Marrying again – Will the third time be the charm?

October 3rd, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 16 comments

Hello,

I am a truck driver and just started watching you and your wife on TCT. First, thank you for your ministry.

I have been married twice and was cheated on both times. I am thinking of getting married after being with my girlfriend for 5 years. Would I be wrong in God’s eyes to get married again?

Michael R.

Dear Michael,

We often drive fair distances to and from speaking appearances because we much prefer the road to flying.  We’ve had so many opportunities to admire the professionalism of most truck drivers.  Where possible we favor truck routes because we feel professional drivers are, on average, more predictable.

That said, we think you might just be behaving a bit predictably here too. 

There is no Biblical limit to the number of marriages one can contract as long as the previous marriages ended properly. However, you didn’t really think we would leave it there, did you? After all, if that’s all you wanted to ask us, you wouldn’t have included information on how your previous marriages ended and about how long you’ve been dating.

We are so glad you found us on TCT, but you may not have found out yet that we respect our audience too much to deliver anything short of the full truth to those who write in to our Ask the Rabbi column. Here goes.

We are big believers in marriage. But a marriage, just like an eighteen-wheeler, needs to be built correctly.  Furthermore, the participants in the marriage need good training prior to the mission as well as proper guidance during it just as drivers need proper training before climbing into the cab and, once in, they need to know how to drive professionally and competently.  Without these necessities, a driver won’t have a long or successful career and neither will a marriage long survive.

We don’t really know you, but we do know that something went very wrong with your first two marriages. That it was the same thing that terminated both marriages tells us a lot, right?  If a driver wrecks the gearboxes on two different trucks on two different runs, it’s possible that both trucks were faulty but more likely this driver has terrible gear changing technique.  We do feel for you and we admire you for asking, so we don’t want to sound harsh, but if both your wives cheated on you, we do know that you either chose wives very badly or managed the marriages very poorly.  Most likely, there was a combination of both those factors.

Had you turned to us five years ago at the start of your relationship with your girlfriend, we’d have encouraged you to do whatever was necessary to understand your earlier missteps before getting involved with another woman. We also would have discouraged you from a five-year relationship.

If you and your girlfriend have a physical relationship, you have already sent the message that you don’t see sex as exclusive to marriage.  (Did the relationships with your first two wives start in a similar way? If so, it helps explain the cheating.  ) Granted, sex while not being married is not at all the same as breaking marriage vows by adultery, but you would be starting off acknowledging that God’s approval isn’t the foundational idea on which you base your marriage. 

Have you asked your girlfriend why she believes that if you married her, it would be different from your earlier two marriages?  We think this could be a worthwhile starting conversation.  Then we’d recommend the two of you sitting down with a reputable, faith-based counselor who specializes in building and maintaining marriage.  This won’t be a one-time meeting. Our guess is that you both have many adjustments to make in order to give yourselves the best chance for success.  We want to draw your attention, as well, to the resources we offer in our Lasting Love Set.  Studying them together has brought many couples closer. 

It sounds like you have been badly hurt and betrayed in the past. Your girlfriend’s heart, too, has probably felt pain. We urge the two of you to explore new ideas and emerge not with the hope that things will be different this time around, but with very solid reasons to believe that it will be so.

Remember, neither trucking nor marriage are solo occupations. 

Wishing you well,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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16 comments

Kim Wojcinski says:

You wrote the following, “Have you asked your girlfriend why she believes that if you married her, it would be different from your earlier two marriages?”

Isn’t that projection? Taking what another person did and then confronting an innocent party; in effect lodging an accusation, holding them suspect that they may commit the same offense?

May I ask YOU, have YOU ever been on the receiving end of that type of suggestion? I have, and it’s not at all pretty….not at all. In fact, it caused a split in what could have otherwise been a great relationship; that is, I was NOT going to be held accountable for the actions of another, how on earth do you think that is fair-and-proper?

You might want to rethink that line of advice, frankly, on this matter, I do not think you know what you are talking about.

Hope this helps.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Kim-
We clearly touched a nerve in your life with our answer. Sorry if it hurt. We didn’t mean it as you interpreted it. When two people marry, it goes without saying that they each benefit from the goodness of the other and they can each suffer from bad decisions of the other. I think our question is not only appropriate but important. In the context of the entire response, it should be clear that the question is not an attack on the new girlfriend but only asking her if she has thought about the role played by her BF (the asker of the question) in the failure of the first two marriages.

Hope this helps.
RDL

Marie says:

One of my new favorite responses.
Creative, inspiring and much needed in today’s increasingly common situation. Thank you.

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you, Marie. We have seen third marriages work, but it is because the person him or herself changed not as an automatic thing because they married a different person.

Jim B says:

You weren’t given much information from which craft a response. I think you did very well. I do wonder though, why do people have long-term relationships (5 years in this case) in which they act like they are married but aren’t? If you don’t know within 3-4 months, move on. Try courtship. People who have sexual relationships with anyone they are not married to must not read much. Except for those few published “studies” which have an agenda, most show that sex outside of marriage worsens your odds of having a successful marriage. It’s not God trying to stamp out all the fun in life. It’s humans being stupid. Marriage is challenging enough without sabotaging it before you start. Demonstrate to your partner that you can be trusted in a marriage by not having sex with someone other than your spouse. It’s not complicated.

Susan Lapin says:

Jim, you are making a good point but what we really don’t understand is when someone has an adulterous affair while married and then the new spouse, with whom they had the affair, assumes that this time they will be faithful. It can happen, but we wouldn’t suggest counting on it.

Janice says:

Just as a point of encouragement, my sister has now been married for over 30 years to her husband – her third marriage. Sometimes we make very bad choices when we marry too young and can learn from our mistakes. I agree that your advice to start with a faith-based counselor is a great way to start a new marriage. I wish Michael and his girlfriend all the best in the future.

James says:

One is sorry for those who for reasons of betrayal or even attrition, who are forced to remarry. But I have been one of the lucky ones. Old acquaintances encounter me and say things like: ‘WHAT? You’ve been married for 40 years to the SAME woman?’ Yes, this year 42 years, to be exact. But the bottom line is that it takes two to tango. And a man and his wife deserve each other. So you gave great advice: the mistakes tend to originate from both sides of the partnership.

But the groundwork for a lasting partnership is essential. You marry someone not overnight, but after a period of consideration; and one from a similar socioeconomic background, with the same religious or core values, even if these cross ethnic or international boundaries. I have my faults and she has some, too. But my wife is a jewel of a lady, ‘above the price of rubies’ and has been loyal to me through thick and thin, throughout rampant assaults of misfortune. We date from that era when they still had GOD in the schools and the communities. And we both have faith in God. ‘Nuff said.

Susan Lapin says:

James, I was fortunate to be at both sets of my grandparents’ 50th anniversary celebrations, so it isn’t until about 40 that I begin to think of a marriage as long-lasting. Congratulations.

Karen S Jones says:

James comment above about “same socioeconomic background” reminds me of our premarital counseling , when the pastor said that my husbands impoverished background would be a problem for us because of my upper middle class upbringing . My parents had grown up poor and told us about it, ..I knew how to “make do” . LOL so for 22 years of marriage our constant struggle is me wanting to “make do” , and for him , only the very newest , expensive and best will do !! I did not see that coming !! We laugh about it now and struggle always to Compromise..

Susan Lapin says:

Karen, it is amazing how different our perspectives can be and how much we can grow learning to respect our spouse’s view.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Congratulations on not being a ‘high maintenance wife’, Karen,
People don’t always realized in advance just how much marriage brings growth, not only to each spouse but also to their union.
Cordially
RDL

Kristy says:

Hi Rabbi and Susan! First off, I want to say how much my family has learned from you and appreciate all you do! I think your response was spot on! I think your advice always is. You really try and get to the root of the question and answer thoughtfully. How you can respond with such thorough answers is amazing! My comment is to a previous comment by a reader about marrying too young. I constantly hear people say not to marry young. I feel it is worse for these young adults to “just date”. I think being taught commitment (we love when Rabbi talked about Love and commitment. So sometimes when my husband and I get frustrated with each other we’ll say “I’m Committed to you!”) is what people need to learn! Love is a feeling…commitment is suppose to be for life! I married young….17 yrs old and we will celebrate our 25th anniversary in January! I get told that I’m the rarity, but I believe it is lack of commitment being taught now. Thank you again, and to the reader that I am commenting on, please don’t be offended that I used your comment about “marrying young” as a spring board to my comment. I only am responding to that phrase….not you! Blessings!

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you for sharing your story, Kristy. There are excellent points on both sides of this matter. I think I once did a Musing about it – need to look when I have a chance.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Kristy–
You are so right about commitment. My newest podcast http://rabbidaniellapin.libsyn.com/ is entitled America’s Real War and is about the culturally induced mistake of thinking that our feelings govern everything. We marry because we feel in love. Obviously, using that formula, it follows that when one stops feeling in love, one should terminate the marriage.
The kind of thinking that you emphasize and which underpins your own marriage is rare in America’s lamentable popular culture. I have been asking people with whom I come into casual contact, “In which book of the Bible do we find the verse, ‘And thou shalt follow they heart'”? I am astounded at how many tell me that they know it’s in the Bible but they just can’t remember exactly which book. Of course the Bible tells us exactly the opposite (Numbers 15:39)
Of course marrying young can be wonderful, and all things being equal, is preferable for many people. Continued blessings for you and your family
Cordially
RDL

Hope Richards says:

Well as I am getting older in life and the faith I see why God said it is not good for man/woman to be alone. We are indeed social and relational creatures, insects, animals and humans. I have read and heard of reports written by psychologists/psychiatrists to let us know how loneliness contributes to dementia among things. The truck driver that experienced his two wives cheating on him could have indeed picked the wrong women but you never mentioned the fact that he is gone days or even months at a time. Many people cannot deal with loneliness. I am still single, never been married by choice and married people do not want me around. My family and a few friends are on the east coast. I am now wondering why God has chose this path for me because I have been wanted to be married now for a good while. If I meet men on a website who say they are Christin they drink and seemingly looking for women to fund some business if they think you have $10.00 saved. I have cut down significantly on calling my relatives overseas because all they want from me is monetary gift. Some have birthdays twice for the year because I live in America. They work, have homes, eat very well but has never asked me what month my birthday falls on because they really do not care. Since I have relocated I have spent many holidays alone. I also go to a mega church and you would think that it would be easy to find friends, many and I really do not have things in common. I have met many women who were victims of domestic violence and when I said I have never been, Rabbi Lapin it seems like I am hated. No kidding. I am very ambitious, I like to travel but keep it restraint because I am single. I often wonder why so many people in many countries are so lonely when we have 7 billion people in this world. The truck driver has find out if the third woman he is planning to married can deal with loneliness when he is gone for so long. As we know that some people feel lonely in a crowded room, I do not have that problem. I can be at a stadium working (second job) and someone always approach me and start a conversation. Hopster.

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