How Many Husbands are Too Many? * CoveyClub

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Make Your Voice Heard

How Many Husbands are Too Many?

I've been married three times. Is it time to give up on love?

By Kelly Jackson

You know you’ve married too many times when your mother refers to your marriage with Mr. Two as “just an episode.” Granted, it lasted less than a year, but my blood, sweat, and tears went into that thing, and it felt more like a decade.

May I just say that I admire every man who has ever tried to take me on, because I am one strong West Texas broad raised by an equally brazen Texas woman with few maternal instincts. Mother’s first husband, with whom she was madly in love, up and died when he was 38 years old, so he really didn’t have time to develop into a flawed human being, as we all do. Mother’s memory of him, transferred to her three young daughters, was the description of a perfect man, provider, husband, lover, and friend to many. Daddy was inquisitive, a voracious reader, an artist, funny, handsome, tall, kind, and he loved cats.

Well, I couldn’t wait to find my perfect man when I grew up! (Is this ringing a bell with any of you seekers yet?)

Let me start with Mr. One for the sake of context. Steve was the young man to whom I generously offered my virginity as a senior in high school, which on today’s cherry-break calendar would show me as a late bloomer. Not so in 1970. However, on the epic romance meter, add the fact that Steve was also my returning soldier from Vietnam. Who wouldn’t want to marry that fantasy??

I should have worn a sandwich-board sign back then, suggesting that I was available to give over the entirety of who I was as a woman to any man, including but not limited to my aspirations, devotion, ambition, self-worth, professional goals, personality, family connections, integrity, and trust.  

Mr. One was adept at manipulating all of me right out of myself and into his service. Of course — he was perfect — so why wouldn’t I give myself completely? Um, let’s see…because he turned out to be a serial-cheating, suicidal control freak. It took me almost four years to finally realize that his instruction on how often and for how long I might speak to any member of my own family was more than just a red flag.

Also, when a manipulator is in full swing and you try to leave him, he may just call you at your friend Cici’s house, where you fled for refuge, to let you know that if you don’t come back to him he is going to shoot himself dead.  He loves you that much! It takes some damn strong divine intervention (women friends) to be reminded of your own worth and future potential for living a happy, fulfilling, self-sufficient life without him. 

My ‘episode’ with Mr. Two is completely understandable. I mean, what would you do if you ran into your adorable childhood sweetheart at a summer camp reunion where your puppy love first began? Go ahead, laugh if you did this.  

He was a cowboy with his own horse, for God’s sake. He lived a financially stable life and loved his mother. Andy was also funny, which has always been a big down-the-aisle magnet for me. It was so easy to dismiss his ultra-conservative take on the world, his complete sublimation to his boss, like lick-your-boots sycophancy. Oh, and did I mention that he was a good six inches shorter than me?  That was just awkward. I applaud all of you tall ladies who marry shrimps, really.

With every argument, I would always look at him and ask, “Why am I here?” Like the Universe was just going to give me that answer without making me work for it? I was way too eccentric to fit in the wifely mold that Andy’s mother had ingrained in his mind. I had a voice, and I had learned from Mr. One that I could use it. The camel’s back-breaking straw came when I intentionally ordered the shrimp instead of the steak while out for dinner with Andy and his boss (and the boss’s wife for good measure). You see, the boss had recommended the steak, so of course, Andy was going to order that without question, plus the same ‘sides’ that the boss had requested. The look that Mr. Two gave me when I placed my own order was one filled with daggers, hostility, and embarrassment at his errant wife’s gaffe in the presence of greatness (the boss was the president of a teensy, weensy little country bank).

This may sound small, but isn’t it often the smallest events that trigger the biggest life movements?

I packed up my dog, Rosemary, and off we went!  

My marriage to Mr. Three was as close to my perfect daddy fixation as I ever got. Except that he was really just looking for a secretary, travel coordinator, sister, accountant, friend, bartender, and event planner.  I was really good at all of those things and more than happy to oblige.

Did I also mention that my perfect Husba-Daddy was an alcoholic? Oops, slipped my mind. I tried hard to keep up with three-martini lunches, eight cocktails after a hard day’s work, and bottles and bottles of wine for dinners with friends. I always kept the Stolichnaya vodka supply stocked in the freezer for Mr. Three, because, well, that was one of the unspoken requisites in our marital vows.

With an alcohol problem, often times a sexual problem arises…wrong word there…I mean coincides. And, the 12 years that I spent with him included most of my sexually-active years as a mature woman. This one was really confusing: the romance factor was ever present, but it was like a misleading book jacket that obscures the poor content of the novel. I kept asking him not to kiss me like I was his mother.

In my mid-60s and childless by choice, I have given up on love. At this age on, a few new profile requirements show up: a nursing degree and/or home health care experience. Instead, I live with my favorite person on earth, my sis, Sal, and our cat.  

Wouldn’t I love to be a fly on the wall if all of my Misters got together for dinner to share their stories about me?  Hmm, I don’t really know. Gulp…would you??

  1. Jen

    For those of us that have had an “episode” (or two!), this article not only resonates but exemplifies the humor one can have about it all when looking back from 55+ year old eyes! Great read.

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