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Why I’m happy to be my husband’s second wife

He learned a lot in his first marriage. Now I get to reap the benefits. 

For the most part, everyone prefers to be a first to someone. A first kiss. A first love. But not me. I prefer being someone’s second, and that someone is my husband.

I’m my husband’s second wife. It’s my first time being a wife and a parent, but it’s his second time at both.

We will have been together nine years this July, married for seven. We have two beautiful children together, a 5-year-old daughter and a 7-month-old son. While no marriage is perfect, I think ours has unique benefits. My husband can take everything that didn’t work out from his first marriage and use it as a “what not to do” list. He’s a different person than he was over 25 years ago when he got married and had a child the first time around. And the ways in which he’s changed now pay off in our marriage. 

Forget being first. Why it's better to be the second wife
My husband and I have two children together.Courtesy Caroline Chirichella

For starters, my husband is admittedly more patient now. In his first marriage, he was a very young husband with a new baby and a new wife. Some of the circumstances were less than ideal — a surprise pregnancy and the pressure to get married — which was a challenge. Today my husband is almost 60. With age comes understanding. He has learned the importance of  patience — with your spouse, with your child and with yourself. In a marriage, you need what can sometimes feel like unlimited patience. While his patience may not be unending, he has a lot of it — especially when it comes to our overly energetic 5-year-old daughter. She’s a firecracker, but when she is going crazy and I see how gentle, calm and patient my husband is with her, it makes me feel happy — and relieved. Having a husband with more patience takes the pressure off me to always have to be the patient one, especially with our children.

When my husband first became a father, he was barely 25 years old. He wasn’t prepared for the weight of family life and everything that comes with that — putting other people first, being more flexible, being a dad 24/7. He figured it out along the way, though, and today he puts our children before everything. Watching my husband cuddle with our 7-month-old in bed, while our daughter reads a book next to them, makes my heart explode. 

He’s also more confident in this season of life. My husband always felt like the black sheep of his family, especially as an artist. He’s a painter and would often go through periods of intense focus where he would close himself off to the world to concentrate. His family never understood that. While he doesn’t do that very often now, if he does, I understand him. He’s proven himself. He’s worked hard. He knows his worth and who he is. And he doesn’t need to prove any of that to anyone, the way he felt he had to when he was younger. He’s more confident and he is more comfortable with himself as a husband, father and artist. When people are insecure, that can lead to trust issues. But his confidence makes our bond stronger. It’s much easier to be married to someone who is secure and comfortable in their skin. 

Of course, it’s not always perfect. But even when we’re not seeing eye to eye, my husband can handle it better than he could years ago. 

Forget being first. Why it's better to be the second wife
We've been married for seven years.Courtesy Caroline Chirichella

When I was younger, my mom would tell me it’s important to know how to argue. I used to think that sounded ridiculous, but I now know exactly what she meant. My husband admits that when he was young, he would often raise his voice in the heat of the moment. Now, he knows how to listen and see my point of view, not just his own. He knows that there are two sides to every argument and that it is important to respect each other. He thought he was always right in his first marriage. Right about everything when it came to parenting and life in general. But he’s learned that it’s actually OK to be wrong and more importantly, to admit that maybe you’ve made a mistake. He knows he’s not always right — and that’s OK. Even when we fight, I know our mutual goal is to come to a conclusion, together.

I know that some of my husband’s maturity is a natural part of getting older — he had 20 years between marriages — but I also believe he wouldn’t have learned so much without the experience he got in his first marriage. Today my husband speaks so positively about his ex-wife, especially about how she is as a mother, and I really respect that, and see it as another sign of how he’s grown. I feel very lucky to be his second wife, and to have met him after he got out of his system a lot of the mistakes we make when we’re young.

As it turns out, sometimes being second is the real win.