It felt like my then-boyfriend (now-husband) lived an entire life before he met me. He had joined the military, married, had a daughter, made four cross-country moves, graduated from college, and divorced. I was learning his story and how it had shaped him into the man I was falling in love with. And every chapter included her. She witnessed so much of his life, and she got to be there with him as he grew up. As much as it embarrasses me to admit it, I was jealous of the ex.
When it’s your first marriage but your partner has been married before, it can feel like a punch to the gut to realize that so many of their firsts were shared together. Things that are new and exciting for you are not new to your partner. And for that reason, it’s common to feel jealous of the ex and the life they shared before you came into the picture.
I found myself wondering if this second chance was as exciting for him without the novelty. I questioned if he was secretly pining for his ex. Or worse, wondering if he’d ever love me as much as he loved her.
If you find yourself heading down this spiral of second wife insecurities like I did in those early days, here are three things you need to remember to bring you back to reality.
If that’s what your partner wanted, they’d have it.
Let’s get the most direct point out of the way. If your partner wanted their ex or someone more like their ex, they’d be fighting for that relationship, not investing in the relationship with you.
That relationship didn’t work for a reason, and that reason will always boil down to incompatibility. And that’s really great news for you! You get to be the compatible one for your partner.
You get to be the missing piece that the ex wasn’t capable of being.
Your partner is a different person today.
Further, your partner has grown from the breakup and custody negotiation process.
The person you are with is not the same person the ex was with.
Your partner has learned from past experiences and has a much clearer idea of the type of life partner they want now.
You aren’t getting the ex’s leftovers. Even if their pasts were in sync, you are getting a new and improved version of the person the ex once loved who is perfect today for the person you are today.
If you weren’t worth the risk, your partner wouldn’t take it.
We have arrived at perhaps the biggest “Aha!” realization for me. My husband was devastated by his divorce and the loss of the nuclear family he’d dreamed of having.
He would not risk another heartbreak, another financially impactful divorce, or another parental split for my stepdaughter, if I wasn’t worth that risk.
And neither would your partner.
You are everything your significant other is looking for in a life partner. You. Not the ex.
You are the reward worth every risk, so trust your partner when they tell you this is the relationship they want today and forevermore.
Don’t look back at what they shared. Look ahead at the life you get to share; it’s a much brighter future.
I’m feeling soapbox-y, so here’s a bonus tip from one overthinker with second wife syndrome to another: no one else is thinking about their relationship as much as you are.
Your partner isn’t pining after the ex, the ex isn’t reliving every gleeful moment of their marriage.
They worked through their breakup before you came into the picture; this is new to you, and you’re still working through it. That’s okay. But don’t let it consume you if no one else can be bothered to even think about it.
The next time you find yourself spiraling and jealous of the ex and the relationship they shared before you, remind yourself of these three important facts.
You are worthy of this love and happiness, sweet stepmom.
And if you need someone to talk to who understands what you’re struggling with and can give you validation and advice to work through those feelings to become more confident and present in your relationship, fill out the application below to see if stepmom support coaching is a good fit for you!
P.S. Learn about the lessons I learned once I embraced my role as a second wife.