9 Ways to Be Married: Explained

It's one thing to say "I Do"—and another to keep on doing. At a time when statistics show many forces working against it, how does marriage continue to thrive? MORE talks to a variety of women in committed, if sometimes unconventional unions about how they choose to tie their knot

by Doren Allen
Photograph: Jens Bonnke

#6 Serial Marriage
Cindy Nye, 51, and Ben Nye, 42
Plano, Texas
The first time Cindy wed, she was 19 and wanted to move out of her parents’ house. A year and a half later, she discovered that her husband was unfaithful and left him; after the divorce, she gave birth to a daughter by a boyfriend. At 22, seeking security, she married a man 15 years her senior and had two more daughters.

“As the children got older and my interests broadened, my husband and I grew apart,” she says. They divorced after 16 years. When she wed again at 45, marrying a man nine years her junior, her goal was a healthy partnership. Cindy, now an executive assistant at a bank, and Ben, a systems engineer who had never married before, lived together for two years before making it legal. “I’ve never been happier,” she says of their eight-year marriage.

According to the latest available census figures, 12 percent of American adults have married twice, and 3 percent have married three or more times. Cindy looks back:

What she knows now When I married at 19, I was old enough to know what I didn’t want but too young to know what I did want. When I remarried at 22, I was looking for a father figure for my child—and maybe for me. I married Ben with no ulterior motives, just the desire for happiness.

Regrets? No. When I was young, I thought you married forever. But I grew up, and the first two men I married didn’t.

What’s different this time The atmosphere is more relaxed. We enjoy each other’s company, and Ben is there for me; he tells me he loves me more often in a day than I heard in a year in my second marriage. We have an equal relationship.

Why marry for a third time? We wanted to make a public commitment. His family worried about me because I’m -older. We wanted to let them know we love each other—and that I’m here for the long run.

#7 Companion Marriage
Lynn Johnson, 52, and Dave Johnson, 54 (Not their real names, and some details have been changed.)
Suburban New Jersey
“I’m always telling my girlfriends that I live with my brother!” says Lynn, a real estate agent whose husband, Dave, is a consultant for government agencies. Their 26-year marriage is rewarding, she says, but she can’t remember the last time they had sex. Four hotnewlywed years were followed by a decade of trying to get pregnant. “Sex becamelike a job,” Lynn recalls. “That’s how our love life got off track.” The couple made peace with being childless and settled into a close, comfortable routine—-confiding in each other, dining out together but pursuing separate activities. “I want to try new things—hang gliding or traveling to Italy,” Lynn says. “He likes cigar bars and golf with his buddies.” Sexual encounters became increasingly rare, especially after Lynn had a hysterectomy, and that was fine with her. “I guess it doesn’t bother him either,” she says. “It’s a weird relationship, but it works.” She tells why:

Mutual respect We’ve never stopped each other from doing what makes us happy. I go out with my girlfriends; he goes out with the guys. He’s my best friend, my go-to person for talking through issues. He cheers me up when I’m down.

If I found out he was cheating . . .
I’d probably say, “If someone wants to do it [with him], bless them.” But he’s never given me reason to think that. He comes home from work exhausted, and for years he’s been on blood pressure medication that lowers his libido.

When I said “I do” . . .I thought we’d have a couple of kids. Everyone wants the perfect life, but very few people get it; those who do are either very fortunate or lying. I just wanted someone in my life who wanted to be there every day—and that’s what I have.

First published in the March 2013 issue

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