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Single +1

Sarah Fowler

The new year is here and with it comes new surprises. For me, that includes a new relationship. And talk about surprises, this one is one that I least expected. It’s not a new man, a new puppy or even a new love affair with a painful yet gorgeous pair of high heels. Out of the blue, I have started a new relationship with…wait for it…my ex-husband’s new wife. Yes. Really. A quasi friendship has developed between she and I and, horror of horrors, I find myself actually beginning to like the woman. Now who saw that one coming?

I’ll be the first to admit it, this new found friendship caught me completely off-guard. Up until two weeks ago, this woman and I were sworn mortal enemies. Nothing too extreme, just your typical ex-wife vs. new wife type of drama. She belittled me, I patronized her, it seemed to work out well for everyone involved. We rarely dealt with each other and I think I can speak for us both when I say it suited us both just fine. I had this image of her in my head…an image that she fed into when our limited conversations quickly turned into a competition of who could be the bigger b*itch. And let me tell you, that competition was a close one. But looking back on it now, I have no idea why either one us felt compelled to act that way. Is it that we were actually threatened by each other? Or threatened by what we represented? I was living breathing proof that her new husband had had a life before her, a life that involved another woman and a baby. She was the physical embodiment of where I thought my life would be one day. I had my ex-husband’s past and she had his future. No wonder the present was so hard to deal with. For both of us.

Ex-wife vs. new wife is a battle that has been raging for centuries. As long as people keep getting divorced, there will be women out there fighting over a man. Even in the cases where there is no love lost between the formerly married couple, the ex-wife is bound to view the new wife as invading her territory. First wives, or “starter wives” as we have been called, pour our blood, sweat and tears into a hopelessly failing marriage with little to no results. Then all of a sudden, this new woman comes along and presto chango, he’s a happily married man. Excuse me, but I call foul. Speaking from experience, my marriage was a helluva ride. We argued, it was bitterly lonely and there were nights where I didn’t know where my husband was. Now, he seems to be freaking Ward Cleaver. He comes home every night, plays the role of the doting father and by his wife’s account is “a better man every day.” That’s great and all but I think I’m going to be ill. The man that I literally had to beg to come home at night is now hosting BBQs with the neighbors, going to church regularly and stays home with their daughter while she goes shopping. Excuse me but I call serious bullsh*t. No wonder ex-wives don’t get along with new wives. It’s like our marriage was a practice round; I trained him on what not to do and now she’s reaping the benefits of my hard work. As unattractive as it is, there is admittedly a feeling of bitterness towards this woman and to be honest, it’s undeserved. The trick is learning how to form a relationship with her after years of harsh words, anger and hurt. Because if we’re down right honest, it wasn’t her we were mad at it in the first place.

Oftentimes when men cheat, women blame the “other woman” yet beg the man to stay. It’s the same thing in a divorce. My ex-husband and I had a nasty divorce and while I certainly didn’t want him, I didn’t want her to have him either. It’s not that I still loved him or harbored feelings of us getting back together. I even wanted him to be happy. Just not happier than me. And it stung a bit thinking that he could move on from our marriage so quickly and here I am, nearly five years later, still alone. When I sat down at my computer I wanted to write about my relationship with her, but in writing this I’ve found that I have finally gotten over my relationship with him. And in some way, I have her to thank for that. I look at her and I can see just how desperately in love with him she is. She reminds me so much of myself in that way that I can’t help but feel a bond with her. Out of all the people in the world, she is the one woman who knows exactly how it feels to be in love with that man-the good, the bad and everything in between. And she gets it. She gets why I stayed and eventually, why I left. I’ve had it wrong this entire time. Instead of spending so much energy disliking some woman that I barely even knew, I could have spent these past three years getting to know a woman who could turn out to be my closest ally.

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3 comments

  1. Katie

    As a “second wife,” I can assure you that the new wife is not reaping the benefits of “your hard work.”
    She is reaping the benefits of her own hard work and that of her husband.
    Sometimes, marriages fail, and that’s very sad. In my experience, they fail because BOTH people in the marriage have issues.
    After a failed marriage, a mature person will take a good hard look at themselves and be honest about what they need to change in their lives…taking responsibility for your own shortcomings and for your half of the failed marriage is the only way to move on healthily.
    It ALWAYS takes two. No matter what the reason for your marriage’s failure, you are at fault for half of it.
    It sounds like your ex may have faced up to his shortcomings and done something about it…and it may be, that his new wife knows how to bring out the best in him because she has learned how to deal with her own shortcomings as well…whatever the reason, from your description, they appear to be happy, on their own merit.
    Good for them.
    I do hope that you face your own shortcomings and failures as well…once I did that for myself (I even sought counseling), I was finally able to end my string of failed relationships and settle down for the rest of my life with a “discarded ex husband” of my own…I like fixer-uppers and so does he…we’re very happy.

  2. Ashlee

    Who knows why ex and current wives feel such animosity towards one another. You could be right in your assessment, but as a reader of your column, maybe it’s something different. Obviously you and your exhusband did not have an ideal marriage. Or much of a “life before her.” Based on these writings, you got married because you got pregnant and hoped love would follow. In cases like that, it rarely does. Especially a teen pregnancy. Don’t try to speak for your new friend. But I do commend you for opening the door and letting go of whatever feelings you had to her and the ex. I know I could never be friends with my husband’s new wife. She is truly a B-word to the max. But I don’t have to be…there are no children involved.
    Good luck!

  3. Candy

    You have written another article about my life again……how do you do it? I wanna e-mail this to the “new” wife. I’ve been divorced for over 9 years. I think they have been married 4 or 5……and this article are words that I have said myself, SO many times! It’s nice to know that it’s not just me. Keep up the good writing! Love it!

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