“I had offered to help my then-boyfriend unpack boxes for his new home. Knowing I was still sensitive to items from the life he had before me, I offered to unpack the living room, confident it was a safe place to start. I sorted children’s movies and adult movies into two separate baskets for storage…when I came across something which stopped me in my tracks. ‘Oh gosh, it’s THE VIDEO.’ The video from my husband’s first wedding.
The image on the DVD case featured a much-too-young but clearly joyful couple. I immediately felt sick to my stomach, and the tears were so forceful I wasn’t sure I could stop them. I rushed back to the master bedroom where Kevin was working to set-up his bed and said, ‘Be back, I need to run to the store.’
Once I was safely inside my car, I let it all out. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a good cry. I knew he was married before me, of course I knew. But I hadn’t been faced with such a direct representation of it before.
It was in that moment I really began to mourn the loss of the life I thought I’d live. The romance I dreamed of my entire life. The family where I couldn’t wait to be Mom. The fairy tale.
Even when I wasn’t facing such stark reminders of the life he had before me, I began to feel extremely insecure. Helping him raise his little girl he had with his first wife, I often compared myself to his ex. ‘Am I as pretty as she is? Am I as good of a cook as she is? Does he love me as much as he loved her? If he had a choice, would he choose me? Why couldn’t I have been first?’
These thoughts plagued me. I couldn’t escape them. Later, we got engaged, and I was madly in love, but I still wondered if we would make it to the altar. Could I move past these insecurities and become confident in my place as Kevin’s second wife?
After a little soul searching and a lot of time, it began to click. As distraught as Kevin was after his divorce, he wouldn’t choose to marry me and potentially set himself up for another heartbreak if I wasn’t worth it. If I wasn’t his first choice. I know this from the way he treats me, the way he looks at me, and the countless times he says, ‘I love you.’
Furthermore, I have a special role to play in his life his ex-wife couldn’t fill. I get to be his second (and forever!) wife, and I get to be a stepmom to his daughter. His ex isn’t able to fill the same role, and I found a lot of comfort in that fact. Previously, I was hung up on how I couldn’t fill her role, but now I get to fill my own role. And it’s a great one.
And finally, I realized the man I married isn’t the same person she married. He was so young and naive; he had no idea what it meant to be a husband. But the man I married? Not only does he know what it means to be a husband, but he’s an incredible father to boot. He has lived and learned from his first marriage, and he’s an unmatched partner.
Given the choice, I’d pick the man I got to marry, even if it meant he came with an ex-wife and a daughter. Those experiences shaped him into the partner of my dreams, and I’ve learned to be thankful for that fact instead of resentful of it.
Last week, when I was going through our safe grabbing passports for an upcoming trip, I came across my stepdaughter’s birth certificate with her parents’ names on it. Years ago, this would have triggered a round of insecure thoughts. ‘Will it be as special when we have a child together?’ I hate I missed out on that ‘first’ with him. ‘Will he love our baby as much as he loves theirs? Will he compare my pregnancy to hers? Will my stepdaughter love our baby as much as she loves her maternal sister?’
Instead, when I saw the birth certificate with my stepdaughter’s parents’ names on it, I smiled. I’m thankful for the family I get to be part of, and I’m thankful for the experiences my husband had before he met me, because they shaped him into someone I’m compatible with forever. I look forward to growing this blended family in the future.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kristen Skiles of Texas. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more beautiful stories about blended families here:
‘My ex-husband married my best friend,’ she tells everyone. We’ve given ‘Sister Wives’ a whole new meaning.’: Wife and ex-wife become best friends after years of fighting, successfully co-parent blended family
‘Did she want another woman in her life? I waited to meet my stepdaughter for the very first time. My heart pounded as she stepped in the car.’ Woman explains there’s ‘nothing natural about a blended family’
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