Monday, October 13, 2014

FAQ About Being the Second Wife

My husband was married once before. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (as a Mormon) this often surprises people. Anyone who knew me before I met Zach is also surprised--I don't share things and the territory of marriage is most definitely something I didn't want to share. Luckily I have never been raised to think that divorced people are "bad" or anything like that. Did I think I would marry someone who had been divorced? I honestly didn't give much thought about that. I always knew I would marry someone different...someone who didn't quite fit the mold in Mormon culture. I would have to, I don't fit the mold.

I get questions about this pretty often and some I thought I'd address some. Please note that Zach's story is not my story. It's not mine to share, so I can only address this from my perspective.

divorce remarried

Some basic facts: Zach was married for three years (yes in an LDS temple--if you want more information about that, I would be happy to answer--just send me an email or ask me in the comments section) and he did not have any children with his first wife.

What are your thoughts on marriage and divorce?

I believe that marriage is an eternal commitment and should not be taken lightly.

I believe that divorce happens all too often these days, but that sometimes it's what is  necessary/best for the individual, the couple, or the family. I know that some may disagree with me, but I stand by that. 

Does/did Zach's divorce bother you?

Initially Zach's divorce didn't bother me at all. I was honestly a little intrigued by it as strange as that sounds. I met Zach SOON after he separated from his wife. He was sort of "off limits" and I was attracted to that "unattainable" quality. I felt like even if I did start dating him, things would have to go slow and that kept me from freaking out (as was a common response for me with men).

I remember sitting in the car with Zach the very first time we were alone and I asked him why he was getting divorced. He answered very honestly and listed off a number of things I had said I would NEVER marry a man who had done/who was those things. But I very much respected his honesty and his openness. Even more, though, I admired that he did not speak poorly of his ex-wife. To this day you will never hear him talk badly about her. I still very much admire that.

Even though Zach had listed a number of things off that were "deal breakers" for me. I kept spending time with him (and therefore, kept falling in love with him) because I was never uncomfortable in his presence. For me, I usually at some time or another felt uncomfortable with men I would go on dates with even if there was nothing wrong with them. Zach never made me feel that way and that meant a lot to me. (It didn't hurt that I was intensely attracted to him.)

What is the hardest thing about being part of a second marriage?

After we were married I struggled the most. I struggled with sharing the territory of marriage. All of my firsts were not Zach's first and that was very difficult for me. I really wish I had more insight on how I dealt with it, but I just kept plugging along and tried to not think so hard about sharing aspects of marriage or being his "second."

Another thing that bothered me was worrying we would get divorced. The first year and a half of our marriage I am sure I drove Zach crazy with questions like, "Were you guys as good of friends as we are?" "Did you cuddle on the couch?" "Did you eat dinner together?" "Were you as happy as we are?" I asked these things because I wanted him to tell me no. I wanted him to tell me that they never did any of the things we did and they were never happy. I wanted him to tell me that he was basically miserable for three straight years. I wanted him to tell me those things so that I would feel like we were "better" or we would be "more successful."

But that wasn't logical. People don't start out unhappy in marriages usually. Of course they had good times and good memories. Eventually I fell into a place where I could focus on our marriage and everything that made us, us. I realized that all I could control was my commitment to our marriage and my willingness to keep our marriage healthy. I felt incredibly secure and no longer worried about our future.

What did Zach's family and friends think?

 This was something I worried a lot about. For the most part, Zach's friends took to me immediately. We became a little group and spent every night together for a good quarter of the first year of our relationship. I love Zach's friends and they love me. I was nervous. I am competitive and the thought of being compared to his first wife made me nervous. I wanted them to not only like me but I wanted them to like me more. They least most of them. They have directly told me that. Not because I am a better person, but because I am a good fit for Zach. He was happier with me than they had seen him before and it felt good to hear that and to be so accepted.

As for whether or not Zach's family likes me, I would say most of them do. I think a lot of his family members were reluctant about me at first. I came into his life VERY QUICKLY and our relationship progressed quickly as well. He has family everywhere and for those that weren't there to really watch things unfold or see how things happened, I often worried what they thought of me. I've been told by many family members that Zach and I are a great fit and that I'm loved. I know that they see us as a strong partnership even if there are parts of our relationship they don't understand.

What did your family and friends think?

I come from a very accepting family. To my knowledge, nobody even batted an eye at the fact he had been married before. Of course people had a few questions here and there, but he was instantly accepted and well-liked by my family.

I have different pockets and groups of friends. The group of friends I was with the night I met Zach were on board immediately. They saw everything happen from the beginning. They were supportive and encouraging and excited for me. Other friends were surprised that I was dating someone that had been married before and others were concerned--especially considering the rate at which things evolved and got serious for us. While I certainly preferred the reactions of my friends that were happy for me, I understand those that were reluctant. Just like some of Zach's family, they didn't see things happen and so here comes this guy out of nowhere, dating a girl just after he'd been divorced.

What will you tell your kids?

We will most definitely tell our children about Zach's first marriage. We don't know when, we will honestly play that by ear and go by our gut. We will not keep it a secret. There won't be a whole lot to discuss with our kids, but we'll tell them about it and answer any questions they might have. (If our children are anything like me they will have lots of questions about it and they'll want to know a lot. If our children are anything like Zach they will shrug their shoulders, say, "Okay," and move on.)

Do you have any questions related to this topic?  I'm happy to answer them!Or if you're in a similar situation to mine, I'd love to see how your experience compares to mine.

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