A Letter to Christian Second Wives
I have a confession. I have a secret. A secret so well hidden that I literally forget about it …constantly: I am a second wife.
My husband was 21 years old when he married his first wife. This isn’t my story to tell, apart from saying that both his priest and my pastor saw that the dissolution of the marriage was biblically justified, and so I won’t get into the details. Plus, this isn’t about him, this is about us. You and me.
I met my husband shortly after his marriage ended and things got serious pretty quickly. It became clear that, despite obvious complications, we could not live without one another. The next year was full of lawyers appointments and a fair share of drama, but most of it was hidden from me. All the while, hubby and I started our life together, getting to know one another, going to church together, and preparing for our future. We were married 3 weeks shy of our 2 year anniversary.
Because so much of this happened before I met him, and because he kept so much of the details from me, I frequently forget that I am a second wife. We were both so young and it really didn’t feel like a reality to me, but to his family and the world around us, I will always be his second wife.
Sometimes that label feels oppressive. I have watched other Christian’s faces when I tell them that my sweet, faithful husband was married before me. I have seen the look of confusion, disappointment even, as they try to collect their thoughts to react with the kindness I have come to expect from my community. And my intense desire to protect and honour him makes me hold back this information until I feel like I can trust someone to not reject me, him, us.
Just because your marriage may not have started the way that others have, doesn’t mean that the Lord is not going to do amazing things through it. And much like our life with our Lord, we are not defined by our past, but by how we choose to follow God’s path and plan for our life every single day.
Your marriage is not only valid, but is extremely valuable to God. It is the same story of redemption we have heard a thousand times before: the Lord has exchanged beauty for ashes. He has made alive what once was dead. He has echoed his incredible story of redemption in our marriages, and we have the opportunity to use them to show God’s glory to the world around us. I often look at my marriage and marvel at the goodness of the Lord. That he took my husbands broken marriage, and turned it into our beautiful partnership that has given me the greatest joy of my life. And along the way we learned so much about ourselves, but we learned more about our God.
My dear second-wife sister, the world may judge us. They probably won’t understand us. The church-ladies may even clutch their pearls. But you are loved. You are seen. You are known by the living God who wants nothing more than to have a relationship with you. And he will use your marriage to find you. You only need to seek him out.
(Also, that picture up there is from our actual wedding day in 2010. Best day of my life!)
I am the very proud mother-in-law of this amazing author, and I feel I need to clarify or perhaps just expand on one statement: our family has never thought of, referred to or introduced this lovely woman as “the second”. She has always been, and always will be the incredible answer to our prayers to heal our broken hearts. She is a gift, an angel, and we were not complete before was sent to us.
Only in darkness can you see the beauty of the stars.
You write beautifully, SJ! My parents told me when I was 25 that they had both previously been married- we had no clue! Funny how that is something people try to hide away. All of our experiences help us to figure out what we really want in life, and it’s so clear that you and your husband are a absolutely head over heals for each each other.