How can I get married at 40?

Second marriage: How experience can make a marriage happier - and what it feels like to have been married multiple times

“A woman has to marry for love,” said Zsa Zsa Gabor, “and marry on until she has found her.” The Hollywood star adhered to this creed pretty closely. Gabor married nine times, and her last marriage to Frédéric von Anhalt lasted longer than her eight previous marriages. Even if the morbid-romantic words “until death do you part” often echo from the wedding ceremony, for many they no longer apply. Since the sexual revolution of the 1970s swept away the ideal of marriage as the dominant way of life for adults, divorce rates have skyrocketed.

Between 2000 and 2010 almost every second marriage in Germany was divorced, now many marry later and the divorce rate has fallen again, only every third marriage ends in divorce. Every sixth divorced person dares the - sometimes temporary - bond for life one more time. Sometimes it just takes several attempts before everything goes right. “On the whole, I love to be married,” Gabor finally judged towards the end of her life.

I don't even know if I ever thought about whether he was the man for life

Second marriage: The first marriage is not necessarily the best

It was also the case with Clara that the last and not the first marriage is the best. “At first I was in love and imagined having children with my first husband, but I don't even know if I ever thought about whether he was the man for life,” she says. She had only known Paul for six months and was in the absolute infatuation phase when she became pregnant and the couple decided to marry out of the situation. After their daughter was born, they went to the North Sea with their best friend and his best friend and they said yes. The marriage was happy in the first few years, they had another son.

I had the feeling that we were living after my parents' relationship, which was the absolute deterrent scenario for me

“We were happy as a family. We were good with the kids and Paul was and is a great dad. But after about ten years I realized that we were no longer doing well as partners, ”says Clara. “I had the feeling that we were living out my parents' relationship, which was the absolute deterrent scenario for me. I have never seen them interact with one another with love. When I noticed that we were developing towards this point, I wanted to split up. "

But then Paul got sick. When he recovered after a few years, Clara moved to a separate apartment in the same house. The children went in and out of both apartments, on Sunday evenings they ate together as a family and also had other common rituals. "We always tried to be good parents, although it was clear that we were no longer a couple." It took more years before she, with the help of therapy, decided that the marriage was no longer possible. She only wanted to keep up the common rituals and live in one house until the children were of legal age.

For her it is the second marriage, for him the third

But then Clara fell in love with Simon. “Simon was my colleague and my best friend. I was always able to talk to him, talked to him about my breakup and my therapy, and I also got on well with his wife. We went to dinner, went to the cinema. At some point we fell in love. "

At some point we fell in love

Clara's original plan to live in the same house with Paul until the children grew up didn't work out anymore. She wanted to be with Simon. And even if Paul and Clara had long been separated, the new love was initially painful for him. It also meant a separation for Simon, who was married for the second time. Simon had married for the first time in his mid-twenties. His first marriage didn't last long, they quickly diverged. He was married to his second wife for sixteen years. “I always had the impression that Simon and his wife had a good relationship, but you can't look into their lives and a separation always takes two,” says Clara.

When they fall in love, she is 46 years old and a mother of two. At first they live in separate apartments in the same neighborhood, giving the relationship time to develop. After two years they move in together and later buy a house. At some point, when they are together on the sofa in the evening, he says he thinks it would be nice to get married. A few months later, at the registry office in the Bremen artists' village Worpswede, they just said yes in a very intimate way with the children and a friend. It's the second marriage for her, the third for him, and he never wants to get divorced again. Bremen is right three times, they say. They have now been together for fourteen years and Simon is still Clara’s great love. He has become a second father to their children.

What she learned for the second marriage

Both learned from their first marriage to talk openly about themselves and also about their exes. Simon meets his ex-wife regularly for dinner, and Clara and Paul are also friends beyond the children.

In my first marriage, I felt like we were trying to educate each other instead of telling each other what we needed

“In my first marriage, I felt like we were trying to educate each other instead of telling each other what we needed. The expectations of each other were simply not right. " This time she wanted to do better right from the start. The great lesson for her was to also send I-messages and to communicate what you want instead of the implicit expectations. To work on yourself instead of bending the other. It took her a long time to do that, she says.

“And again and again we sit down as a couple and ask ourselves: Are we all right? And I just have to say: yes, we are fine. We have always enjoyed each other very much and we are very loving one another ”.

Just as Clara says this, he comes through the door to pick her up for the first motorcycle trip of the year together, which has become a spring ritual for her.

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