couples

What it's like being a first time wife married to a second time husband.

Many moons ago I met a divorced father of two. I was young and in love and incredibly naive. In my mind, I didn’t think his previous marriage would affect us at all. I’d never heard the statistic that the divorce rate among the remarried is much higher.

We happily believed that we’d learnt from our past relationships and our marriage would be better because we knew better. He hated arguing and I didn’t like being told what to do. We communicated these needs to each other and looked forward to a perfect and brilliant future together.

Except it didn’t quite work out that way. We were presented with many unique challenges that only the remarried face. The best of intentions didn’t save us from any of it. Now, we understand why the divorce rate among second marriages is higher.

This week a report was released showing that men who divorce and remarry are 27% more likely to be on antidepressants. I’d love to be able to dismiss this report, but it’s from a reputable study of more than 200,000 men born between 1952 and 1956. The study has been been published in the academic journal, Social Science and Medicine.

Jo Abi and her family. (Image supplied)
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Any good news to share? Only this. Men who had stayed married and never divorced were less depressed. Professor Scott Montgomery who led the study told The Daily Mail there are several theories explaining these results, everything from difficult relationships with in-laws to children and money.

"Maybe people rush into a second marriage thinking it will be the same as the early, happy years of their first, and run into challenges. Perhaps the grass is not always greener," Montgomery said.

Here's my theory as a second wife.

I've been with my husband for 17 years and we've been married for 12. I can list all the reasons why we've had problems, and it reads like a copy of the studies findings. They are:

  • Family who were loyal to his ex wife;
  • Friends who were loyal to his ex wife;
  • Family and friends who were not loyal to his ex wife but kept mentioning her;
  • Me trying to figure out how to be a step-mum;
  • Baggage from his previous marriage;
  • Financial problems.

While we had our share of problems unique to our relationship, I figure all couples have a combination of problems that are unique to their relationship.

We thought we wouldn't have the same problems we did in our previous relationships. Especially my husband who had married young. Whenever we fought really hard, he'd call me the name of his ex. It was awful and I tried not to take it personally. He came to me after two very tempestuous relationships and I came to him young and inexperienced.

He was in such a difficult position trying to protect me and his kids, as well as facing the pressure of building a new life with me and starting a new family. I was in a horrible place, feeling like I didn't really belong and being constantly made to feel like I was the least important member of the family.

All of those problems affect us less today, but we came so close to breaking up so many times due to these unique pressures. Now, we feel thankful that we made it. I wish I had been more aware of the potential pitfalls because as it unfolded, I was so surprised and shocked.

Looking back though, there is nothing I would change. I love being a step mum, I love my stepsons so much and I love how much my children worship and adore their older brothers. I love the family and friends who supported us and who stayed close to us.

During an African safari the guide shows this future family another example of a blended family in nature. Article continues after the video...

So to all those divorced men and women and second husbands and wives, I'd like to say, you can do it. I believe in you. Yes, it can be hard but it can also be so completely and uniquely special. I look back on the good times and bad times fondly, because they all led to the happy place where my family are today.

Do you think second marriages are harder than first marriages? What has your experience been?

Read Jo Abi's book How to Date a Dad, available through Booktopia and iBooks.

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