I have only 7 more days until I am officially a decade into my marriage. That’s right. I met and married the man of my dreams 10 years ago. It’s a beautiful story: how we met, our first date, our second date, our wedding six months later. It actually is a very romantic story and I love to tell it. In fact, I plan to tell it next week over here.
But romance aside, our story hasn’t always been puppies and kittens. In fact, I almost said no to our first date. Here’s why.
I met my husband at work. I went to a group lunch on his first day of work and kept wondering what it was about this guy. He was wearing a bright yellow sweater and had a mop of curly hair. Totally not my type. Yet I was captivated by him. We got to know each other as work friends over the next few months and then he decided to quit. That was make or break.
He later revealed to me that my reaction to him telling me he was quitting dictated his next move. If I had said, “Oh really? Well, good luck to you,” that would have been the end of that. But when I showed a look of shock and surprise and “no! you can’t quit!”, I think he realized he was safe to proceed.
We were chatting it up in the hallway and he asked me out on a date. At some point during our conversation, he mentioned his wife (or was it ex-wife?). He told me that he was legally separated and was divorced in every way except the final papers. That felt kind of weird. I had never dated a married or divorced man. I had a bunch of questions pepper through my mind.
Was it okay to date a man that is legally separated since technically he is still married?
It wasn’t like he was working on his marriage. They had been separated for over a year. He clearly did not want to be married to her. So I said yes and we went on our magical first date. But my questions weren’t over. They were just beginning. If you give me an inch, I take a mile.
Why were they separated?
Was he a bad guy? Is that why?
Did they have any kids together?
Was he paying her alimony?
Why wasn’t he divorced yet?
I have to admit that the kids thing would have been a dealbreaker for me. I had never been married. I was still looking for the love of my life. And when I found him, I didn’t want to share him with a woman he would inevitably have a relationship with for the rest of his life.
Some things we got out on the table right away. No kids. No alimony. Once the papers were signed, he was over and done and could walk away with no strings attached. But then my insecurities creeped in.
Was she really his first love?
Would he always long for her?
What did she look like?
How do I compare? Am I as pretty/skinny/funny?
Again, I got plenty of reassurances about how his marriage was and how it ended. It all seemed fair and reasonable to me. Sometimes, marriages don’t work. It’s better to find that out before you have kids. He even fully eliminated every single photo he had of her. Yes. Every. Single. Photo.
I never had to be reminded of the life he once had. But to this day, I have never seen what she looks like. I have to take his word for it when he tells me how much more beautiful I am.
So I snagged this man and married him.
I moved into the house he had shared with her. It was empty. She took all the “stuff” because he really didn’t care about any of it. We made it our own home…slowly. But it was never my home.
We lived there for three years and then built our own house and moved. We bought new furniture. It was truly our house. But we had only been married for 3 years. He had been officially married to her for 4 1/2 years. Mentally, I needed to get past that mark. I needed to feel like I wasn’t “the second marriage.” I needed to feel like the only marriage.
The 4 1/2 year marriage mark came and went and I barely even noticed. I was happier when we made it 5 years in. A milestone. There were ups and downs but we knew we were meant for each other.
In 2006, I announced to my husband that I was pregnant. Once he got over his skepticism of me knowing how to read a pregnancy test, we knew that life would never be the same. And for me, we were able to share something he had never shared with anyone else. We were parents together and that was a bond we would share for the rest of our lives.
Nowadays, I occasionally get mail with her name on it. I have no idea how. They’ve been divorced for 10 years. We’ve been married for 10 years. This is my house. We have lived here for 7 years. She has never lived here. Years ago, it might have made me upset. Now? It simply goes into the recycling pile.
So instead of Wife #2, I like to think I’m Wife 2.0. The new and improved version. As for me? I’m happy with Husband 1.0. And I’m not planning any upgrades anytime soon.