Second Marriage (Same People)


Wedding pic

Today is my 35th wedding anniversary. Pam and I were married June 3rd 1978 in Panama City, Florida.

After 35 years, my marriage is blessedly the most important thing in my life. But it wasn’t always.

We all marry a fantasy, an idealized image of the perfect husband or wife. A few months or years later we discover that our spouse is not perfect and wonderful in every way. (And they discover the same thing about us.) In my case, I just thought I had my work cut out for me: I would have to change Pam. Subtly and indirectly, but I could shape her into that idealized image.

It all started quite typically, in that period when young people are chasing that idealized image everywhere. We bought a series of houses, worked till midnight and every weekend, fixing them up to sell so that we could buy a bigger one and start all over. I went to grad school and killed myself studying till the sun came up. The kids came along, and since Pam always had a career in the food world, we simply had no time for anything but work and home improvement and children and school projects and Halloween costumes and Christmas presents.

Looking back, I was always trying to build a better house; raise better, smarter, more disciplined children; get a higher educational degree; get a better job; have a better, more perfect wife. There isn’t anything unique about that “better” trajectory. It’s pretty much the well-worn flight path of the early years.

I am 56 now. Pam is 55. About fifteen years ago we fell out of love for a time, came close to divorce. I don’t know how close—Pam has a direr memory of those days—but it wasn’t good. Or maybe it was. Because these crisis points are almost always an either/or proposition. Either you get out or you go all in.

Somehow we went all in. Pam has her own story of course, but this is mine. One day I just decided—maybe in desperation—to love my actual wife. And when I did, she loved me in a way that tore open my heart. To be clear: I did not fall in love. I made a decision to love, and then, gradually, love overtook me and I could not help myself and my heart was filled brimful and broken.

Now my marriage is the most important thing in my life. Houses and children and careers simply matter less. But this marriage allures and dazzles me every day. If there is a closer image of divine bliss, I’d like to know about it. For here we are, two people who know the naked truth about one another, and still we persist in this crazy affection. This wild love is piqued exclusively by imperfection, mistakenness and the sure, slow recession of all the assets of youth. The older we get, the more honest we get, the more we lose the better it seems to get. I don’t know.

If the mark of God’s love is that it persists despite knowing us fully and completely, marriage—at least this second-chance version—is the closest thing to it on earth.





20 Responses to Second Marriage (Same People)
  1. Kim L
    June 3, 2013 | 9:05 am

    God Bless you both. You are an inspiration in so many ways. Happy Anniversary and love from Bucks County!

  2. Erika
    June 3, 2013 | 9:59 am

    Maybe this is even more special to me because I know you and Pam and love you both dearly. Maybe it’s remarkable because I know your beautiful daughters and the only version of your marriage I’ve seen is this one of “wild love” and “crazy affection.” But take all that familiarity away and the message is still so exquisitely compelling. It’s true, love never fails. When we choose love and open our hearts to it, love does extraordinary things to us and for us that we never dreamed possible. It’s no wonder the scriptures say, “God is love.”

    Happy anniversary to you and Pam! May the years watch you continue in your wild and crazy affair and lose more and get better. 🙂

    • david anderson
      June 3, 2013 | 2:30 pm

      Love that last sentence–that final benediction.

  3. Matt
    June 3, 2013 | 2:08 pm

    How amazingly timely! I am flying down to NC this weekend for my parents 50th wedding anniversary and as I bump up on 15 years myself I am ever more amazed by their longevity (I would say my wife would take offense to that statement but pretty sure she agrees!). It is so refreshing to hear someone (in this case 2 people)I respect admit things weren’t always perfect despite appearances. I for one am thrilled to hear you guys struggled – hallelujah!!!- it helps me breathe a sigh of relief and know where there is faith there is hope. Thank you for this and happy 35th to you and Pam!

  4. david anderson
    June 3, 2013 | 2:31 pm

    Thanks, Matt–because people have such unrealistic ideas and expectations of clergy (and clergy marriages and clergy families, etc.), Pam and I have always tried to be as honest as we can. Glad it helps one special person–you.

  5. Barbara Wood
    June 3, 2013 | 3:46 pm

    “Second chance” marriage, what a unique way of putting that delightful place that comes from falling in love again after decades of a worn out first love. Our second chance came with the empty nest after 3 decades of committed love. Well worth the effort!

  6. Dianne Brennan
    June 3, 2013 | 6:14 pm

    David, I appreciate your honesty and lowness. After two failed marriages myself it is a comfort to know that other Christians struggle too. God bless you and Pam. Many more years together!

  7. Gretchen Eckloff
    June 3, 2013 | 7:00 pm

    You are both such special people and I am blessed to know you. People imagine marriage as the Cinderella story and so often it is not. They are set up for disappointment. Your story brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart at the same time. Love to you both.

  8. Ree
    June 4, 2013 | 9:19 am

    Well, thank you for making me cry this morning.
    This was beautiful. Thank you.
    I’m really, really glad you chose the “all in” option.

  9. susan
    June 4, 2013 | 10:56 am

    When I pulled up “Finding Your Soul” this morning I saw the pic and said to myself, “Oh, I love these people” and I knew it would be a great post. Thanks for tearing down the facade, for risking honesty, for putting it out there to encourage others in this tumultuous and beautiful thing we call marriage. Love and Happy 35th to you both!

  10. Pattie
    June 4, 2013 | 11:11 am

    Wow, thanks for a touching and very honest post. I needed to hear that as these days I question a lot about my life and my 32 year marriage. I’m going to print this one out and save it to reread when I need to. It will also be a poignant message to tuck into an anniversary card for my newlywed son and daughter in law as their first anniversary approaches. Love is so blissful and blind in those early years, and I wish someone had told me it won’t always be that way, and the struggles will come. The good news is that you can get back there once again as you have so eloquently pointed out. Blessings to you and Pam on your anniversary.

  11. Linda
    June 4, 2013 | 11:27 am

    Beautiful post this morning. So many things in our journeys are all about the choices. Interesting you ‘chose’ to love ut like we choose forgiveness. None of it is easy but look at the outcomes. Well worth the hard choices. Bless you both.

  12. Susie Middleton
    June 4, 2013 | 1:16 pm

    So lovely, and inspiring too. Congratulations to you and Pam.

  13. Ginny Lovas
    June 5, 2013 | 1:09 am

    WOW – got Bless you both – Happy Anniversary to two special people! Ginny

    And, your BLOG – so very rrue!

  14. Kare Churdar O'Neal
    June 5, 2013 | 7:02 am

    David– God only knows how I landed on your website early this morning! ( I believe I last spoke with you @ 35 years ago) But thankful I did. Just read this and was so encouraged… To tears actually! Although I am not married, I have just passed this along to friends to read…To be encouraged in the tension and struggle of this Covenant.

    Thank you.

  15. Karen Churdar O'Neal
    June 5, 2013 | 7:14 am

    David— God only knows how I stumbled on this website early this morning… But so thankful I did. Thank you for this honesty and encouragement. Although I am not married, I was quite touched by the hope that this brings….in fact, I passed along to friends who find themselves in the tension and struggle of this ‘bigger-than-we-ever-realized’ Covenant. May they be blessed.

    Thanks, David — continued blessings for you and Pam!


  16. Mark L. Mosier
    June 8, 2013 | 3:56 pm

    I’m so glad that Pam posted this, reminding me to sign up for your column. REAL honesty promotes the PAUSE that I need often, both mentally & spiritually. Thank you for sharing. Maybe your years of listening on this topic would be an idea for your next book–it is really needed by many. (I know you probably would not be the type to take it on the road–lecture, home-building series, books, tapes, music, Pam trotted out on your arm–just an idea…) Thank you, Mark

  17. Brooke @ Food Woolf
    June 17, 2013 | 1:16 pm

    thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability. As someone who has walked through such all in or all out situation with my husband, I am so grateful to see someone else speak about the process of finding love (again) with the person you married. In my case, my husband and I found a much deeper and more profound love for each other that enriches our lives every day. I’m so glad we found each other (again and again) and didn’t walk away from the greatest love of my life.

    Thank you for all that you do and say. You make a difference in my life!

    • David
      June 17, 2013 | 7:09 pm

      Thanks, Brooke–the line “I’m so glad . . . we didn’t walk away from the greatest love of my life” is so right. This is the season when so many decide to walk away. Some, it’s true, have no choice. But most–most by far–are just walking away at the moment of transformation.

  18. jean christophe Gras
    March 19, 2014 | 4:06 am

    Dear you both, this is years we haven’t seen each other and I can’t believe this is your 35th anniversary. You are telling a beautiful story and this is not a surprise to me.I hope i will have the privilege to share more time with you in the future. God bless you all.
    Jean Christophe

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