Remarriage Rules of Grammar: Past Imperfect, Future Conditional?

501 French Verbs and all those damn conjugations! Oh, those French tenses! Imperfect, simple future, future perfect… If only life were that easy!

I heard from a 40-year old colleague recently, about her upcoming remarriage. It got me thinking about pasts perfect and imperfect, present imperatives, and futures – of all sorts.

And then of course – ghosts of marriage past.

The woman I heard from is smart, talented, and lovely. Hubby-to-be is a happy man, because the fact is, this energetic single mom has had other beaus since a brief marriage in her 20s, and plenty of time to figure out who she is and what she wants.

To make matters better, she’s known an amicable relationship with her ex, as they’ve cooperatively co-parented for many years.

Past and present

What’s important here is that both the divorce and post-divorce relationship did not sour either party on love, or the notion of commitment. No past is perfect, but theirs – with regard to the present and future – has been perfectly reasonable.

I wonder if “reasonable” isn’t the perfect goal, the one to strive for in dealing with exes, particularly when children are involved.

Dark Shadows

dark shadows

Some of us labor under more grueling grammars – financial, emotional, and logistical. It’s like an implicit body of rules that we internalize, and it’s anything but agreeable. In fact, we’re left leery of any kind of conjugation, much less remarriage. We’ve been dealing with the Undead – dogged by dark shadows and morose markers of what went wrong.

And rattle my chains if those damnable exes don’t keep rising from the grave like Zombies! We’re nailed to their netherworld, even if we’d like to leap beyond the imperfect past.

A passionate present

So how can you envision a future when your present is tied to a painful past? Can you turn the imparfait into the passé composé – in other words – can you transform the still connective past to the done deal? Or if required, the passé simple – a tense which is expressly used for the dead?

With children, the past is always bound to the future. That is our privilege, our responsibility, and for some – a cross to bear. Personally, I’d content myself with a passionate present. In fact, I find it increasingly imperative – for all of us. We need a way to live in the NOW – whatever it may take – even if it includes straddling former lives, messy marriages, present emotions, and uncertain futures.

Future – perfect?

Remarriage stands a better chance at a simple future when imperfect past is laid to restFor those who’ve survived the worst of marriage, divorce, and the aftermath, there’s no such thing as a simple future. Our conjugal relations aim for a passable present, that can no doubt be “simply” wonderful.

Your feelings on remarriage?  

Past imperfectdoes it necessarily mean future conditional?

Or is that really the case anyway?

© D A Wolf



  1. says

    Wow! You hit on so much that we all need to focus on when we have been through this.

    I write a blog about marriage and how men can better love their wives. I hope you will check it out when you have a chance.

  2. says

    I’m much more about celebrating being single now, and very much about living in the present.
    One of the things I realized about ME is I never wanted to marry in the first place! And I’m wondering just how many people that applies to that have ended up divorced.
    While marriage can be wonderful for some (my parents have been happily married for 43 years), I think instead of looking at our marriage/divorce rate as some kind of failure for the institution, I think we should celebrate our diversity.
    Marriage is not for everyone. And we’re conditioned to believe that something’s wrong with US if we don’t want it. Marriage is a massive commitment. The best marriages have their rough patches.
    And particularly, for those of us who have kids, we have to consider how someone might fit in our family.
    Sometimes it works (my sister is re-married, and they’re like the Brady Brunch). But sometimes it doesn’t. And the heartbreak is harder for everyone involved to experience a 2nd (or sadder, 3rd, 4th time).
    I don’t think all divorcees who don’t want to get married again have some sort of character flaw to be worked out. I think some of us have been there, done that, and said, no thanks!

  3. says

    Another thoughtful column. Thanks. I am recently re-married and I think the word you used “reasonable” is “perfect” vs. hoping for “perfect” and being unhappy with “reasonable.” Hmm, interesting play on words. I might use that sometime. Did you know that the divorce rate for second marriages is higher than first ones? And, it’s worse for third. What does that tell us? I think it tells us that the over-used word “baggage” and “set in our ways” often comes to play, let alone exes rearing their ugly heads. My ex literally disappeared from my life AND my boys’ lives for over 2 years. She just re-surfaced and we’re all wondering if/when she’ll make contact and what impact it will have. So far, all we know is she’s living nearby again, but no one has heard from her in the 2 months or so she’s been back. Like a guillotine hanging over our heads. Thankfully, my boys have a loving step-mom so they’re mostly over the initial panic and questions. Second marriages are harder, period. I won’t write a polemic, but I could…lol.

  4. says

    i hope that remarriage is in my future. i would like a second chance to get it right, and having a partner for the next chapter is very appealing to me. it feels kind of far away now, though…even though i am dating a great guy–after kissing a lot of post-marriage frogs–neither of us is in a place to make that kind of commitment, or even really much of anything beyond “one day at a time.”

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