When I got divorced, I wondered a lot about what it would be like for the guys that I would date. How would they respond to the fact that I had been married before? Would they be ok with it? Would they be uncomfortable or insecure? Would they be comfortable in my home, the home that I had lived for many years with my former spouse? Would they want to live here? Would they want me to sell my silverware, throw out things that I loved, or replace my furniture?
Danny thought the same thing when he realized his marriage was ending.
We both owned condos in Boston and New York. And 2008/2009 wasn’t exactly a good time to sell.
Well, I dated several really great guys. And I think a lot of them were a little uncomfortable with my life here in Brooklyn – since it previously involved another husband.
One guy had suggested that if we got married, he would probably want to sell my place immediately and move to Manhattan – to just have a fresh start somewhere together. Another guy was really quite uncomfortable even spending time in my apartment or with my Brooklyn friends, as if the ghost of my previous husband was lurking here & there. 🙂
Well, I really loved my friends in Brooklyn. And I really loved my ward (congregation) here in Brooklyn. And so while I could see that someone might be uncomfortable here, part of me also thought it was silly for someone to have to ease those concerns by walking away from a great neighborhood, selling a home during a down market, selling perfectly good furniture and belongings, only to have to buy it all again.
And then I met Danny. This guy – oh man – he came to my apartment and just fell in love with the place. He loved everything here and just felt at home here right away (it also looked very much like his condo in Boston, which was a fun surprise.) I took him to meet friends and he just fell in love with them – never once held back – but just reached out to them with friendship. I took him around my neighborhood to all my favorite places. I took him to church and he just was thrilled to be there, thrilled to meet all these people that I had grown to love so much over the years. Never once did he think, “Crap. Her ex-husband used to live here. I don’t belong here.”
And, it turns out that I felt the same way when visiting Danny in Boston (we traded off weekends while we dated.) I immediately just had love for all his Boston friends. They had been so good to him during his time of need and so I just felt so grateful for them. I loved being in Danny’s home. It was just a place where he resided and that meant that it was full of the good energy that he exuded. It didn’t bother me that he once shared that furniture with his wife. It didn’t bother me that he once sat at the kitchen table and shared a meal with her. I would have moved to Boston in a heartbeat if that was going to be best for us. But early on, Danny thought it would be great to move to New York. One day while at Pier Park, near his home in East Boston, he just said, “You know I’m moving to New York when we get married, right?” And that was that. Of course I squealed and jumped and smiled and said, “Really? 🙂 🙂 :).” I just couldn’t believe that he was always so open and transparent about his intentions for us and his intention to be my husband. (Yes, I’m getting distracted here as that’s really a part of our ‘Love Story‘. 🙂 Do you guys miss it? I’ll admit, I do. Haha. We have more letters coming very soon. Stay tuned. 🙂
Alright, here are a few tips I can pass along for anyone who may be the “second spouse” or may be dating someone who has been married before…because while I think it’s very common and normal for people to be uncomfortable with their partner’s former marriages, I think there’s a better way to live. 🙂 I’ve felt what that empowerment feels like and I can tell you that it’s totally worth shooting for. It will lead to more peace with yourself and your relationship, more love for your partner’s life, and hopefully it will even save some good looking dishes, a comfy couch, some handy Christmas decorations, a lifetime music collection, good bottles of cologne or perfume, great recipes and meals from past home cooking, and visits to your favorite restaurants and places.
1. Try to feel grateful for the past experiences your partner has had. Hopefully he/she has been able to learn a lot from the experience and has become a better person because of it. And if you do admire your partner’s qualities (which I hope you do! :), realize that those qualities are usually due to all their combined experiences, good and bad.
2. Realize that feelings of jealousy, fear, or insecurity only harm your current relationship. They literally clog the flow of love, openness, goodness and trust between the two of you. If you recognize some of those insecurities in yourself, it’s totally worth it to address it and figure out why. (Do you fear your partner compares you to his former spouse? Do you feel inadequate? Do you worry that your partner still has romantic feelings for his/her former spouse? Do you feel insecure about your partner’s feelings towards you? Do you not trust your partner?) Use this situation as an opportunity to address any underlying insecurities or fears or to face important conversations with your partner or with a counselor. I think it’s so important to address this stuff if you want to have a healthy and stable relationship.
3. It’s totally ok to replace items for your new home together, but…think about why you want to replace the items. Is it because you have a different aesthetic? Or is it out of jealousy or insecurity on your part? It’s kinda crazy how little things like this can pin us in a corner and we can’t deny that something deep down doesn’t feel right. But – I say be glad for those uncomfortable feelings….as they remind us to dig a little deeper to see if we can resolve things.
What do you guys think? Do you have a different perspective on this? Or do you have any other tips to add for someone in this situation?
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