Relationship Connection: I have regrets about divorcing and remarrying

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Question

I believed strongly that my first husband was the one I should marry, but after almost two decades of marriage and multiple children, I left him and soon married someone else. We have now been married now for over 20 years.

I love him and care about him, but I cannot say I am in love with him. I find myself asking myself, “Should I stay?” But then I remember the day I pleaded with God to help me get out of this situation and I realized I should love my husband unconditionally. I’m still working on that. I often find myself wishing I were back with my children’s father, who has never remarried.

My current husband and I have no children together, and he has never been what I would call an ideal stepfather. Most of my children don’t really care for him, but he’s a good man. Any advice would be appreciated.

Answer

You didn’t share any details about your first marriage, so I don’t know your reasons for leaving your first husband. Even though you felt strongly you should marry him, you also felt strongly that leaving him was the best thing to do at the time. You now have regrets about that decision, and you’re wondering what to do next. However, you appear to have some answers about what to do in this marriage.

You have serious regrets about leaving your first husband. Only through the lens of mistakes and experiences can we really gain the wisdom needed to make the deeper changes necessary for our growth and happiness. You can’t go back to your first husband and expect everything to pick up where it left off. So let’s turn to this marriage and see how you can turn this decision into an opportunity for growth.

Perhaps this second marriage is a second chance to learn from your mistakes in the first marriage. Again, I don’t know anything about your first husband, but was it difficult for you to love him unconditionally, as you feel you should do with your second husband? I have to wonder what would happen if you allowed yourself to love him in this way.

Loving someone unconditionally doesn’t mean you don’t have needs or expectations. It doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want and you have to be OK with it. It’s a change of heart. It’s a willingness to put aside our small views and skewed biases in favor of a larger and more generous view of others.

I have no idea if seeing your first husband this way would have made a difference in saving your marriage decades ago, but you feel it will make a difference now in this marriage.

Please don’t focus on what your husband should be working on. Instead, stay centered on the soul-stretching task at hand, which is to love an imperfect man you regret marrying. Even though I have a hunch this will improve your relationship with your husband, I’m absolutely certain it will help you grow into a stronger and more compassionate person.

You’ll be able to make better decisions about what you need from your husband, how to ask for it and what you can offer him. As I’ve written in previous columns, we all actually marry the “wrong person,” because no one is perfectly compatible in every way.

I don’t want to minimize any serious struggles you might be having with your husband, but unless there are irredeemable patterns of abuse, addiction, affairs or abandonment, I encourage you follow the feelings you have and stop looking back at your first marriage as an escape from your current pain and regrets. Turn to your husband to see what new view and perspective you can discover about your marriage.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • ladybugavenger September 12, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    You are crazy lady

  • Diana September 12, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    SMH, honey you need to let him go and move forward. Focus on your second husband and don’t make the same mistakes as the first one. Right now, the only thing you can do is respect your first because he’s the father of your children.

  • Redbud September 13, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Always avoid crazy women like the plague! I know from past experience, but it’s become one of the most valuable lessons of my life, because I won’t make the same mistake again. Glad that part of my life is far behind me now!

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