Let’s face it. Second marriages don’t have the best track record. In fact, 67% of them end in divorce. With custody battles, court hearings, child support arguments, alimony payments…the list goes on and on about all the negative ordeals second marriages face that first marriages don’t. It takes two very determined, very mature, and VERY level headed people to not only survive a second marriage situation but to be happy in it.

Ex-spouses are ex-spouses for a reason. These reasons usually differ depending on which ex you talk to, but ultimately these two people are just fundamentally different. Different in their morals, beliefs, and different in their definition of love and marriage. When kids are involved, it can feel like an ex-spouse is an ex only in the sense that they aren’t in your bed. Raising kids with an ex-means communication still has to take place, attending events for the sake of the kids happens and generally having the ex a part of your life is unavoidable.

Honestly, I don’t know how my husband handles the daily stressors that come with having an ex-spouse. I’ve realized over the years that being a stepparent not only means loving someone else’s child, but it also means loving your husband through thick and thin and the downright unfathomable. For one, I love showing my stepdaughter what a healthy marriage looks like. She’s growing up witnessing a true love and will hopefully want that for herself someday.

Two, I married this man. I knew I was getting two for the price of one and I said, “I do” loud and clear. His first run at marriage failed, and it rocked him to the core. His beliefs on love and commitment were challenged, and if you married a divorced person I’m sure theirs were as well. It’s scary to sign up for round two of something that exploded in your face the first time. Men and women in their second marriage deserve compassion and a second chance at a happily ever after.

How do you do this? I’m a big believer in actions speaks louder than words, so here are three things you can do to show your love to your better half:

Hug them. So simple, yet easily overlooked. As people, we crave the human touch. But we tend to focus on touch when we are scared or need protection. How about hugging after a good home-cooked meal, or doing the dishes? And I’m not talking about a quick, half-hearted pat on the back. I’m talking about a slow, meaningful embrace. When my husband hugs me, I feel myself relax, my heart slows down, and I feel noticed and appreciated. Hug your spouse when they need it, AND when they don’t.

Listen to them. One of the benefits I discovered of being a second wife was the ability to avoid mistakes made by the first wife. When divorced people date, their new partners are naturally curious about the reasons why their marriage crumbled. As I heard my husband’s side of the story, I learned a lot about what bothers him, what makes him feel suffocated, what makes him feel unsupported…I don’t wish divorce on anyone, but if you find yourself dating a divorcee, learn from their past. It can protect your future with them, and make for a very happy, healthy relationship.

Romance them. As I said, second marriages have horrible statistics. Throw stepkids into the mix and the going gets even tougher. There I was, a googly-eyed newlywed. Our first weekend as a married couple consisted of a Chuck E. Cheese playdate, folding clothes plastered with Ana and Elsa, and being woken up at the crack of dawn in my Victoria’s Secret silk white nightie. You see, not only was it my first weekend as a wife, it was my first weekend as an official Stepmom. I’ll tell you right now that no marriage can survive without romance. So get creative! Leave a sexy post-it note on their toothbrush, restock their favorite wine for the weekend, wake them up with a kiss before the kids come bursting through the door…whatever you do, don’t make a second marriage become second priority.

Show your spouse their decision to give marriage another chance was the best choice of their life. And I promise you; you will feel even more loved in return.

 

This article originally appeared at http://www.theihaveseries.com/blog/2017/1/10/how-to-love-your-first-husband-as-his-second-wife .

Colleen LeMaire was formerly the “Stepparenting Expert” contributing writer for About.com’s Stepparenting Blog. She has now launched her own site, The I Have Series. Colleen is also the children’s book author of “I Have Two Homes,” “I Have a Stepmom,” and “I Have a Stepdad.”