If it Doesn’t Work the First Time

I once had a co-worker who got married 3 times – to the same man. I’d met Leanne just as she was divorcing her husband for the 2nd time. “I should have known better,” she said with a sheepish grin.

When I ran into Leanne a couple of years later, I asked how she was doing. “I married him again,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“The same husband?”


“Will you get divorced a third time?” I asked.

She shook her head. “It’s too expensive. I’m not happy, but I can’t afford it.”

A few years after that, I thought of Leanne when I was involved in an on again/off again relationship with someone I couldn’t get along with on a regular basis.

What was our problem? Brad was like the little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. (When she was good, she was very, very good. When she was bad, she was horrid.)

Doesn't Work First Time 1

Brad made lots of excuses about his angry verbal outbursts. Not enough sleep. A high pressured job. A history of angry outbursts. (That should have been a clue.)

“I’m working on it,” Brad would say. I was foolish enough, or besotted enough, to buy it. (He was never physically abusive – which is no excuse.)

After a particularly bad breakup, Brad moved out of state. We both missed each other so much, we resumed our relationship from afar. It’s easy, in retrospect, to see that if it doesn’t work the first time, or the second time, it’s not going to work the third. But love (infatuation) is a type of madness. I’d learned that from being an English major.

Brad and I carried on a long distance relationship, seeing each other only twice a month. It was idyllic, as you can probably guess. Yes, I should have known better. My excuse? I was vulnerable. I was a divorced mother with two young sons. This boyfriend paid more attention to my kids than their own father did. If you want to win the heart of a mother, treat her children well.

Doesn't work first time 2

At the end of the year, Brad moved back and we were engaged to be married. That’s when, as psychologists say, his behavior regressed to the mean. Which is a fancy way of saying that he went back to being his old self (only worse).

7 days before the wedding, Brad went into a rage. He screamed at my son and made him cry.

I canceled the wedding.

I paid the caterer, the florist, the DJ, and the photographer for breaching the contracts. It was worth every penny.

My little son, the one who had cried, told me wisely, “The next time, Ma, follow the rule: 3 strikes and you’re out.”

Doesn't work first time 3

The next time, I decided, one strike and you’re out.

Many, many years after this debacle, a woman mailed me old photographs of myself, with an attached note that said:

I was cleaning out my house to get it ready for sale and I found these pictures of you in my ex-husband’s drawer. I thought you might want them. I know you were engaged to Brad a long time ago. I wish I had been as smart as you were and dumped him before marrying the man who became an abusive husband to me and an abusive father to our 2 children.

It’s all how you look at it. I ended up being the smart one.

Did you ever give a person one too many chances?

9 thoughts on “If it Doesn’t Work the First Time

  1. I have been betrayed by a “friend” and I knew it, but I kept on giving her chances. I know , in hindsight I feel like a fool, but the thing was that she was the wife of a colleague of my husband and we sort of had to hang out to keep the relationships good.
    When I heard that she had spread rumours about me…I cut if off. She knows what she had done and she has to live with it.

    The above taught me a lot about myself…teaching my clients to be assertive and me being a push-over at times. So, this other wife of a colleague of my husband had demonstrated two times that she was not very nice; kind of bitchy and domineering and disrespectful. I had been civil and avoided her a bit until one time we had to work together at a boot at an expo. She demonstrating all her bullying skills! She literally pushed me away from the stand with her body!!!
    This was strike 3…..
    I told her that she could not do this ever again and I described her behaviour and named it bullying….
    She said…and I still can laugh about it…”if you were bullied by me you would know it.”
    I said…Mmm, I have taught bullying and harassment as a course….so, I know what bullying is (my famous last words).
    I am pleased that I dropped the person…(we are civil when we have to meet)…I would not want to have experienced her definition of bullying…I think she would have made a claw of her hand and rip my heart out…or something….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. That second woman was scary. You did the right thing by getting rid of her. As for the first woman, the fact that you gave her many chances doesn’t reveal you to be a push-over. It just demonstrates that you are an optimist who is willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt. I’m glad you finally moved on from her!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank goodness, there are many great people around, too bad we also have some less than kind individuals around us.
        Thank you for your response….an optimist but also a bit too naive…I have grown up since then.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I go the other way, instead of giving people too many chances, I don’t give them a chance. It’s something I know I need to work on, a lack of trust – chatting to my psychologist about it actually.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think life works better if we approach it with optimism and give people a chance. Although we risk being hurt, if we don’t take any risks we never have a chance to really live and love. Trust is a good thing to work on. Have fun with it!


          1. I reckon that’s true. How we can’t get rid of everything we don’t like in ourselves, but can get into new patterns and it becomes easier.

            Liked by 1 person

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