On Being the Second Wife

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When we say ‘I do’, I think it’s safe to say that we’re doing so with every intention of those vows lasting forever. But as we know, as we’ve heard from you, our readers, things can change. Forever isn’t always so.

With that in mind, this beautifully written piece from the writer behind The Baby Wife, shows us that second time round doesn’t mean second best. That a second wedding doesn’t mean a second marriage.

Enjoy, readers.

Falling in love with your future husband is full of blissful firsts. The first date, the first kiss, the first time you say ‘I love you’.
Your first fight, your first home, the first time you meet adversity and overcome it as a team.
The first (and hopefully only time) he presents you with a ring and asks you to be his wife.
Perfect first moments. But when your future husband has been married before, it’s all too easy to let those memories be tainted.
Tainted by thoughts that it isn’t the first time he has loved someone enough to propose, that it isn’t the first time he has stood at the altar hand in hand with another. That he’s ‘been there, done that’ all before.
No matter how long ago it was (in our case, they have been divorced 10 years) it still has an impact on your wedding. From the awkward conversation with our minister about whether she could still marry us, to our choice of venue, music, colours, food, and even men’s outfits, we were conscious that we didn’t want to replicate any part of his first wedding.
I admit, there were occasional tears over it. Not because I doubted him in any way, but because I felt there was constantly a dark shadow hovering behind us throughout the planning process. Looking back, I’m ashamed to admit it, but some days I almost felt resentful, angry even, that I had this hanging over ‘my’ wedding. Angry (stupidly) that he hadn’t known he was going to marry me one day (even if I was only 14 when he got married the first time. That’s how irrational I got).
It made my future husband different too. First time round, he had no say in any part of the planning. This time, he was very involved, intent on giving us a day that reflected us both, a day that he could take equal ownership of with me.  And with that, the resentful feelings disappeared. All his effort was going in to ensuring that our marriage had the perfect start, and I couldn’t love him more for that.
As second wives go, I was lucky. A long time had passed since the divorce, there were no children to complicate matters, and his mother held nothing but great distaste for ‘she who shall not be named’ (ah yes, comparisons to Voldemort are perhaps even too kind). There was never  comparisons between us, and for that I am eternally grateful.
And our wedding? From the first time we pledged our lives to each other, to our first dance as man and wife, it was a day of wonderful firsts. Yes, my husband had experienced a wedding before, but it was our first time getting married to each other, and that is a memory that can never be tainted.
Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Marriage
11 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted February 13, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Great post!

    You will always have firsts with your husband as nothing will ever compare to the relationship he now has with you.


  2. Posted February 13, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    This was a fantastic read and beautifully written.

    I had the priviledge of watching both my parents remarry. I was my father's best man {yes, really} and a witness at my Mother's wedding. Watching them make those vows taught me a lot about relationships and true love and about the right to mess up and start over. In many ways I think I have a healthier view of marriage than friends whose parents have been married for 30-odd years. As you say, it was their first time getting married to each other, and that's what counts.

    Loveaudrey xxx

  3. Becca
    Posted February 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I think its fantastic that you've dealt with it so well. The message here for me is that you can't erase a person's history, even if that history was with someone else. I know of couples that have both been to Portugal with their respective Ex's but have to "go back together" (even though neither really enjoyed it) because they hadn't been together, so for them it was like they hadn't been. You can't forget that before a marriage (first time or fifth time) that people will have had serious relationships and perhaps even lived with someone for a long period of time.

    Love this post.

  4. Posted February 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I love this post. I love that you're brave enough to say that you are sad that "I'm not the first person he's wanted to marry". Which I too would feel, and shows how unrealistic and idealised our view of the perfect marriage is.

  5. Liz
    Posted February 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I am also a second wife and can relate to this entire post. Its a very strange feeling knowing that your husband has done this before.

    I knew virtually no details about his previous wedding whilst planning ours and every now and then I would suggest something which he vehemently didn't want, I took a while to realise it was because of similarities to the last time. However, similarly to the post, he said that he had hardly been involved in the planning of his first wedding, which made him extra keen to be there making decisions this time.

    I think that knowing the potential pitfalls of marriage and still being able to commit yourself to someone else must take courage so I applaud the people, my husband included, who have been brave enough to do this.

    And you know what, on our wedding day his previous wedding didn't even cross my mind!

  6. Posted February 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    This is such a sane and brilliant post. It's good to be reminded that the past is not as important as the present, and the future.

    Also I just love your writing.

    K x

  7. Posted February 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    As someone who's been with their husband since high school I take for granted that the only history we have is together. This has made me realise how much more difficult our wedding planning could have been with things like ex-wives hanging over you. I'm glad your husband made it easier for you by planning it together.

    Baby Wife this is a great post and it sounds like you dealt with the issue really courageously. Everyone has a few tears sometimes! :)


  8. Posted February 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Liz – I agree on the courage it takes to commit to another after a failed marriage, particularly if they have been badly burned the first time round. In fact, I think it shows just how much they feel for us that they are willing to 'take the risk' again.

    Thank you for all your comments, we are so lucky to have this community to be able to speak freely


  9. Posted February 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Well-written, fascinating and an issue I'd never really thought about before.

  10. Posted February 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    This has really made me think. I too will be a 'second wife' and it hadn't occurred to me that my fiance might have sensitivities from his first wedding. I'm going to sit down tonight and talk to him about it and make sure that he's comfortable with everything.

    PS And my mother-in-law is wont to still speak fondly of the ex. Even though the ex behaved abominably to her son and didn't like her parents-in-law or bother to see them. There's even a photo on their wall. And we've been together 17 years!

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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