I recently read an article in the newspaper under the “Ask Amy” column entitled “Second Wife Feels the Heart Should Not Go On.” In the “Dear Amy” letter, a woman was disturbed because her husband had purchased a gold heart for her and she later learned that he had also purchased his first wife the same gift. She had received the gift in love and wore it every day until she found out that her husband had given the same gift to his first wife. The second wife also complained of him using the same phrases such as “You are the best thing that ever happened to me” that he has also said to his first wife who was now deceased. I read the article twice to see why the wife was so upset.
My mind immediately thought back to the gifts my own Dad had given my Mother over the years. We had a family secret that we have never told Dad to this day. On more than one occasion, Dad had actually purchased Mom the same necklace he had gotten for her birthday, he also bought it again for their anniversary. My Dad wasn’t the greatest shopper in the world, he just saw something he thought Mom would love and he would buy it for her. The older he got, he couldn’t remember what he had bought for the previous occasion. To protect Dad’s error, Mom would often give the extra necklace or watch to one of us four girls to protect Dad’s feelings. Mom didn’t get upset because Dad bought her the same thing twice, she accepted his faults and thanked him for making the effort to express his love through the gifts he had selected for her.
The more I thought about it, I felt sorry for the woman in the “Ask Amy” article. Even though she had also been married previously, she was obviously dealing with some insecurity as it relates to her marriage. My advice to the woman would be similar to Amy Dickinson’s advice. That is to accept the husband’s blunder in love and put the necklace back on. It is obvious that the husband was trying to express his love in the only way he knew how. In addition, I would really like to know who alerted her that he had given a gold heart also to his first wife. Was it one of his children? My guess would be it was someone who wanted to make her question her husband’s love for her.
Insecurity can sometimes cause second wives to feel threatened by the first wife and also the children from the first marriage. If your husband is a widower, respect the love he had for his first wife, because he will also love you until death do you part. If your husband is divorced, remember that the prior relationship was unsuccessful and is not a threat to your marriage. Don’t get caught up in comparisons and don’t allow others to make the comparisons for you.
I have to laugh every time I remember a situation that happened when my husband and I first married. As the First Lady of the church, I get my own parking spot. During the time my husband was divorced the sign was taken down from the First Lady parking spot. Once we married, the deacons replaced the sign. One Sunday morning, my husband with his children in tow, pulled into his parking spot at the church. His youngest daughter noticed the First Lady reserved sign had been put back up and asked her Dad why the sign read First Lady? She continued to inquire “Shouldn’t it say Second Lady instead of First Lady? Mom was the First Lady so she should be the Second Lady.”
There are two ways I could have handled the situation when my husband told me what she had said. I could have gotten upset and made sure my stepdaughter knew that I had every right to be called the First Lady or I could take the high road and see it for what it was: a ten year old girl trying to make sense of her new life in a stepfamily. Had I been insecure, I could have burned the whole house down.
If you are a second wife, you don’t have to walk around with the second wife blues. Have faith in your relationship and don’t allow the ghosts of the past or those who desire to destroy your relationship to upset the apple cart in your marriage. Remember, we are creatures of habit and will often say and do some of the same things we did in a former relationship. Should my current spouse be upset if I buy him a watch for Christmas and later he finds out that while married to my first husband I also bought him a watch for his birthday?
Lastly, stop thinking of yourself as the second wife. You are the wife! Establish traditions in your marriage without worrying about what you or your husband did in your former marriages. In fact there really isn’t much reason to bring up your former marriages unless you are discussing what you are vowing to do better in this marriage. Live in the present moment, enjoy your life together and continue to make new memories.
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach