
Taylor was not the only Hollywood icon to try serial matrimony. Zsa Zsa Gabor said "I do" nine times, although one of those marriages lasted only a day and wasn't legal because her previous divorce wasn't final. Mickey Rooney has also tied the knot nine times, all of them legal. Ernest Borgnine and Elizabeth Montgomery have both been married five times, and just about everyone else in Hollywood seems to have remarried at least once.
No one really takes the much-married seriously, whether they're Hollywood stars or normal, average folk. Anyone who marries more than, say, three times, becomes the subject of raised eyebrows and snide jokes. They obviously can't stay married, their detractors say. They obviously don't treat the institution with the respect it deserves.
The truth is, they do.
Anyone who has seen their marriage fall apart, who has gone through the strife of divorce and faced the years of loneliness that can come afterwards, and yet still values marriage enough to enter into it again deserves to be commended for their courage and dedication to happiness. They value marriage perhaps more than anyone, and certainly more than couples who remain in wedlock for years after the love between them is gone.
It can't be easy, signing your name on a marriage license for the eighth or ninth time. You can't come away from so many marriages without at least some hesitation, some hurt, some doubt as to whether you will be signing divorce papers, again, very soon. But this, perhaps, is where the much-married rise above the rest of us: they don't allow cynicism to tarnish their belief in marriage.
It's very easy to become cynical, to take a bad experience and paint the rest of your future with the same black brush. Many divorced people swear off marriage forever, vow that they will never put themselves in that position again, declare that marriage is a sad illusion they won't fall for twice. They never stop to consider that marriage isn't an illusion; who they were married to, and what they thought was real love, was the illusion.
The much-married seem to understand this simple truth. No matter how stormy, how turbulent, how shocking or upsetting their break up, they always seem to stay centered enough to understand that this marriage didn't work out but another one might. They seem to learn quickly that the person they thought they were in love with was probably a projection of their own fantasies and not really the love of their life at all. Most importantly, they don't let that person, or persons, scar them for life, and they don't punish future lovers with ghosts of lovers past. They don't fall in love with a person and say to them "I won't let you experience marriage with me because I didn't enjoy it when I did it with someone else."
They know that marriage is the height of romance, and that for them, unfortunately, it might take more than once to get it right. The fact that they are willing to try again, that they are indeed willing to let hope blossom in spite of bitter experience, is a testament to the strength of their character, the goodness of their hearts, their belief that happiness is attainable and something they deserve, and that marriage, even in the face of divorce, is worth whatever risks their bruised hearts might perceive.
How can we laugh at that? We should all be so bright eyed and optimistic.
If anyone deserves happiness in marriage, it is those who have doggedly pursued it, unapologetically, shamelessly, with pride, again, and again...and again.