For a long time after we were married, Michael had a standard joke that went like this. We would be with other people, and I might – in passing – mention my ex-husband. Michael would feign shock. “What?!? You’ve been married before??”
It always got laughs from people who hadn’t heard it yet. But it got old for me pretty quick, and I never found the perfect comeback.
The joke was that of course he knew I’d been married before. So it was kind of a slapstick humor, which isn’t his style. So why did he do it, and why did it bug me so much?
I still don’t know why he did it (he’s not here right now for me to ask, so he can blog about that on his own time). I’m guessing there was some level of discomfort in marrying an older woman, made even more so by the fact that I had once promised myself to someone else. Maybe he didn’t want to be reminded of that.
It was a brief marriage, made when I was barely 21 and finished four years later. But those were formative years, and working through the emotional wreckage took a while. Now, that seems like another life. (And another blog post; stay tuned.)
So why did his joke bother me? Maybe because it seemed repetitious and silly. But also, it felt as though it erased part of my life and therefore part of me. My first protests about the joke were mild, but they got more vigorous when he didn’t stop.
And then he heard me, and the joke stopped. Now, heading into our 19th year of marriage, I’m the one who’s sometimes amazed that I’ve been married before.