I thought this might be a good time to lay out some of the divorce manual guidelines for second marriages. These are what I learned from relationships, marriage counselors, and a variety of books and articles. I have been told that it is all really just common sense. Well, okay sure. I must not have much common sense.
I will start out with the easy ones and then allow things to get more complex. For the sake of simplicity “wife” will refer to the second wife. We will assume that she still has a minor child and that my children are grown (because they are) so Child will refer to her child and children will refer to my children.
1. Send a clear signal
In all things it is important to send a signal that the wife is now the highest priority. I read in a book on blending families (and I am not making this up) that the goal is to minimize the number of estranged children that you end up with. The author of that book felt pretty good about things because she and her new husband had only one estranged child. She didn’t say what the child felt like.
2. Happy Holidays!
This is a great time to show who is important. All children can be invited to the new home but you can’t really care if they don’t show up because you don’t want to hurt the feelings of the wife. However, it is also possible that the wife might want to take a cruise over the holidays, in which case, of course, you can’t invite your children but the Child will go along. Maybe next year it will be possible to see the children.
Now, one of the children could invite me and the wife over for the holidays. If the wife agrees then that is accepted. However, if the Child doesn’t want to go it gets more complex. However, I was told in that case I could go by myself. I think it would be expected for me to be sad that I was away from my wife though.
3. The Blessed Event
Weddings of any of the children are a joyous occasion with a great opportunity for everybody to be uncomfortable. When the wedding invitation comes it is important to say that you want to come, but of course you have to bring the wife and the Child. Of course the ex wife will also do the same thing. Now if one of the children says that it is their wedding and they want to control who comes then it is a great time “to take a stand” as I saw it put in another book. In this case you say you will not come to the wedding without the wife and so you just don’t go. I guess that is supposed to make the wife happy. It is hard to imagine a human being happy if they are the cause of that much turmoil. Oh wait, I forget they are not the cause of the turmoil because you are supposed to do that naturally and not because they want it. I forget that part sometimes.
The use of the words “taking a stand” and “showing some backbone” seems to come up quite often in books. I guess it is supposed to be an easy transition from a comfortable family environment to something representing a military action.
4. Simultaneous Events
This is a situation which can be confusing. Let’s say the Child has a special program at school but that one of the children has something going on as well. Of course you love the Child as much as you love your own children now so you have to choose which event you should go to. Also, obviously, you don’t want to be away from the wife so you don’t want to suggest going to these events separately, and it might send the signal that you don’t love the Child as much as the children. This one I decided that I would need some kind of computer program for so that I could put in a specific situation and the computer could tell me what to do.
5. Visiting the children
Now let’s say that I would like to visit one of the children that lives out of town. First and foremost is that I say that I will be bringing the wife and the Child and if they are not okay with that it pretty much stops there. However, if that is okay I check with the wife and Child but where I get confused is if the Child doesn’t want to go. Is this one where I go by myself again, but do I need to act sad and is their a maximum amount of time I should spend there? Also, how often should I call and say that I miss the wife? I would probably need that computer program again.
If it does work out and we visit one of the children it is critical to make sure that the wife and the Child are being treated well. If they are being slighted in any way it is time for me to speak up “and show some backbone.”
6. The organ transplant
This is a special case that I couldn’t help but include. One of the marriage counselors my ex girlfriend and I went to used to live in California. However, one of his children had to have a liver transplant. He and his wife (the mother of the child) moved to Cleveland to be near The Cleveland Clinic. It seemed like a natural and proper thing to do. However, the question I always wanted to ask was what he would have done if he had gotten divorced and then married somebody that was not the mother of this child. What if in this situation the second wife had said no way was she moving to Cleveland from California. Would her wishes had come first? I wonder what the divorce manual would say? I never got to ask that because in our first counseling session he turned to me and said why won’t you marry this wonderful woman? It didn’t seem like a very professional start.
I sure hope my common sense kicks in one of these days and I won’t need this manual.