16167782 - law theme, mallet of judge, wooden gavelI can’t help but laugh. I was taking a work break and reading a novel. The couple in the novel were about to get married for convenience in a courthouse. The mom was complaining to the daughter about the courthouse and how unromantic that was when I suddenly realized that I had been married in a courthouse to X2.

Of course, I did. What a fitting way to start a marriage of ten years, and now years of going to court to dissolve the marriage. We are entering into our fourth year of legal battle, in which resolution may or may not happen since my X2 is pro per and loves to play lawyer. I secretly believe he never wants to resolve it since he is hanging on so tightly. Funny, since he initiated the divorce.

What an omen for our marriage—a cold, emotionless courthouse. We had sneaked away from my kids and his life to elope. No one knew about it except for my then best friend. (Turns out that she was my financial planner and cheated me out of a lot of money, but that is a different story.)

Our relationship from the beginning was enveloped in secrets and courthouses. I must not have felt too good about our reunion because before we married, I typed up the terms and conditions of our relationship. What would happen if certain things occurred in our relationship, when we would seek to counsel, and what rules we would both promised to live by in finances, sex, and in regards to raising my children.

We had both signed it, and he had written up his own terms, but that was more of a promise and oh the words he wrote! He was going to treat me like a queen, and he was going to strive to honor me for my whole life. That would have been so nice had he even somewhat stuck to those promises! Can you imagine? If he did, I doubt we would be visiting the courthouse so regularly.

Since visiting that courthouse, I have developed PTSR—post-traumatic stress reaction (some people call it PTSD, but it is not a disorder it’s a normal response to extreme situations). Too many times I had to hurry into the brick building looking around to make sure that X2 wasn’t going to attack me. The courthouse was the one place I couldn’t take my taser, and it was the one place that X2 knew I was going to be.  Going to that place at an appointed time to confront my X2 always made me feel like a sitting duck.

Of course, he liked to use that fact. I am not paranoid for no reason. If no one were around after the session with the judge, he would jump out of nowhere behind me and try to engage in conversation.

Once on the way to court, I was driving the thirty minutes after dropping the kids off at school when my phone buzzed with a text. It was him. He texted to tell me it was nice to be able to be driving behind me. Yes, creepy about describes that.

The courthouse didn’t just represent the stress of seeing him, but it represents the stress of dealing with a cold, austere man dressed in a black dress who holds the power to change your life and he uses it.

I would wait for hours with stomach clenching and the X2 sneering and then finally we would be summoned to stand in front of the judge. There would always be something important being discussed like if I would get to see my children or how much money my X2 would be stealing from me this time, and the man would glance over the paperwork, maybe glimpse my pale face and then turn and glimpse X2 who like to plaster himself with a fake smile. Then the judge and my lawyer would talk with X2 butting in with some really stupid comments.

By this point, I would be fading and not knowing what was going on. The judge would say something; then the lawyer would thank him and then on the way out I would ask my lawyer, “What in the hell happened?”

If doing that situation every two months for years wouldn’t give a person nightmares I don’t know what will. At night in my sleep I often have a white faceless men sneering down at me with authority.

That all started because I got married in a courthouse! Ugh. Now that I realize this it makes me really glad for my third marriage. Yes, I did it again and not long after the dissolution of the second, and yes, I am one of those types. Yes, I can live without a man. I did it for a month to prove it. I didn’t like it. I like men, so I choose to have a man in my life.

Anyways, enough of me defending myself. For our wedding with husband number three, I had some of my children there. Not all of them. I have a lot, and most of them didn’t want to be there, so I made it simple and only asked those that were happy with me at that moment to be there.  We didn’t hide our wedding. But more importantly, we got married in a desert park. As we stood looking at each other, me sick to my stomach and shaking, and him with a huge beaming smile and whispering encouragement, we exchanged our vows as butterflies flew up and surrounding us.

Butterflies are a symbol of loved ones from the other side. My hubby took it that his loved ones and mine on the other side were with us. I took it as a God wink. I take it as a God wink every time I see one. Since our wedding, I often see them. There have been months in a row where I saw a few every day, which is saying something since I am not an outdoor person.

One of those times my hubby and I were disagreeing. I was sitting on a chair in the garage, and the metal gate was open, and I saw a white butterfly soaring in happiness just beyond my husband.

“Butterfly,” I said.

My husband stopped his arguing in his tracks and swooped me in his firm and tender arms, and we kissed. That was all we needed to resolve our differences. A remembrance of the symbol of our love.  As I think about it, the idea of making a hard contract between us, I never even thought of doing. I  must trust the guy.  I never had a talk with him on how to be with my children. (He’s the best dad.) I didn’t even fight him when he asked me to take on his last name.

With X2 I never actually did make the change. I wanted to preserve my business name and my identity. With hubby3 when he asked, I asked him, “Why?”

“Because you love me and I would like you to.”

How could I say no to that?

What’s the moral of this story? Don’t get married in a courthouse to a man you feel compelled to make a contract with before you get married, and you have a sick feeling every time you think about taking on his name.  Marry a man that gives you butterflies.