Marriage does work

I’ve mentioned a couple of times during this series that my guest, Carlos has now remarried and will be celebrating his fourth anniversary in June. Clearly, Carlos still believes in marriage though his divorce, something he never thought would happened to him, gave him the key to a successful marriage. Here’s Carlos:

[contemplate1] Never in a million years did I think I would get divorced. Never in a million years. One of my goals was to be one of the only people in my family that hadn’t gotten divorced. I grew up in a single parent home, my mom, my two sisters and my grandmother, so when I got married, I said,

“I want to do this for a lifetime.”

Wedding bandJust about everybody in my family has been divorced. Mom, uncle, everybody and I wanted to be the one to break this nonsense from our family. I was really determined to do that, but unfortunately, it just didn’t work out that way.

I’m still of the belief that marriage does work. I believe that unfortunately, a lot of people in our society don’t work at their marriage. I know there are different circumstances surrounding every single divorce situation out there, so I couldn’t dare speak to all of those, but a lot of what I have found since I have been divorced, and a lot of what I have found in doing interviews with several individuals who have gone through divorce is that when the divorce is over and they sit back and look at their former spouse, the handwriting for them being in a divorce was always on the wall from the beginning.

A lot of times, we just didn’t pay attention to some of the character traits that we needed to for us not to end up in the situation that we were in, because they were always there all along. I believe that there is someone out there that is perfect for you, if you’re someone who is supposed to be married and that the marriage will work, you just have to be willing to be selfless and work at it, both of you.

Marriages start to end when the communication stops, so the moment that one person stops talking to their spouse and starts talking to whoever outside of the relationship, whether it’s girlfriends or whoever else, that’s the beginning of the end. If you can talk things through as they come up and have the type of relationship that you can be open and honest in, “this is what I’m feeling, this is what’s going on with me, can we talk this through or can we get some help about this?” then you can make sure that you have a lasting marriage.

My boys and I are very, very close. We have a very unusually close relationship. We’ve been through a lot together—good, bad and the ugly. For a while there they were thinking,

“marriage doesn’t work, relationships don’t work, I don’t want to have any part of it,”

and I didn’t want them to think that, to never want to have a family of their own. Thankfully, since I’ve been married to my second wife, Clarissa, and the boys absolutely love her and love our marriage and love seeing our marriage, they have finally turned their minds around and are seeing that marriage does work,

“Daddy’s happy and Mama’s happy, so I think we’ll be okay one day if we get married ourselves.”

I am extremely grateful for how everything has turned out, despite the ups and downs and despite the emotional roller coaster of the holidays and the weekends and the events. As time goes on and as you accept the reality of what has happened and as you move into, for me, a new marriage and a new marriage relationship, I had to just get to a place where I said,

“What do I have to be angry about? My boys are happy, I’m happier than I have ever been in my life, I’m taking what I went through to try to help someone else as best as I possibly can so what do I have to be angry about?”

Living life from that place has been so freeing and so rewarding.


Many of us can look back and see red flags we ignored. There were certainly some red flags I discounted before I got married and there were some afterwards too. I ignored them partly because I believed I could be flexible and they would be unimportant , partly because I was rebelling against what I perceived to be family expectations and then later because I didn’t have the courage to confront the issues. I thought that ignoring them would make the issue go away or resolve itself and that didn’t happen.

I think if there was one piece of wisdom I could impart to my children, it would be to make that decision to get married with careful and thorough deliberation and discussion. And if there are topics you can’t discuss civilly, then to Carlos’s point, that in itself is a red flag. I’m not saying you have to agree on everything but can you discuss everything and at least respect each other’s viewpoint.

Carlos says he believes marriage does work for you if you’re someone who’s supposed to be married. Are there some people who simply aren’t cut out for marriage? Would you get remarried or are you saying never again?

This is the last in this series with Carlos Phillips. I’d like to thank Carlos for sharing his story with us. I do believe men and women experience divorce differently but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other. Carlos is giving away a copy of his book, Healed Without Scars to a lucky reader. One way of entering is to leave a comment on one of the posts in this Carlos series. The full rules for this giveaway are posted here. The giveaway will close at 6 a.m. MT on Friday February 25.

Photo credit: jcoterhals

  • Missy June

    Oh yes, I can look back and see so many red flags. One of the things that troubles me is why I was willing to move forward in the face of them. This is something I have worked on in therapy, and continue to confront in other relationships (even a babysitter!).

    • Mandy

      Missy June – would love to hear more about why you were willing to overlook the red flags. Would you share?

  • KT

    I look back and see all the red flags. I honestly think I even saw them before we married, but I chose to ignore them thinking this is what I had to do, or what I needed to do, for various reasons. I look back and wonder what I was thinking, why I did what I did, but I’m learning to stop that behavior because 1) if I did do something different I wouldn’t have my wonderful kids and 2) I can’t change the past, I can only learn from it and make a better future

    • Mandy

      I agree – the value in examining your past decisions comes from how they can guide you for the future, not from judging yourself.

  • Yrr

    Nothing bothers me more than when someone enters a marriage with the mentality “if things do not work out..I can always get a divorce!”. I understand divorce needs to happen for some but with that attitude I just referenced, that’s the problem with society! Some people just give up without a fight (ie my ex-husband,effective tomorrow). Sad sad..can’t make a mockery out of marriage!

    • Mandy Walker

      Hi Yrr – I have met very few people who have gone into marriage thinking that they could get a divorce if it didn’t work out. That being said, I think marriage is about what it means to the two people entering into. Understanding that calls for deep, open, honest discussion before marriage on a diverse range of topics and that often doesn’t happen – with hindsight, I think I could have done a better job of this.