About three weeks ago Ridley and I attended a wedding. During dinner after the ceremony, a widow asked me, “How is it being the second wife after someone passes away?” I gave my familiar answer when similar questions come up. My answer was, “Some days are great and some aren’t as easy, but it is worth it. I trust that God has me where He wants me for this season”.
Driving home, I thought of many times that I have been asked similar questions. I can remember very specific times I have been asked by close friends, family, and strangers that we meet during our ministry travel. I thought of how often at events, someone will come up at the end and ask how I can sit through Ridley’s presentation. That’s my testimony to a God that is bigger than my fears or insecurities.
Since that wedding, I have thought about the question at dinner. To give God glory, I often focus on the really good days. However, I have decided I may need to share some of the hard days to also give God glory. Today, I might be able to encourage some other “second wife” who has more hard days than good days. So this blog is not to complain, have a pity party or discredit what God has done and will do in my life during this season as Mrs. Barron. I am sure some of the hard days for Ridley would be somewhat the same at times with me being divorced. I also want to share once again the respect I have for Ridley’s first wife, Sarah. She loved her husband and her children well and I am blessed by her influence.
Here are some of my hard parts:
1. MARRIED LATE: We are a few weeks away from hitting the 5 year mark as a family. I can not even begin to list all the things that we have experienced in 5 years. Most of you could probably say the same. However, for us, we have been trying to establish family and new normal in the middle of all of it. There are so many tugs at our marriage at this age that I can’t even begin to describe how difficult it is just to enjoy getting to know your husband and family. I often secretly wish I met Ridley sooner. I think about how the struggles would have been finding our first apartment and not having 3 houses when we first married. I often dream of having little babies together instead of teenagers with hormones and dating. I missed some of the coloring and finger painting days. I think we would have had cute babies and I won’t ever get to share the delivery room excitement with Ridley (maybe we can get a taste of it with grandkids one day).
2. FAMILY: After 5 years, I am still piecing together who my family is. I don’t mean just meeting them and learning who goes with who. I mean really knowing who they are. There are some hard days. Probably one of the hardest things is that I never got to know Ridley’s dad. I hear how much fun he and I would have had. I have listened to stories and gathered pictures to better understand who my father-in-law was. I haven’t had the early years with my mother-in-law where we could go to lunch or shop for the grandkids. I am grateful that I have gotten to love on her. The hard days come sometimes when her memory is lacking a bit and she calls me Sarah. Then, I have wonderful sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law that I adore but when we all sit and talk. I don’t remember their wedding days or the boys growing up.
3. MY KIDS and OUR LIFE: This is one of the hardest parts. I didn’t raise Harrison and Abby when they were little. I don’t always understand their quirks or habits. I will be honest (as I know Ridley would say the same about my girls), those quirks can get on your nerves if you didn’t have any part in dealing with them. You have to parent to change the behaviors of your kids that need to be changed but you can’t change their nature or silly quirks that define who they are. They can still drive you nuts, though. It takes times to really get to know your step kids and for them to get to know you. At my age, I am desperate to know them better faster. Selfishly, I feel like the clock ticks loud at times because teenagers do this thing where they are gone so much and then leave for college. Most parents might be excited for that season, but I am just getting started. Hard days even come when I want to be sure to bring up their mom and talk with them about her, but inside I selfishly just want to pretend to be their real mom.
4. AGING: At first we all might laugh at this one, but it is a real issue. Our love is young but our bodies and mind aren’t. With minds that are trying to forget some things (like the past) and then remember some things (like new friends and who played what role in each other’s life), it is hard to recall all the new stuff that comes with a “do-over” marriage. Ridley and I can be talking about something as simple as a previous vacation or old car loan and then we realize it was when we were married before. Ridley asked me one time if I remembered something about a vacation and I had to remind him that it wasn’t me. I know that is expected in our situation, but it can still be hard. We have dealt with high blood pressure, diet changes, a hysterectomy, eye issues, feet issues, ace bandages, and medicated sport creams. Let’s be honest! Those aren’t always sexy when you are newly married.
5. DIVORCE VS. DEATH: This topic comes up in our ministry every now and then. I think it might be more with me as I help divorced women work through their own journey. Any kind of separation is hard on a spouse and the kids. There is no question about a loss of any kind being hard. The most important thing I have learned, that can be very hard on our whole family, is the difference between someone choosing to leave and someone not choosing to leave. In Ridley’s presentation, I have heard him answer a question a couple of times where he said he wished it had never happen. He SHOULD say that. It makes total sense. Me and my kids can’t always say that about our situations. We are in a sweet spot in our lives right now. God has done some amazing things, but abandonment brings different scars. There are bad memories and we deal with insecurities or feelings of not being good enough. We don’t always want to talk about memories. I have been told by counselors that when a person passes away, you remember all the good more than you remember the bad. I think that is a sweet gift. With divorce, you remember the bad more than you remember the good. All of those facts can just make for some hard, awkward and needed conversations. A couple of years ago one of my daughters asked me how it felt to be the second choice. I think she was asking to deal with her own feelings because she followed it up with this question that I have never forgotten, “Mom, you know if both families were standing here in front of dad, he wouldn’t pick us. We were second. So, when we get to heaven, if you recognize people, which family is he going to pick?” That question prompted a great discussion about loving Jesus so much that when you get to heaven you are just going to be rejoicing and be so excited to see the King that nothing else will matter.
6. RIDLEY: I adore my husband! He is amazing and makes me a better person. We have our share of difficult days and I think both of our pasts make normal difficult even more difficult. I believe that is why the blended family success rate is so low. We are determined to let God show off in our family. There is no doubt that as we have adjusted to all of the above, our marriage has taken some hits. Most marriages do, but our hits tend to be more from history than from our own experiences. Whether we are talking about how to discipline our kids or how we plan for the financial demands that married people our age typically face, there is always more past history affecting us more than “Ridley and Lisa together” history. For me, sitting through presentations and having Sarah’s pictures in our house is the easy part. The really hard days are being reminded that you are second. Sometimes I forget and can be rolling along in my sweet spot and then something happens and I am quickly reminded that Ridley (rightfully so), probably wouldn’t have picked this. That is a lot to work through in this girl brain. There are days when we fight that I KNOW he wouldn’t have picked this. Those are the days that I am so glad I put Jesus first in my life. It challenges me even more to pray about absolutely everything. You see, after life happened to our individual families, God DID pick me. Some days I wonder what the heck He was thinking, but on the days where I work through being the second wife, I just listen for the familiar whisper of, “I picked you, Lisa. For this season in your life and in Ridley’s life, I chose you.”
If you face today as second in someone’s life, please remember there is a big, sweet, loving God that says, “I love you. I picked you”. Everybody else is second too, because God should always be first in our lives.