Case Study #3 for Ring EXchange book - Vincent

Vincent has been married five times.  Now in his early 60s, he is a retired college professor and author who holds multiple B.A. degrees.   Vincent owns a private practice in the healing arts on the West Coast.  His two grown male children live in other parts of the U.S.  He says of his current relationship, "It is perfect.  We are similar in our likes and habits, despite a significant age difference."

Raised by happily married parents in a lower-middle-class background, Vincent has  a younger brother.  They had a stable life, insofar as they stayed in the same home and the boys went to the same schools.  However, Vincent describes his childhood as only moderately happy, since his mother and father were quite strict with their children.

When did he have his very first girlfriend?  "I was 14; the relationship lasted about a year."  Vincent recalls that his first romantic experience took place at age 17, and his first serious romantic relationship occurred the following year, when he was 18.  That relationship led to his first marriage, at 19 1/2.  "We met in community college.  I wanted to be responsible."

But that first marriage ended in a couple of years because Vincent caught his young wife cheating on him.  Despite that unhappy discovery, he was not disillusioned about marriage, and in fact was open to the possibility of remarrying.

And he did remarry, at 23, but that wife turned out to be mentally unstable and a crack addict;  he divorced for the second time.  Soon after the divorce, he started dating again;  one woman he was dating had a young child whom Vincent had grown very attached to (he admits, "I actually fell in love with her boy and wanted to help raise him").  He proposed to the woman, and they got married.  Although that union did not last long either, because his wife was an alcoholic, Vincent adopted her 6-year-old boy.  When his ex-wife decided to move to another state with her older child, but not with the younger boy, Vincent became a single dad. 

After his third divorce, loneliness was a big factor in Vincent's decision to start dating yet again.  This time he was 32 when he married, and that marriage lasted for 20 years.  Then "mutual disillusionment" set in.  After being involved in a bad motorcycle accident that had taken him six years to recover from, he rethought the basics of how he wanted to live.  Although his wife assumed that Vincent would continue to be a hard-driving corporate business owner, which he had been when they met, his idea of what was important to him had completely changed.  His choice was to lead retreats, establish a private practice in the healing arts, and live a more or less contemplative life.   So it became quite obvious that the couple was interested in following completely different life paths.  Eventually, they divorced. And this time, Vincent was single for eight years before he married for a fifth time. 

Vincent says that actually he has always been  looking for these attributes in all his marriage partners -- honesty, intelligence, sincerity, humor, and sexual compatibility.  But it wasn't until his current marriage partner that he found that entire combination of attributes in one person.


Calling the relationship "a miracle" and "delightful," Vincent says the couple has their own private "sign language" that they use at a party, for example, to alert the other partner -- from across the room -- that it's time to go home.  And they have a process that he calls "Mind Meld," where the couple literally "puts their heads together" and then tap their hearts, to show that they are in sync.

Vincent met his current wife through a mutual colleague, and remarried, for the fifth time, at age 60.  It's this marriage that, he says, is really "ideal."  He explains, "Sometimes couples have complementary styles -- as in, opposites attract.  But this is so much better, because we are very similar in our outlook and our tastes -- we even have the same songs on our iPods! After learning so many lessons from past relationships, this relationship seems effortless.  We have clear, open communication, a joyful energy, a strong friendship, and a spiritual connection that is very blessed."