Struggling with my own demons

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-16-2003
Struggling with my own demons
Mon, 06-16-2003 - 5:47pm

I am currently in a relationship with an older man, and he has been married and divorced before. about 3 years ago. when i first met him, i was aware of this and i decided that maybe i was strong enough to accept and love someone who had started a life with someone in the past. i admit that i am a very jealous person at times but over the months, i have learned to deal with it to a moderate degree. initially it would bother me alot, when we would attend his friends weddings or anything would remind me of her or their wedding, i would have to excuse myself to go to the bathroom because i did not want to cry in front of him and his friends and family. i feel as if no one understands how much it hurts me to be with someone like him and they are insensitive to my feelings. they could be more considerate and not bring up her name or remind me of her. maybe i am younger and its harder for me to accept because i should be with someone my age and who was not married before. it hurts me alot for some reason to think about the fact that this person that I love so much has had a wife before. i just feel like i am always going to be second in his life and everyone will always see me as the replacement. i just never feel that i am good enough or as good as her. and i know that when we do get married, it will bother me alot because the vows that he shares with me will be meaningless because he vowed to same with someone else and look where that ended up. i feel as if i am going mad these days thinking about it and i just want to pain to stop. i wish i could just leave. i wish i didnt love him as much as i do so that i can start over again. i just keep thinking about his life with her. did he love her as much as he loved me? how did he treat her? was he really happy with her? is he happier with me? am i more special to him in his eyes? is it better this time around or am i simply a replacement? i also feel as if his parents do not truly accept me. they still keep her pictures around and their wedding album. it upsets me alot to go over their house and be reminded of his past. i hate when his parents friends think that i am her and call me her name by mistake. i guess maybe i am too competitive. he had promised to love this person in the presence of God for life, he had started a life with her and he had chose her to be his life partner because he loved her so much. they had gotten divorced because they simply grew apart and she wanted different things in life, she no longer wanted a family but a career was more important to her and she moved back to her country. of course he was heartbroken and blamed himself for being inadequate and screwing up his marriage. after some time, he has moved on and that was when he met me. we have been together for about 2 years and i know he loves me dearly and he is very good to me. i also know that he wants to marry me in the near future. but i am worried that these demons will still come to haunt me in the years to come. what if one day my children stumble upon his old wedding album at their grandma's place? how will they feel that daddy had another wife before? i would be devastated. i cannot change or hide from the fact. i just dont know what to do anymore. please help me. i feel as if all this thinking is driving me crazy. and it is driving him crazy because it frustrates him that he cannot help me change his past and he has to see me this way. he gets upset at himself for being a failure in life and he says its not fair to him that he should have to be punished for life. he thinks that no matter who he is with in the future, they will all have a a hard time accepting it. sometimes i think he will be better off with someone else who is more understanding. but its also not fair to me. i deserve a husband and a love that is sacred and special too. i dont deserve to be a second wife to anyone. i deserve to be the most loved in my partners eyes because no one can compare to him in my eyes. i just wish i was his first wife. thank you for listening and i would appreciate any thoughts you had on this to help me overcome this. i feel as if no one understand and can help me through this.
Avatar for northwestwanderer
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 06-16-2003 - 8:27pm
I don't understand. If you feel that strongly about not being married to a man who's been married before, why are you still with this guy???

His past and his marriage are part of *who he is*. You either need to accept that, or break up with him.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2003
Tue, 06-17-2003 - 8:31am
Don't you have a past? Have you ever dated, lived with or had a relationship with anyone before or is this guy your first? What if he took offense at how you'd lived your life before you met him?

Fact is, you will never be his first wife. He had someone before you, but that's over and now he's chosen to spend the rest of his life with you. Isn't that enough? How can you expect him to erase his entire past because you're uncomfortable knowing he had a life before he met you? How can you expect his family to instantly forget their former daughter-in-law just because you come into the picture. She does, afterall, have a certain amount of history with them that you haven't formed yet. If you hang around long enough, you too will gain history with them.

You would be devastated if your children found his old wedding album? Why in the world would that matter? I was a product of my mother's second marriage. I knew she'd been married before she met my father. My first husband was a divorcee and our child grew up knowing that. There should be no secrets in a family. Divorce has no stigma attached to it anymore. 50% of first marriages fail these days, so it's certainly nothing out of the ordinary.

If you feel you don't deserve to be a "second wife", don't be one. You can't change anyone's past, so if you can't live with it you need to find someone who's past doesn't make you feel so unhappy.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Tue, 06-17-2003 - 9:58am
Are you looking for an excuse to break up with him? You knew about his past when you met him. All the things that we do and experience in life mold us into the person that we are. Why are you jealous of his first wife? He's not with her, he has chosen you. I'm sure he meant every word of his vows with her. You have to understand that sometimes people just grow apart. If you decide to marry him you will have your own vows, write your own so that you know they are different from the ones with her. He has a past and memories with his ex-wife. He and his family are not going to forget that. You have to form your own memories with him and his family. They are not going to accept you until you can accept everything about your bf.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 06-18-2003 - 9:55pm
Perhaps I can offer some words of wisdom because I've been where you are now.

I'm engaged to a man who is exactly what I've been looking for in a guy, except for the fact that he was married for 10 years to a woman he thought would mature as they got older and who brought two girls into this world thinking that would help his marriage. He stayed married for 5 years longer than he should have because he refused to give up on his vows to stay married no matter what. Unfortunately, after he realized the kids wasn't enough to get her to stay interested in the marriage and she had already started a relationship with another guy, he figured three is a crowd and filed for divorce. He is such a wonderful father and devoted so much of his time and of himself to his children.

Fast forward a few years and hear I am. I never pictured myself falling in love and caring about a man who had a previous 'married with children' history. It was something that I never really sought. I think I became open to it when my aunt was thinking of hooking me up with a recently widowed young guy who also had two young daughters. She felt that becoming an instant mother might be too much for me, so she never pursued the meeting. But I was instantly attracted to my fiance and it wasn't until right before our first date that he told me he was divorced with two kids. Shock is the least of my reactions. I was thinking more of "what in God's name am I thinking" than "that's no big deal."

Truth is that it is a big deal to me that I am not his 'first' for everything. It hurts to know that he loved someone else as much as he loves me now. It's frustrating to see him be a parent while I don't have any experience being a parent. It's upsetting to know that he is 11 1/2 years older than myself and will die before I do.

But how did/do I deal with all of these thoughts? Firstly, you have to know what you are capable of handling. I can handle an ex-wife. I can handle other people's kids. I can handle my own independence. And I can handle the level of my committment. What I do know is that I can make the differences and changes between myself and his first wife. It helps that we look nothing alike and that we come from completely different backgrounds. But that helps. See, I prefer to see it as though he made a mistake the first time and that I am what he should have waited for from the beginning. He had his moment of mis-guidedness, but that he had to learn from his mistake in order to know how not to make it again.

I made sure from the very beginning that he knew I wanted to be very different from his ex-wife. In as many regards as possible. She gave him an ultimatum to marry her and I vowed I would do the complete opposite. If she was selfish/being petty etc. then I would be the bigger person and do the opposite. In all honesty, I grilled my fiance for as much information about her as I could stomach. If I wanted to know what he did in certain situations with her, then I would ask. So, I could do it differently. I can't tell you how many things I have made it a point to be different from her on. Even things like sex/intimacy, arguing, habits, food, etc. If I could change something just to be different, then I did it. If some things are too ingrained in me and it's something minor, then I didn't care.

Then, I made sure that I got my fiance's help by telling him when I felt I was in competition with her and that I needed him to remind me why he thinks I am 'the one.' He has told me that he doesn't plan on divorcing again, and that he wouldn't have asked me to marry him if he didn't think that I planned on staying for the long haul. Time heals a lot of wounds, both imagined and real. You need to start thinking of the differences between the two of you and that you shouldn't be comparing yourself to her. She quit and you didn't. That is a very powerful difference. Focus on that. It will help you to keep going when things get tough.

As for accepting his past. I just reminded myself that I also had a past and even though it didn't involve marriage and kids... it did involve a lot of love and broken hearts. I know myself well enough to know that I will become very jealous if I feel I have missed out on some kind of experience. I broke up with my first serious boyfriend, after 3 1/2 years together because he was my first sexual partner and I couldn't go through life wondering what it would be like to be with another man. I knew that missing out on that kind of an experience would have driven me to break up with him eventually. And it's probably the exact same thing that his first wife did. Be happy that she trained him for you and has turned him into a mature man. With a younger, single guy, you would have to expend A LOT of energy into training him to be a good father, good husband, good provider and wait until he matures. I knew I didn't want to mother my husband as well as my kids.

The two things I told myself I would have to do in order to accept my fiance's past and situation was to HAVE FAITH and NOT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. It sounds like you know you want a more mature man to settle down with but that you haven't been able to mature yourself fast enough to accept what he can offer you. My advice to you is to take your time, don't worry about when/if he will be proposing (because chances are he won't if he senses your hesitance) and work on your demons. These demons will surface regardless of who you are with if you are being asked to do something different than what you had grown up believing. You need to change your attitude towards marriage and how you fit into the whole scheme of things.

Don't be afraid to embrace his past and make friends with his parents. Ask them questions about her. Show that you are willing to learn more about his past and guess what will happen? The initiative on your part will help you to accept that part of him.

Good luck and keep us posted. You are doing the right thing by facing your demons. Trust me when I say that they will keep rearing their head but you need to be able to control them. That is key.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2003
Mon, 07-07-2003 - 4:09pm
quote ' i just wish i was his first wife.' quote

It sounds like you are better off being someone else's 'first wife'. There are many, many men who are single. Find that man or you are never going to be happy.