The Second Wives’ Club
As the second wife and stepmother it’s easy to understand how this title might sound like the start of a good summer beach read and maybe one day it will. But not now. Today it’s more like the commentary of a story still being lived out, one told with the hope of encouraging another woman in a similar tale.
When the Weatherman and I first met, he was the divorced father of three girls; two teens and one tween. He says he knew right away.
I however, was convinced, that he wasn’t the one for me.
Six years his junior, with no kids of my own I’d never envisioned myself with a redi-made family.
My vision for marriage was different. It was more traditional and with less complications.
I think God has a field day with “my plans” for “my life”. Suffice it so say, after a long and patient courtship, my heart would eventually change as would my mind.
It was no mystery to me that my husband had been married before, nor the reasons for divorce. In fact, he began attending my church not long after his divorce, and as two of the only singles our age, it seemed everyone was hoping to put us together from the beginning.
By the time we were engaged, I was certain I was going into things eyes wide open. We’d attended pre-marital counseling with our pastor, had talked with a good friend and mentor, as well as the seasoned married couples in our small group.
We were prayed over and encouraged. We were loved on and built up. But, truth be told there was really no one in our church, our circle of friends, or our small group that could share with us about the unique challenges of a second marriage.
However, there was something my spiritual mentor shared with me before our marriage, words at the time that seemed more like a commentary on the obvious.
“You’ll always be the second wife.”
Then I recognized none of the significance of these words; over the years, in the midst of various challenges, the same words almost seem ominous.
And, while a majority of our friends and family had little to offer relating to the unique circumstances of a second marriage they wholeheartedly loved and supported us. However, there were a small few that would refuse to attend our wedding. Their biblical understanding of marriage and divorce differed from ours and did not allow them to celebrate with us.
Even though I tried not to show it, the declined invitation felt like a commentary on our choices.
It wasn’t long into our first year of marriage that I came to quickly understand what it meant to be the second wife.
After we returned from our honeymoon I moved from my home into his and realized (aside from the mattress) I was sharing the exact same room he and his first wife had.
Not even weeks later I would join the annual Dale family week at the lake – and realize his first wife had also been there.
And, just a month or two later I realized the same was true when we visited his parents’ condo on Lake Erie.
She was everywhere first.
She’d done it all before me.
I would always be the second wife.
An Unsettling Reality.
I was no longer Julia Almendarez. I was now Julia Dale; wife to the weatherman and stepmother to three girls.
The introductions were awkward. He’d introduce me as his wife and then there’d be the quizzical look from me to him, to my blond stepdaughters, and back again. In the beginning it took me a minute to realize what was going on, but I caught on quickly. I was a dark brunette with olive skin standing out in contrast to the blond first wife.
I learned to clarify things quickly for their sake and mine.
“Hi, I’m Julia. The second wife.”
It’s a lonely and strange place to be. For all the young, first time brides and grooms there were always several couples to come along side them, to offer the standard wisdom and encouragement. They had a team as well as a roadmap. Marriage the first time around is openly talked about and celebrated in the church.
In the meantime, I was busy reminding people that I was someone new. And, I remember wondering where was the Second Wives’ Club?
Ten years later, my understanding of what it means to be the Second Wife has evolved; it’s experienced attack as well as revision, and in the end feels less like the “Scarlett A” it once did.
What about you? Are you the second wife in your home? Do you have a similar story?
If today’s post resonates with you, would you do me a favor? Would you chime in below? I can’t help but think that my situation is not that unique and that there is an entire world of women that share a similar experience and it would be absolutely wonderful to hear your bits of wisdom. Also, if you’re interested in joining an encouraging, private group, for second wives and stepmothers would you let me know in the comments below.