I Am Engaged to My Fourth Wife

What will it mean to re-enter the institution of marriage?

Anthony Aycock


Image freely available from Wikimedia Commons

Last night, I dreamt I went to a wedding again. Mine. It seemed to me I stood by the altar, beneath an arch, my feet on petals, and afterward I could not move, for the reception was barred, and plated. There was a ball and chain upon my ankle.

Well, of course it wasn’t a ball and chain. Wives aren’t really like that. I should know: I’ve had three of them. And the dream I just described isn’t a dream. It’ll soon be a memory.

On October 31 — yes, Halloween — I am slamming the book on another bachelorhood. Shedding my singleness. Undoing my unattachment. Once more unto the beach (best place for a honeymoon), then home to the next in a long line of love nests.

I am marrying once more, and I couldn’t be happier. For real.

According to the Washington Post, over 9 million Americans have been married three times or more. I am one of them. Three up, three down — end of an inning, end of an institution. I hit the trifecta of termination, gold medalled in misery, performed the hat trick of hearings. I am 47 years old, and at this rate, I’ll catch Elizabeth Taylor in trips to the altar by the time I’m 60.

It’s been a wild ride. My first wife left me in 1997 for a soulful artiste who was nevertheless missing something — a leg. Part of a leg, actually. Below one knee was prosthetic.

My second wife skedaddled in 2003 for an old boyfriend who was like Larry the Cable Guy, minus the money and talent. She took her daughter, whom I had raised since she was 8 months old, and whom I never saw again. Now, if she remembers me, it’ll be the way we remember Slim Goodbody: Wait, was that a thing?

My third wife decamped in 2018. That marriage was the longest: 12 years. Her reasons were nebulous, though she complained a lot that I never folded the towels correctly. (Ha! I knew that would work!)

In 2019, someone posted on Quora, “What is the brutal truth about fourth marriages?” People chimed in with the usual anecdotes, exhortations, and apocryphal stats (“7/8ths of 4th time marriages End in Divorce,” which is weirdly specific. And why use 18th century rules of capitalization?).