Monday, October 30, 2017

Jealousy and insecurity don't make for a happy marriage...

I'm happy to report that my eyes are much better today than they were yesterday.  There's still a little bit of redness, but they don't hurt, aren't watering, and aren't full of gunk.  I am wearing my glasses right now, but may put in fresh lenses later.  I truly hate wearing glasses, so the sooner my eyes heal, the happier I will be.

Since it doesn't hurt to use my eyes today, I'm going to blog about a story I read about this morning on George Takei's Facebook page.  This woman posted on Reddit about how she'd married a widower with a teenaged daughter.  The man and his first wife had been very happily married for many years and he'd had pictures of his late wife all over his house.  Right before they got married, the writer and her new husband bought their own house together.  The writer only put up one photo of the guy's first wife; it was one that included the stepdaughter.    

The second wife was feeling jealous and insecure about her husband's past.  She was upset because he'd had such a long, successful history with his first wife.  Unbeknownst to her husband, she took it upon herself to dispose of his first wife's photos and possessions.  For two years, her husband never noticed.  

Then one day, the second wife's mother-in-law decided she wanted to create something for the stepdaughter, since she was seventeen and about to launch on her own.  At his mother's request, the second wife's husband went looking for photos of his first wife and couldn't find them.  Second wife, who has only known this man for four years and has apparently only been married to this man for just a couple of years, had to confess that she'd thrown away and/or given away the first wife's photos and possessions.  She'd even gotten on his computer and deleted pictures he'd stored of his first wife there.

Naturally, the husband is extremely angry with his wife.  She's now worried that their marriage will end.  But she's also pregnant.  She knows she really screwed up and wants to make amends, but this was such a violation of trust that her husband can barely stand to be around her now. 

I read some of the comments on this article posted on Takei's page.  Most everyone is reacting emotionally and referring to the Reddit user in vile terms.  At least one of my friends, himself a widower, has said he would never forgive anyone who would throw away his late wife's photos and possessions.  

I agree that what this woman did was very wrong.  As much as I despise Bill's ex wife, I never threw away pictures of her or the few mementos Bill had of their tragic union.  I figured they weren't my things to throw away.  Fortunately, the stuff he had from that marriage were mostly packed away in boxes from our many moves.  The one exception was a book Ex sent to Bill before he went to Iraq.

Bill had sent his kids letters before he deployed, in case he ended up dying.  Ex's response was to send Bill a children's book he used to read to their kids with a shitty message about how he needed to learn forgiveness.  I was pretty furious about that and he left it lying around the house for a few weeks.  Fortunately, he was smart enough to send it back to her and he was snarky enough to write "You need this more than I do." on the book cover.  That was the only item I was ever tempted to throw out and, much to my credit, I never did.

When we lived in Texas, Bill finally threw away the stuff from his first marriage.  He had been divorced from his ex for thirteen years at that point, and we had a box that we kept hauling to each new duty station.  He opened it up and realized that the photos of his ex wife and kids, neither of whom were speaking to him at the time, caused him a lot of pain.  So he took it upon himself to rid himself of the baggage.  

I remember when we discovered that box as we were unpacking in Texas.  I found a card he'd given his ex, promising to be a better husband.  It made me feel sick to read it, since Bill is a fantastic husband.  Around that same time, I also found old emails between the ex and Bill that were sent just a few years after the gushy cards he'd given her.  I realized that the gushy cards had been a big sham.  He'd given them to her to try to hold on to his turd of a first marriage.  It was a losing proposition, much to my good fortune.  

Still, even as I recognize that Bill's first marriage was shitty, I still wouldn't take it upon myself to dump his property or dispose of his memories.  So I completely understand why people are totally outraged by what the Reddit user did.  Her situation is very different from mine.  Her husband had a wonderful first marriage that produced a lovely daughter with whom he still has a relationship.  He loved his wife dearly and probably would still be with her if she hadn't died.  Moreover, it hasn't been that long that he's been married to his second wife.  I would imagine that after she did what she did, he may not feel like he even knows her.  I can't blame him for being furious.

At the same time... I have to admit that I have some empathy for the woman who wrote this letter.  Even though my situation is very different than hers is, I know what it's like to be married to a man who has a long history with another woman.  Good or bad, you weren't there for those years.  His family will have memories of her and they will talk about her.  Even if those memories are bad, they don't include you.  It can cause you to feel insecure.  I will admit that one of the main reasons I don't get along with Bill's stepmother is because even after fifteen years of marriage, I still feel like an interloper when I'm around her.  Ex didn't even make it to ten years with Bill, but they had kids together and it just feels like even though she's a horribly abusive cunt, Bill's stepmom prefers her.

I can understand how, when you're dating a man and he has pictures of his first wife all over the house, it can stir up feelings of jealousy.  Frankly, I think I would have had a long talk with the guy and asked him if he was truly ready to move on to a new relationship before I agreed to marry him.  I will concede that buying a house together and only putting up one photo of the first wife was a good initial compromise.  It's too bad they didn't think to either put most of the first wife's stuff in storage or have it stored by a relative who could have saved it for the daughter.  That way, it would have been out of the house, yet safe from the second wife's hormonally charged whims.  Of course, there is a big difference between empathy and sympathy.  I empathize in that I know where the feelings are coming from.  I don't sympathize because I don't condone the woman's behavior.   

I think the letter writer acted irrationally.  What she did was reprehensible.  However, she clearly sees that she was wrong and it sounds like she has remorse.  Moreover, the fact that she's pregnant complicates things.  Because now, if this couple splits up, they will have a child that will be in the middle of a nasty rift.  I hope this couple is able to find a good counselor who can help them move past this.  If there's still any love there, it would be better for their unborn child to have access to both parents.

I also think this situation is one that illustrates just how important it is to be very ready before you commit to marriage.  It's possible the husband wasn't quite ready to move on, although if he had packed up the pictures and wasn't upset that there was only one up with his first wife, maybe he had moved on.  The second wife was definitely not mature enough to take on the role of second wife and stepmother.  I feel especially sorry for the stepdaughter and the unborn child.  I hope this couple can make amends or, at least work things out well enough so their unborn child won't start life with fucked up parents from the get go.  On the other hand, this may be one mistake the husband won't be able to forgive.

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