Living Happily Ever After


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Spontaneous “Date”

“I like Vegas for its spontaneity.” (Tony Curtis)

Due to the new developments at our Utah home, I went alone to my Las Vegas business trip. As part of the trip, my company was having an event in conjunction with “The Donny and Marie Show” at the Flamingo hotel. I was there in an official capacity, coordinating everything (including a photo of my corporate group with a photo company), working with Donny and making sure the meet and greet between Donny Osmond and the distributors of my company went smoothly. Afterward, everyone got to see their show. (Which, by the way, is fabulous. I recommend everyone see it! And Donny didn’t even ask me to say that.)

While waiting for the show, I was seated at the table of my assigned ticket. My co-worker on the project had been seated beside me but he left for a few minutes and another man sat down across from me. He introduced himself, I introduced myself and we chatted for a moment before a cocktail waitress appeared and asked if we wanted drinks. I ordered a bottle of water and reached for my wallet when my new friend said, “It’s ok, it’s on me.” I thanked him but said I would get my water. He insisted, “No, it’s on me, I’ve got it” and he paid for my drink and his. (Very nice, I guess, just very unexpected. I’m sure the man was just being friendly and nice but I confess, I did look down to make sure I had my wedding ring on and that it looked like a wedding ring; I also mentioned my husband a few times during the conversation.)

While waiting for the show to begin and now the drinks to arrive, a photographer approached and asked if he could take our picture. I didn’t know what to say. I’m a corporate employee of my company, my new friend was a distributor and I didn’t want to offend anyone. I’m also married and was wearing a wedding ring, but I didn’t want to offend a corporate distributor by making a big deal about that—so I didn’t answer. My new friend took over the conversation and said, “Sure.” (Maybe he didn’t want to offend anyone, either.)

The photographer directed him to move around and sit by me for the photo, which he did. Then he kept directing him to sit closer to me, to put his arm around me, for me to lean in to him, for me to put my hand on his chest, the photographer snapping photos with each new adjustment and before I knew it, I felt like we had a full-on engagement portrait session going!


Oh well, I reasoned, I just won’t purchase the pictures after the show. I wasn’t going to make a big deal about a very crazy, unexpected experience and a photographer’s mistaken impression. At the last minute before the show started, I was called away to take care of some work business and I returned just before the show started–long enough for my co-worker to hand me the bottle of water my new friend had purchased and to direct me to a seat on the front row of the show! What an unexpected surprise! (My thanks to Donny’s manager and my co-worker for working that out for me as a special treat.) I did as I was directed and didn’t even have the chance to thank my friend for the water.

After the show (which, by the way, in addition to being wonderful was so amazing that, according to Donny’s manager, I had a goofy grin on my face through the whole thing–he joked that these day, he watches the people, like me, rather than the actual show! haha), I walked out and paid the photo company who had taken the group photos for my company as an employee of the photographer came up, handed me a bag and said, “Here are your pictures with our compliments.”

I was a little surprised; I’d thought the photographer was simply going to provide me with a disk of the group photos he took but I thought, “Oh, that was nice of him to go the extra mile and print a group photo so I’d have a preview of what’s on the disk” and continued on my way. While riding in a cab back to my hotel I reached into the sack and pulled out the photos to take a look. Except that as I reached my hand into the sack for the flimsy photo I was expecting, instead, my hand grasped a leather portfolio folder!

I thought, “Wow, they REALLY went the extra mile for these group photos,” opened the binder and saw, instead of the group photo I was expecting, a lovely assortment of romantic poses and pictures with, apparently, my new boyfriend! Bound nicely in a leather portfolio! Official documentation of what I’d accidentally and unknowingly been up to in Las Vegas!

I busted up laughing at the crazy and unexpected gift, wondering how I end up in these crazy types of experiences, just as my phone rang. I answered it. Wouldn’t you know, it was my husband! Calling to see how things were going at the show and in Las Vegas! All I could answer was that things were going a little too well! LOL.

“…Vegas…It was quite an experience.” (Davy Jones)


Happy Valentine’s Day

“There is no feeling more comforting and consoling than knowing you are right next to the one you love.” (Anonymous)

If you’re counting (like apparently I am) last month was my third Valentine’s Day with my husband as well as the month of our first wedding anniversary. I had to laugh at how far we’ve come since our first Valentine’s Day together: February 14, 2010.

That was the year my co-workers (my best friends in Utah who helped see me through some very difficult adjustments; good, handsome, sharp married men with wisdom beyond their years as well as beautiful families) caught me on my way out the door as I was heading home for a date that night to ask, “Andrea, what’s the story with Mike? MANY others have come and gone while he has quietly hung in there, what’s up with that?” So I spent the next several minutes explaining nothing was going on, we were just friends—that he was just a very nice older man ( he’d had long hair and beard–a white beard–due to a theater role he was doing when I met him; I had never been a fan of facial hair, so I didn’t really look beyond that!) who felt bad for me, a divorced single mother of four children with no money who didn’t know anyone in her new home in Utah and that he was simply providing social experiences for me. My friends disagreed. They told me Mike was a man and men don’t do things like that; men always have a plan. I argued against that and their male logic…only to arrive home that night to a beautiful bouquet of roses that had been delivered to me with wishes for a Happy Valentine’s Day—from Mike. (That was also the night he warned me things were about to change in our relationship. Needless to say, they did!)

2011. That was the year we had been engaged for 9 months. We had a simple but fun evening together, however our big anticipation was our pending wedding (which ended up taking place, sort of unexpectedly, less than two weeks later.) Our Valentine’s celebration consisted of going to a late dinner by ourselves and then he surprised me with the first accessory item he ever purchased for me: a black, fringed, handbag. He got the black part right (I have always loved black), and because he’d seen me with a handbag that had fringed tassels probably assumed I was into fringe on purses. He was partly right, I do appreciate fringed tassels—on Gucci bags. It was just the long, hairy, fringy aspect of the entire purse he gave me that I wasn’t so sure about. He told me the story of the bag purchase, he told me I could return it for a different one, I thanked him for his thoughtfulness but at that stage of our relationship, I didn’t dare return it. So I  tried to make the bag work with my style and that effort lasted one week. Because everywhere I went, those who loved and cared about me offered to take care of that purse for me! I retired the handbag to my closet where it awaits just the perfect occasion…I’m thinking something along the lines of Halloween or a costume party. (Hint: When you’re handbag shopping for your fiancee, all of your children tell you a certain purse is “ugly” and only the totally unique, eclectically-styled and funky girl that can get away with anything and make it look cute disagrees, it may be best to make that a situation where the majority rules!)

2012. Our first Valentine’s Day married! My husband made reservations for us to eat at The Grill at Sundance resort (the restaurant we ate at the night we got engaged.) With 8 kids between us and limited funds, I assumed dinner would be our entire celebration. However unexpectedly, at work, I heard a voice behind me say, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Andrea!” and I turned around to find the receptionist at my company, beaming, as she excitedly handed me a beautiful bouquet of roses that had been delivered. Then a teddy bear arrived. Then chocolates arrived. Then my husband surprised me by coming home from work “early” (closer to 5 p.m. instead of his usual closer-to-6 p.m.) so we got to spend extra time together—my favorite part of the day—but the gifts kept coming, too. My husband totally outdid himself making me feel loved and special all day. It was my best Valentine’s Day ever!

I went to sleep that night later than usual, exhausted from working all day and staying out late that night on a date with my husband, but feeling so happy, content and loved in my unexpected life. The last thought I remember having as I drifted off to sleep that night was gratitude for a husband who put so much thought and effort into making me feel special and loved, not just every day but also on Valentine’s Day. Before I fell asleep I managed to whisper, “Thanks for everything you did for me today,” and the last thing I remember hearing, as I drifted off, was my husband’s quiet reply, “You’re welcome. Thank you for being my valentine.”

Sigh. Love.

“Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.” (William Shakespeare)


I just never saw it coming when I was thrust into my unexpected life. How grateful I am that I hung on through the clouds, the storm and the utter devastation of my world until the sun came out again.

Hang in there!

Love and…Kittens

“There would be no passion in this world if we never had to fight for what we love.” (Susie Switzer)

Before remarrying, my husband and I attended premarital counseling. I’ve documented some of the issues and challenges the premarital counselor warned us remarriage would present and that the counselor was right! But how grateful I am to be married to a man who, with each and every challenge each and every time, grabs my hand, looks into my eyes, tells me he’s “in it for the long haul,” quickly and humbly seeks to find a solution we both can live with, and then always adds how much easier our life and marriage is than other remarriages he knows and how much better everything is than he expected! (You’ve got to love his optimism among every other wonderful thing about him.)

So although he says we’ve never had a fight and that he has never (yet—haha!) been truly mad at me, we have had a few “differences of opinion” (that’s what my husband calls them) during the course of our dating, engagement and marriage. Second marriage moment #30? The realization that life, and marriage, is full of challenges to overcome—but there is always a way around or through each one. You’ve just got to be willing to take that first step toward conquering it and don’t stop until you’ve beat it.

And just as there seems to be no shortage of things to conquer in life AND marriage, ”No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.” (Abraham Lincoln) Never give up.

Second Marriage Moment #27

Second Marriage Moment #27 actually occurred before I married my husband. One night he called to tell me his son and his son’s friends were coming to my house to hang out. He told me the expectations he had shared with his son—and I made the mistaken assumption that he told me the rules he’d established so I could follow through and enforce them!


The son and his friends did things my fiance/husband had specifically forbidden and I called the son on it right away, as soon as I saw it transpire. In my culture, you see a wrong committed and you correct it then and there. It doesn’t matter who’s around. There’s no yelling or anger, you stop the behavior, re-establish expectations, and carry on.

Also in my culture: parents back each other up. If they disagree on parenting or anything else, they back each other up to the kids and resolve their differences privately. No big deal.

Except for one little thing which made it a BIG DEAL.

In my fiance/husband’s family, experience and culture, you take care of things later. After the friends are gone. All correction is done privately and to do anything else equals humiliation of the highest degree. (And the whole parents backing each other up thing? That never happened either.)

Oops. Second marriage moment #27 was a disaster.

Turns out, my fiance/husband had modified the rules after he’d told me what he expected, so his son hadn’t actually been disobedient; I just didn’t know that. In support of his father’s parenting, I called the son on his behavior immediately, and while his friends were in the vicinity—so I disciplined him AND humiliated him, according to his culture, in one moment, at the same time!

Way to go, Andrea!

Sometimes even I outdo myself.

But we got through it.

We talked it out as parents. I apologized to my stepson. And to his credit, he didn’t hold a grudge. In fact, this far past it…I can shake my head and laugh at the senseless disaster of it all. I mean, ” The next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it,” (Frank Clark) right?

I learned a lot from second marriage moment #27 and to laugh at it, continues the tradition of laughing at everything we can, instead of choosing to be overwhelmed by it, or get mad, at it all.

“I realize humor isn’t for everyone. It’s only for people who want to have fun, enjoy life and feel alive.” (“Real Life Quotes” blog, December 24, 2010, by Kevin Rayner)

Keep laughing.

Life Is Like A Soap Opera (Sometimes)

“You’ve got to realize that any lady on a soap is devoting her life to it, 24/7.” (Joan Van Ark)

I spent the majority of my years living a life of quiet obscurity: not a lot of trauma, drama or upheaval. In fact, truth be told, I probably prided myself on my normalcy and the lack of drama in my existence. However in 2009, when my world ended suddenly and publicly, that changed. I had trauma, drama, AND upheaval, coupled with grief, loss and a host of other hard things. But I got through it. And I looked forward to the day things would settle down and I wouldn’t feel like I was living a soap opera.

Instead, I found that life as a single mother, the “singles scene,” an engagement, blending children from two different families, remarriage and other experiences (and people) seemed to continue the…drama. One day, while chatting with my sister about the latest development (aka. learning experience), she laughed. I asked her what was so funny.

She replied, “Just that your life is SUCH a soap opera–and how horrified by it you are! Don’t worry about it!”

That’s life, isn’t it? Occasionally, life can feel like a soap opera. The important thing is doing the best with what you’ve got, doing what you believe is best for you and doing what you know to be right. Don’t get hung up on anything else–the drama, the antagonists or the latest challenging scene.

The soap opera called life.

But…”If you have to be in a soap opera try not to get the worst role.” (Judy Garland)

One Ambition

“Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.” (Bob Marley)

We survived the engagement portion of our relationship and married. But before I move on, I have to compliment #5 and his heroic attempts to keep us (and everything else) together during that time. Because at least for me, for us, being engaged in our 40s was very different than the last time. We came to the relationship with families, children, jobs, homes, church assignments, interests, hobbies and were both living very full lives before we even met, fell in love, and decided to be married. Our engagement wasn’t like the last time where we could drop just about everything to be with our intended. We had commitments and obligations; time with each other was limited.

Sometimes the only time each day we saw each other was 5 minutes in the workday morning, when #5 went out of his way to stop by my house on his way to work and before I left for mine, to say hello to me and to see the children before they left for school; or late at night, when #5 went out of his way to stop by for a few minutes after a show he was performing in, to say hello before he went home. Not a lot of time together. It was common for other couples marrying that I knew, as well. They both had homes, lives, and sometimes they even lived in separate cities–and continued to–even after they were married.

When we married, it came together so fast I didn’t think beyond the wedding day, honeymoon, the welfare of my children while I was out of town and my return to work afterward. So driving home from the honeymoon, as we entered Utah county, I realized real life was about to set in and I was struck with a thought I’d never had before: what is the plan? As in, where was #5 planning to live (and sleep) now that we were married? I knew it was the evening, we had to work the next day, and #5 didn’t have any personal belongings at my house. I suddenly realized I didn’t know what to expect!

I asked, “Where are you staying tonight?”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized my idiocy and saw the answer in his eyes. He looked at me like I was clueless (which I am and demonstrate on far too many occasions, exemplified, for example, by the events of 2009), shook his head like I was crazy (no comment!) and replied, “Of course your house–OUR house–we’re married!”

I said, “We both have homes, you don’t have anything at mine, we have to go to work tomorrow and I’d never thought that far ahead, so I wasn’t sure.”

He laughed and said, “Yes, it’s going to be a busy night. We’ll stop and see the kids and then we’ve got to run to my house and get some of my stuff and move it to the house so I can go to work tomorrow!”And that’s exactly what we did, although #5 was very patient to basically live out of a suitcase the first week or two of our marriage as he transitioned from living in his house, to mine.

That was the first “second marriage moment” for me. Only in a second marriage would you even wonder where your husband will live–your house, or his!

“What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow.” (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

When It Rains, It Pours

“However long the night the dawn will break.” (African Proverb)

Sometimes in life, especially the unexpected one, it seems like you just can’t get a break. I remember in the revelations my former husband made in March 2009, every new fact that came to light each day was worse than the one before–and it seemed to happen all day, every day, for awhile.

When it rains it pours.

And when it does that, umbrella or no umbrella (I NEVER have an umbrella!) you just have to hang on. “When it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” (Gilbert K. Chesterton) Eventually things calm down, even in the most unexpected of lives. Even in the one I’ve lived.

As I progressed in my unexpected life, met #5 and continued to heal, life REALLY calmed down. Friends and family called to check on me, and I felt like, eventually, I didn’t have a lot to report; I didn’t need much, if any, help. I didn’t have a crisis I needed counsel about. My children were thriving. My job was going well. In fact, even coming up with entries (things I’d learned, things I’d experienced) for blog posts became difficult. I took it as a sign I was getting back to “normal,” as was my life.

And then not too long ago, it began to rain again. This time in earnest. But THIS time…for the good! (By this, I mean that everything that “rained” on me and my family recently was welcome and “easy” to accept and experience. I still believe the rain, even the “acid rain” of an unexpected life, can turn out to be for the good; it provides certain “nutrients” that help us grow and become so much more than we would otherwise have been. From mine, I’ve learned things I never would have learned any other way. I’ve grown in ways I didn’t necessarily want to, but I believe my growth has made me better. It’s just not always easy when you’re being showered upon with growth experiences!)

Here’s what poured out upon us recently, in less than a 2-week period:

My son got his acceptance to BYU.

The home #5 had listed for sale at the beginning of our engagement (which due to the housing slump in Utah had hardly been looked at by prospective buyers) got an offer.

The production company casting a role #5 had auditioned for and was growing his hair for contacted him and told him NOT to cut his hair, he was being considered for a speaking role (out of the almost 3,000 people that had auditioned in Utah, Europe, Africa, South America and Israel.) Even if he doesn’t end up with a part, it was exciting to be considered for a role out of so many actors who auditioned.

My middle son was selected to participate in his school district’s Science Fair, one of a few students chosen to represent his elementary school.

And so much more.

There really was only one thing missing.

And then, finally, it came too.

“So, do I think I’m missing something? I really don’t, and I think that comes with age.” (Jami Gertz)

The Packet

“Shake hands forever, cancel all our vows, And when we meet at any time again, Be it not seen in either of our brows, That we one jot of former love retain.” (Michael Drayton)

As I said, to obtain the necessary cancellation and clearance to remarry in a L.D.S. temple, a packet of paperwork must be completed and submitted to your local pastor.

As part of that packet, you must write a letter regarding your first marriage; when and where it took place, why your marriage ended, if there is any hope for reconciliation, and other personal information; your former spouse must write a letter–they’re free to share whatever they want to share, I think; your pastor must write a letter; and the pastor of the person you’re engaged to must write a letter. All of that is included with your application.

You must then be interviewed by your pastor.

You must then be interviewed by the local church leader who presides over your pastor’s congregation and several other L.D.S. congregations and pastors.

And then your packet is sent to Church Headquarters, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Your fiance goes through the same application process on his end and his packet is also sent to Salt Lake City.

When both are received, the applications are reviewed. If information is missing, if more information is required, or if there are any other questions, the paperwork is returned for additional information. Sometimes a certain amount of time must pass before an application can be made. Sometimes it’s an issue of rounding everything up from everyone involved–it can take awhile! Factor in holidays, vacations, mail time, missed phone calls, wait time for appointments, and the rest of life…it takes a fair amount of time to complete the necessary paperwork, gather the required letters and obtain the authorization.

You never know how long it will take.

And as it is a very private matter, you don’t always know the reasons for the delays.

And you wait.

In my case, while you wait, you hear a lot of stories. And now here comes the gossip (feel free to skip it, every bit of the following is hearsay and could be completely inaccurate or untrue–having passed through who knows how many mouths and ears–but all shared with me by well-meaning people with the good intention of helping me know what to expect.) I call it “divorced L.D.S. gossip,” but here is just some of what I’ve heard the past 9 1/2 months: a church leader and his wife of 20 years STILL waiting for their authorization to be sealed in the temple; a worthy couple, both with regular temple recommends, waiting 2 years for their authorization to be sealed in the temple; a couple waiting four months for their authorization; and that the average wait for authorization is anywhere between 30 days and three months–it depends on each individual and situation, and to what degree additional information is needed.

I began the process, so did #5.

“What’s interesting about the process…is how often you don’t know what you’re doing.” (Alan Rickman)

Why Wait?

“My kids always perceived the bathroom as a place where you wait it out until all the groceries are unloaded from the car.” (Erma Bombeck)

Or in the case of my younger sister, the bathroom is where you wait it out until all of the dinner dishes are done! (I’m sure I’ll hear from her on this one. But she KNOWS what I’m talking about:)

As an adult, since my engagement to #5, I’ve also been “waiting it out,” but unfortunately, couldn’t hide in a bathroom; I had to keep living my life.

What was I waiting for?

Marriage. To get married, to be exact. Actually, it’s THE reason for my “long” engagement and wait. Yes, the time to thoroughly get to know one another, to help our children prepare for the life change and blending of families has been very helpful. But the main reason for the wait is that I need authorization to marry where I wanted to marry.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe in marriage (and family) and in beginning all of that by marrying in a L.D.S. temple. A temple is the place we believe covenants, and the ties that bind, are made not for just this life but for eternity.

To qualify for the privilege of going to a temple to worship, marry or participate in other ordinances you must have a temple recommend (a paper permit.) This is required not because what takes place in a temple is secret (it’s not secret), but because the ordinances performed therein are so sacred. To receive a temple recommend, you must live certain standards and then obtain the recommend/permit from your local clergy.

In a first marriage, you only need a temple recommend to be married and sealed to your chosen spouse. In the case of divorce, additional authorization beyond a temple recommend is required to remarry in a temple. Men and women sealed to previous spouses in a L.D.S. temple must obtain special permission to be sealed to a new husband or wife in a temple. The additional authorization is known as a cancellation or clearance of your previous sealing and it is in letter form. As both #5 and I had been married and sealed in a temple to our previous spouses, both of us needed additional authorization to remarry in a temple. And that letter of authorization to do so comes directly from The First Presidency of The Church. They are the only men who grant that permission.

It is a process that takes time. In fact, you never know how long it all can take to gather the required information, complete the interviews necessary and do everything else that is part of obtaining a cancellation or clearance to remarry in a temple. I think for that reason, most L.D.S. couples who remarry choose to marry civilly (not in a L.D.S. temple) initially, and then go to a temple approximately one year after their civil wedding to be sealed to one another.

But that’s not me.

For a variety of reasons, I guess.

My parents raised me to live a life that would allow me to marry in a temple, and I had always chosen to live that way. I hadn’t changed, I didn’t change the way I lived or what I believed in, just because my former spouse made the choices he did. Or because I was divorced or living an unexpected life. A temple marriage was still my ideal. For me, it was the place to marry–my only choice.

I was also raising my children to marry in a temple. I needed to remarry in the temple not just for me, but also as an example to them (especially given the “example” the other Merriman parent had set.)

We began the application process that would allow us to marry in a L.D.S. temple within weeks after we got engaged. We just never realized how long it would take.

“If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.” (Oscar Wilde)


Our Break Up

“Eyes that do not cry, do not see.” (Swedish Proverb)

I’d come to the realization of how I truly felt too late. I think maybe I’d found #5 so quickly, so “easily”, and had healed so thoroughly and completely during our engagement, that maybe a small part of me began to take the miracle of #5 a little bit for granted.


Could even a tiny part of me also have begun to think I might be doing him a little bit of a favor by marrying him? (Ludicrous, I know! I mean, look at me! Look at my life! WHO would want to take my unexpected life on? Probably no one BUT #5, yet when there was an issue to be resolved I seemed to ask myself, “Wait. Is this really what I want? Is this going to be good for me, for my children? Should I really do this?”)

In fact, one time I’d told #5 that’s what engagements are for–to try the relationship out, see if it works for us, see if it’s what we want, knowing we don’t have to follow through with it and can back out if it’s not right or not working for us. He, however, was appalled at that rationale. He said that is NOT what engagements are, in his eyes. That he would never have proposed to me had he not been fully committed to me and marrying me. To #5, engagements were very similar to marriage (except for the living together aspect.)

Very different philosophies. But we’d hung in there together, for a long time, until THAT night. The night he dumped me.

And then suddenly, dinner and dessert were over, everyone left, and it was just us standing alone in the kitchen again. I braced myself for his departure. I thought, “Ok, here is where he actually does leave. I guess we’ll figure the details of the break-up out later. I just don’t want to be home when he gets his stuff.”

But instead of turning and leaving, he said something very unexpected. He looked at me and asked, “Would you like to go to your room and talk?”

That’s when I REALLY knew it was over. He never set foot in the upstairs of my house, especially my bedroom (to set a good example for our kids.) But in that moment, that night, he went there willingly.  To talk about our break up.

I walked up the stairs to my room so nervous I could hardly breathe.

I dreaded the conversation.

We walked into my room, he shut and locked the door behind him, and turned around to face me.

“Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you.” (Groucho Marx)