I just learned that my ex-husband has remarried. I learned this as we learn about all important life milestones these days — on Facebook.
There were photos taken in the Caribbean. My ex-husband and his new bride were walking barefoot on the beach. She was carrying her shoes and their feet were wet and probably the most surprising thing to me was how sincerely I wished them well.
It is common practice to offer our best wishes when we are actually wishing nothing of the kind.
“Well,” we might say, in an exasperated tone of voice, “I wish them well.” Or even, “I wish them well with that!” Which tips one’s hand even more and makes it clear the speaker has no realistic expectation of anything going well, or any particular wish that it should.
I’m not going to deny that I have harbored all these feelings.
But I won the second marriage Powerball when I met my husband, Peter, a man of steadfast emotions and good habits and a brand of kindness that makes my heart hurt. I feel beyond fortunate to have found, at this relatively late stage in life, a partner who is so well-suited to me, who tolerates my quirks and shortcomings and takes such very good care of me. It is hard to wish anyone anything but the best when I have everything I could ever want.
This is my ex-husband’s third marriage, if you count his marriage to me, and they say the third time is the charm. I’m not sure if this applies to marriages as much as other things, but it sounds hopeful. Remarriage is also described as “the triumph of hope over experience,” which sounds a little snarky, even if it was said by Samuel Johnson in 1791. Clearly, the current century has no monopoly on the snark department.
But I am a big believer in hope and also in change and although I’ve not seen my ex-husband in quite some time, even looking at the photos, I can tell he has changed and I would imagine that he is hopeful. He does not look like the person I used to know, and I can’t imagine why I would wish this virtual stranger anything but the best in his marriage to the woman with sandy feet and a huge smile standing beside him.
My ex-husband’s smile is a bit more restrained. Perhaps he was thinking of Samuel Johnson at the time, or perhaps he didn’t like getting his pant cuffs wet in the surf. It is impossible for me to know. And I guess that’s the point.
None of us will ever know what goes on in the head of another person. I generally tend to believe what people tell me. Being a person who loves words, I stubbornly insist that what someone says must be the truth, actions to the contrary.
Late in life, I have come to the realization that people say all sorts of things that are not strictly true, and it doesn’t mean they are bad people or they are lying. It just means their actions don’t live up to their word, for one reason or another. Small deceptions grow larger until there is really no containing them. Unexpected developments intervene. Unruly emotions overturn the most fervent intentions. This is what happened to me, but it was a long time ago now.
It involved a virtual stranger who was recently spotted on a beach in the Caribbean with wet pant cuffs and, honestly, I wish him well.