“You Never Forget Someone You Cared For”: Couple Remarries Fifty Years After Divorce

August 1, 2012  |  

Source: Associated Press

You only live once, but you can certainly get married to the same person twice.

Lena Henderson and Roland Davis are 85 years old. The couple got married in their teens, divorced 20 years and four children later, then after nearly fifty years apart, they’re marrying each other again.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The couple plans to get married again on Saturday, with four generations on hand to see it happen.

Henderson and Davis met as teenagers in Chattanooga, Tenn., and were married by a justice of the peace. There was no reception or honeymoon.

“Oh no,” Henderson recalled with a laugh. “He went to work and I went home.” Davis was a hotel bellhop at the time, about to begin a career in the military.

This time around, a church wedding is planned, at Elim Christian Fellowship Church in Buffalo, followed by a reception at an Amherst restaurant.

Still no honeymoon trip, though.

“I’m just happy that we’re here,” said Davis, who recently moved to suburban Buffalo from Colorado, where he was living alone following the death of his second wife in January. Henderson also was widowed after re-marrying.

Davis proposed to Henderson over the phone around Easter and she accepted, even though they hadn’t seen each other since a family funeral in 1996. Before that, the two hadn’t been face-to-face since splitting up in 1964, though they had stayed in touch and kept up with each other’s lives through the children.

Their oldest daughter, Johnnie Mae Funderbirk, had been urging her father to return to New York since his wife’s death.

Davis was receptive, especially to the idea of reconnecting with Henderson.

“I had always kind of had that in mind, mostly because of the children,” he said. “You never forget someone that you cared for at one time or another.”

Henderson and Davis both said it was “nice” to see one another again, this time as an engaged couple.

The children are less reserved.

“I’m as excited as some 9-year-old whose parents are getting back together,” Funderbirk said, “and I’m 65 years old.”

“It’s every child’s dream, every child who has ever been in a family where divorce has occurred, that your parents would come back together,” their youngest daughter, Renita Chadwick, said.

“We are all so ridiculously excited. We’re like little children again,” said Chadwick, herself a grandmother.

Well, it certainly isn’t every child’s dream to see their divorced parents get back together but it’s definitely an awesome story.

Helen Fisher, chief scientific adviser for Chemistry.com told NBC that couples remarrying makes psychological sense. “There were real reasons that you were attracted to somebody originally. The brain doesn’t pick willy-nilly. Unless you part ways hating each other for some reason, that mechanism could get triggered again. You can literally fall in love again.”

Celebrities do it (Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson), but non-celebrities do too. Apparently, no official agency tracks the number of divorced couples who remarry each other, but it happens consistently in cities across the country each year.  One psychology professor, Nancy Kalish, estimates that roughly six percent of couples marry, divorce then remarry each other.

Why couples remarry after divorcing may be as complicated as why they divorce in the first place, according to Traverse City divorce attorney John Tilley. Some find solutions to their problems. Some need time apart to grow up. And some realize the grass isn’t greener on the other side after all.

Congratulations to Roland and Lena!

What do you think about this story? Can you imagine reconciling with an ex after 50 years?

Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink

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