Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Often, the answer illuminates the divorced person's character and "issues," especially to a potential new love. As a journalist I'm used to tough questions, but that one is particularly awkward for me because of how I have to answer: They're quick to assume what they consider the obvious, that I must be pretty crappy marriage material because I "failed" at two of them.
Perhaps I fall for the "wrong" kind of men. Or, more likely, something must be very "wrong" with me. Maybe all of the above. Serial marriages aren't that uncommon, especially among celebs -- Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Larry King come to mind.
But, we know that the rich and famous are not like us -- we expect all sorts of marital drama from them, and are more surprised by a marriage like the late Patrick Swayze's, who was together with wife Lisa Niemi for 34 years before he passed away.
Still, even they're not exempt from raised eyebrows. I'm not perfect," was how he explained things. Poor Judith, however; her admission that Rudy was her third husband set the tabloids on fire. That's why she waited until after he announced his intention to run for president to mention it.
She feared judgment; she "failed" two marriages, after all -- what's wrong with her? Which is why I find answering "So, why did you get divorced? People tend to blame divorces on the women, just as surely as they notice a messy or dirty home and fault the wife for her shoddy housekeeping. Aren't wives the ones who say "I want a divorce" two-thirds as many times as men? Don't women have unrealistic expectations about marriage? Aren't unhappy wives who want a divorce selfish for putting their needs before their children's?
And aren't all ex-wives psychos, gold-diggers, princesses and all-around b-words? All people who have been married and divorced a few times are suspect, but women perhaps a little more so -- just like women who sleep around are considered sluts or cougars while men who do are called, well, lucky. I feel a lot like Rudy when it comes to explaining my first marriage. I wed just a few months shy of my 21st birthday -- what did I know? My friends cast it off as a "starter marriage.
When I married again several years later, I thought I was a much more mature and self-aware woman. Evidently not, although somewhere between 60 percent and 70 percent of second marriages end so the odds were stacked against me anyway. But that marriage lasted 14 years and gave me two wonderful children. Although I didn't want to be a cliche -- a something divorced mom -- stuff happened and we couldn't work it out.
It's easy to point the finger at the ex -- once. But if you've been married and divorced several times, people are on to that game. Just like it takes two people to make a good marriage, it takes two to make a troubled one. So I've spent a lot of time since my second divorce looking at what I've brought to the marital table and why, and what I want to change. Now I truly am a more mature and self-aware woman.
Which, obviously, makes me poised to be The Perfect Wife. Too bad I'm not going for marriage No.