"You shouldn't get married again. You should just shack up."
I'm not sure exactly how the topic of conversation -- remarriage -- came up in casual conversation, but it did. It's not unusual, really; I have, on numerous occasions, reminded Beloved Husband that in the unlikely event of my untimely demise, he should find a new wife. And I've pointed this out to many people, including all of the women in the office, so that, in the unlikely event of my untimely demise, there will be other people who might have in their heads the idea that a woman they know might make a good wife for Beloved Husband. He needs a wife. I would not want him to be lonely.
(I know it might seem grim to contemplate this. In this expanse of middle-age, though, the realities of one's temporary time on this planet are abundantly clear. Even when we hope and pray that the Grim Reaper will not darken the doorstep for many more decades, we know far too well that Heartbreaking Things Sometimes Happen.)
I was surprised, though, by the admonishment that I myself shouldn't get remarried. And I'll admit that one of my first internal reactions was a petulant thought of I should get remarried right away just because I've been told not to do so, which is a completely ridiculous reaction. It's not as though I could just remarry by myself -- it obviously involves a second person, and thus some serious time and consideration to get to know that someone and decide that they would be a good partner.
(Not to mention, the tsunami of grief associated with the loss of someone So Very Important, that would have to be borne. I don't think about that part. I cannot.)
Why not get remarried, I asked in response to the advice I'd received. Apparently "it would complicate the money." Erm, what money? At this point in my life, with two Offspring in college and a third nearly there, plus a change in career, I'm worth more from a life insurance point of view than from any other view. Besides, in the event that I were to miraculously inherit a giant pile of money, there are things like prenuptial agreements that would help ensure that a future spouse wouldn't be marrying me solely in the hopes of getting hands on my cash. Not really an issue.
In the end, I explained that, if the unthinkable happened and Beloved Husband were to shuffle off this mortal coil sooner rather than later, I would ultimately be willing to get remarried if I were to meet the right person.
I was very young when I got married -- just having turned 24. I had spent the previous three-plus years in a long distance relationship with Beloved Husband, and I had no idea about what it would be like to even see the man I love on a daily basis, let alone what I wanted marriage to be like. He and I have grown into our selves together. Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, I have a very good idea about the joys of having a spouse, about the pitfalls that can befall any relationship, and about the work and the pleasure of building a mutual life together.
I now know myself: I know what I want, and what I do not want. I know what I need. And I know what kinds of sacrifices I am willing to make for another person.
I know to appreciate someone who listens and tries to understand, who searches for the right words to help me feel better, who does not walk away when times are tough. I am grateful when my efforts are appreciated and supported. I find joy when someone makes me laugh. I realize that little gestures are important to help someone else to feel loved. I understand that each day is a new day, not only to remember heartwarming moments in the past, but also to build new moments again and again.
(Thank you, Beloved Husband, for your part in these Life Lessons. I am grateful for all we have learned together.)
If the situation arose, I would take what I have learned in being married to Beloved Husband, and in due time, go out into the world and consider trying again. There would be no replacing him, for he is Unique in all the Universe. Nevertheless, I would not be afraid of eventually contemplating a commitment to another person. And I truly hope he would do the same, if the situation were reversed.
In the end, life is too short not to love - and I would rather risk having my heart broken, than leave it untouched on a shelf evermore.