My ex-husband has remarried. It wasn’t a surprise, despite the short engagement which began only earlier this year. In fact, I called it over two years ago. It was when I met his now new wife for the first time after they had been dating for six months, as per our parental plan. I know TJ’s dad very well and the way he felt for her was undeniably plain to see. It was nice. Their future was predictable, a safe bet, bound to happen. So, now I am in the First Wives Club.
Their special day went ahead in a very low-key and true 2020 style recently. Even Covid wouldn’t stop them from getting hitched. And, actually, that’s all fine with me. There’s no jealousy, maybe only a hint of bitterness and a helping of happiness for them both. But, it still all felt undeniably weird, unsettling and suitably final.
This isn’t because of my ex, really. I left him after all. But the thought of the three of them strolling back down the aisle after saying the ‘I do’s’ in a very Three Men and a Little Lady fashion has been haunting me for a good while. I, of course, wasn’t invited to the wedding so whatever the reality looked like remains somewhat unknown.
What I do know though is that they have formed a new family. A family which contains my son, TJ. That little man who now has a Stepmother – a word he has frequently said in my presence lately, totally unaware of the pain it inflicts on me. He will understand when he’s older. She’s a nice girl, I have nothing but positive thoughts about the benefits she will bring to TJ’s life – as well as the life of TJ’s dad. I am (almost) over the pain of seeing someone else parent my child. It’s been going on for long enough by now for it to not really sting as much as it used to. But, that loaded word – Stepmother – still just rubs some salt in a healing wound.
Their marriage has oddly enough given me closure. The last few years have been very eventful for TJ’s dad and now I think this is the last thing that they can do which will have an obvious and unpleasant impact on me. The guilt I felt when I decided to call time on our marriage and we finally moved out of our former home three years ago to the day has gone. It’s closed the book on that chapter of life in one beautiful and legally binding swoop. So, it helps.
The First Wife
There was that 90’s film The First Wives Club where Goldie Hawn et al set out to seek revenge on their husbands who left them for younger models. It’s a pretty terrible and rather dated concept. I am not going to go that far for several reasons.
But, the film was onto something. Being the other side of a marriage does grant you membership to a new group. A group which is far from the portrayal in that film. We’re not full of negative emotions for the people who have gone after us – well, I am not anyway. Many of us may feel the exact opposite.
Maybe, in fact, it’s a group of strong women who have decided that settling isn’t for them. It’s a community of girls who know that you don’t have to live with your mistakes. It’s a troop of fearless females who wanted more and, in many cases, have gone out and found it.
I spent the day of their wedding with my boyfriend drinking prosecco (among other things), playing loosely wedding-related games, eating all of the food in a pub and watching old films. It was ideal. I arrived at his house on the verge of tears after TJ had been collected by his dad. Within moments (and before the first bottle of booze was cracked open) I was smiling from ear to ear. The surprises he had planned, the thought behind his efforts and the gorgeous way he hit the nail on the head of what I needed right then was the best declaration of love that I could have wanted or hoped for.
So, marriage is for people who are in love right? You meet someone and you get married. That’s the natural order of events isn’t it? Well, it doesn’t have to be. You can be committed, focussed and only into that one person without needing a rock on your finger to prove it. Admittedly, I have moments of weakness when I know a bit of me isn’t as anti-marriage as the rest is. Sometimes, I quite fancy the idea of something small, private and intimate which I could almost get away with wearing jeans for. But, I know it’s not essential. Far from it.
To the next step
My marriage was beyond car crash. TJ aside, nothing good came from it and it robbed me of years of my life that I will never get back. A lot of mistakes were made, time was wasted and I was unhappy. A lot. But, marriages aren’t all that way. I hope for everyone’s sake TJ’s dad’s second marriage works out better for him than the first one did. TJ definitely deserves that in his life. When our marriage ended, I wanted better futures for us all – and we’ve all got them now, in their differing but equally devoted ways.