This is my second kick at the cat. My first marriage ended after 16 years. In all honesty, I never thought I would do it again. I had my children. I was happy with my life and career. For once, I was in total control and I liked that. I didn’t have to get someone else’s feedback if I wanted to paint my bedroom a dark eggplant colour. I didn’t have to justify to anyone how I spent my money. And I chose how to raise my own children in my own house. I did date after I was divorced. I enjoyed keeping my dating life and my home life separate. My kids were young teenagers and it was in their best interest to do so too. But sometimes when you least expect it, fate brings someone into your life. When I met my husband, I almost immediately knew that I wanted our two lives to become one. This is a second marriage for both of us and we both brought our own baggage. I quickly realized that there would always be the shadows of the first marriages looming over us. We both had children with our previous spouses. This meant that the exes, for the forseeable future, would be a part of both our lives. As well, we had to accept and nurture our new relationships as step-parents. Whoa! It seemed like there was so much more to deal with in a second marriage. And there is but the one thing at the core will always be your relationship with your spouse. I am not a counselor or therapist. I only know that this is the best relationship I have had in my entire life. Is it because I am older? Wiser? Partly so, but also because I can see the mistakes I made the first time around and I am determined not to make them again. So here is my unsolicited advice to all of you two-timers out there!
Be friends with benefits
Treat your spouse like a good friend.
- Don’t discuss behind their back what you haven’t already to their face.
- Be present and supportive in good times and bad.
- Make time for each other.
- Make them feel good about themselves and happy to be around you.
And above all, be able to laugh, together, at each other, and at life in general. Be a great friend to your spouse and the benefits will be plenty.
Don’t keep a scorecard
Keeping tally of who does what to whom is the fastest way to end marriage #2. If you are keeping score, it gives the impression that you think you are a better person than your spouse. You’re treating marriage like a competition. Only difference is nobody will win.
Don’t use the past as a weapon
No matter what’s happened in the past, if you are together now, the past must stay there. Nobody knows this rule better than I do. My husband has bipolar. There have been times when he has gone manic. Unless we are discussing his illness in a constructive manner, I never bring up what he has done in the past. We could never move forward if I was always looking back.
Spend time beside each other
You don’t have to enjoy all the same activities. And you don’t have to do everything together. Sometimes it’s just nice to do those things beside each other, like reading while they’re watching TV, or having a drink in the club house while they’re playing golf, again.
Really listen. Know what’s important to them, what they are thinking and what their dreams are. Share them and explore them together. That is how you will grow as a couple. I joke about my marriage a lot (especially on this blog) but always in jest with no malice. Mainly because we both like to laugh. Our friendship truly is the foundation. This year we will celebrate 7 years married and 10 years together. We have a great, solid relationship and very seldom do we argue. I would say we are both winning this time around. How about you? Is your second time going to be your last?