Second Wife, Second Life

Someone called me a second wife recently. I am not the offendable type and I took no notice of it until my husband later casually mentioned something about his first marriage. “It is true,” I thought, “I am the second.” The second wife, the second marriage, the second chance at death do us part. 

There was another wife, another human, another once best friend and I have never known her. She is not a part of our lives or our marriage, but she shaped the man I now call husband, for a third of his life. I have her to thank, in part, for the man he has become, the good and the bad.

I never dreamed of being a second wife, or of marrying a man who had been divorced. At twenty, twenty-one, twenty-six, the child of a crumbling marriage and then a messy divorce, I imagined marrying a man unsullied by the thing I hated more than anything: divorce. 

Yet in this marriage, I have never thought of myself as the second of anything. I am fully his wife, his only wife today, his one wife. 

Divorce is not usually the best choice and should never be the first choice, but sometimes the choice has been stripped from you and you’re the only one willing and working. When I was simply the child of divorce I could not understand it. I looked to both of my parents and the litany of faults fell equally on both sides. “If only he…” I thought. “If only she…” I reasoned. There was no sense to be made of their selfish choices to stop loving, stop respecting, stop listening. 

I suppose there is such a thing as no-fault divorce, but I have never seen one. 

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