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Love and marriage: not just for kids anymore

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

Next Saturday my partner of 10 years and I will be married. Again. It will be the third time each of us has taken a whack at matrimony.

Since Lisa and I are both 0-for-2, the pageantry, as you might imagine, will be toned down this time. But that lack of pomp — our sunset backyard ceremony will include a taco man, some booze, good music, and a few close friends and family — is by no means an indicator of an absence of reverence; we’re both aware of the rarity of it all, and finding such a profound, life-altering love at our ages (I’m 58 and my bride-to-be is 51) is only part of it.

We came together by chemical reaction. It was, well, magic. There was no denying the intense pheromonal pull.

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But, we were both married at the time. To get to a place where we could be together meant upending both of our marriages. There was a kind, rational, methodical path to get there. But we didn’t take that route. I did things I am not proud of. People were hurt. We’re 10 years past that now, and the scars are still there for my older kids. I’ll live with that forever.

But so are we, Lisa and I. We’re still here. We’ve weathered the multi-level chaos our relationship created initially, and let me tell you, it was a lot of chaos. Through those years of upheaval, our love for and dedication to one another never wavered. To say it was meant to be would be selling it short. It was automatic from day one. And she fascinates me, still. I’ve never spent a minute with her over the past 10 years in anything other than joyful gratitude.

Now that we’re physically able to combine our family of nine (!) kids, with all but four launched out into to the world, we are going to be living together for the first time. Lisa’s nervous about how that proximity might alter our thus far flawless dynamic. Things will be different for sure. But I’m committed to dialing back my OCD about messy kids and dishwasher loading (there IS a correct way! … Oops, slipped there). Aside from my own neuroses, I can’t see how our in-person partnership will bring anything other than more joy to our kids and us.

And about those scars: I’m hopeful this new chapter will help to heal those as well. Our house will be livelier, louder and more vibrant. I believe many of the by now ancient grievances will be eased by the joyful noise and good vibes in store.

The bottom line is we only get so much life. Nobody’s giving out trophies for sucking it up and denying ourselves a more fully realized version. I walked through fire to get to this day. I made mistakes. But I know now, after 10 years of road behind me, that I did the best I could in the aftermath of blowing up my life. I’m proud of the man I am today.

To be completely honest, punishing one’s self for letting people down can only go on for so long. At some point we have to forgive ourselves, make amends where possible, and endeavor to be better. Otherwise, we get stuck in a moment. And that’s a slow death.

I hit the life lotto with Lisa. Her love has transformed me into a better version of me. I am going to relish the days I have with her, because every single one is a gift of uncomplicated, fully present, joyous love.

I hope by modeling a committed, supportive, loving relationship, my kids will see what that looks like, and make good choices in their own lives.

In the meantime, our wedding awaits. Our honeymoon will be spent half in the California high desert at the sweet little rental house we’ve been frequenting for a decade, and half on the beach in Ventura, at the modest, slightly shabby hotel that’s served as our coastal getaway for about as long. We thought about a grand trip to Hawaii or elsewhere, but, like our backyard wedding, it just felt like something simple and understated was a better fit.

So here’s to love. Here’s to perseverance. Here’s to all the older folks out there who are alone, wondering if maybe it’s just not in the cards. It’s not too late. Your own Lisa may still be out there.

1 Comment

  1. Morgan Dyson

    Mick, this is so lovely! Thanks for giving us a peek into your and Lisa’s time spent together. Lisa is one of my favorite humans (we endured the Citrus College math class gauntlet together!) and she consistently amazes me with her capacity for joy and love. Congratulations to you both, and I look forward to celebrating with you, soon.

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