For those of us remarried, this is a fair question. Especially if we were not the one that wanted the divorce that got us here.
My wife and I had to come to grips with this reality. I got walked-out-on in my first marriage. I had a tough time accepting and letting go especially since new hurts and injustices continued to arise that would take me back emotionally to the initial pain.
I was hurt and bewildered for years. How could I in this state express honestly to a new woman in my life that she was “The One”? That she was now the love of my life? Great questions eh? They had to be asked and they had to be answered in order for me to truly move on and form a new, loving, happy, and intimate relationship.
A few keys for me were:
1. Acceptance: I had to learn this word on a dimension that I never knew existed. I had to identify where I was living in self-pity and accept that unfair and bad things happen to people all the time and have throughout history. And that fairness and justice may never arrive in this circumstance. Yet acceptance at a deep level could allow me to move on in spite of these inequities.
My new wife also needed to learn acceptance that I had been devastated on many dimensions in my divorce and that the healing process would take time. My imperfections in dealing with things would show up from time to time and as long as I was not wallowing in them, she accepted that there was some residual injuries that only time could deal with.
2. Owning our stuff: Even thought I got left for another man, I had a big part in why the marriage got to this point. I had to be rigorously honest about what I had to deal with and change so I didn’t bring these things to the next relationship. I had to be careful to not let my ex’s hurtful behaviour overshadow the reality of my shortcomings. In this way, I could bring a better “me” to the new relationship and thereby make it a totally new thing so there was no basis to compare this relationship to the last…. and thereby move away from the “Second wife, second best” dynamic.
My new wife had to own her stuff too. She had to be real about what ended her first marriage in the same way I did. She also had to be real about how she felt about the hangover of my ex. She had to deal with any insecurities about this fact and be sure of who she was to me. She had to be equally convinced within herself that she was not second best.
3. Get Help: Come on… there is no longer any excuse to not have help in a marriage relationship in North America. Counselors, books, Internet, church, support groups, marriage mentors…. how many of these existed 20+ years ago? We got both Drs. Phil and Laura and others on TV/Radio. If they are not your flavour, you can find some other resource that is. It is there and much of it is free. We just have to show up with willingness and an open mind.
The result is that I am nuts about my new wife. It has been a few years since we first met and were married after nearly 3 years of dating. My affection grows for her by the week. We are working better and better as a couple and blended family. But none of this…. and I have to state plainly NONE OF THIS happens by accident or just sitting around doing the same dumb crap we did yesterday. Or thinking the same self-pitying, self-limiting ways we did before. It takes effort and commitment to do what we have not done before. We have troubles but we work on them in ways neither of us did in our first marriages.
Today is a brand new day to think differently, to live differently. And if we continue in this long enough, we become a brand new person. So for me, life moves in only one direction…. forward. With my new wife who is the best for me.