They say comparison is the thief of joy. Maybe that’s true. I pondered that concept when I realized that in both of my marriages I’ve never been the “first wife.”
The first time I got married, I was the 2nd wife for my former husband. The second (and hopefully last) time I got married, I also became the second wife.
I’ve never had that whole “first-time” experience with a partner. I suppose it would have been nice to share that first experience of planning a wedding, getting married, or the excitement of imagining a life together without that shadow of the “been there done that” concept lurking under the marital bed.
The fact is that both of the men I’ve married in my lifetime came with lots of baggage. My first marriage was my first. But it wasn’t easy or smooth. It was tumultuous, ill-fated, and left me with my own heavy emotional load of suitcases to carry after the divorce. What I had helped my ex-husband to unpack eventually became mine to carry.
In my second and current marriage, we have managed to merge our combined emotional baggage into a functional relationship. It’s been difficult, but we’ve done it. Do I wish we’d met a decade sooner with more of a fresh slate? Sometimes.
But there’s something to be said for muddling through relationship mistakes in order to find out exactly what you don’t want. That’s not a bad place to start.
We all have slightly unrealistic expectations when we start wanting a serious mate. We may expect that they have a stable job, be attractive, funny, modest, kind, generous, good with kids, good with animals, easy-going, committed, loyal, and the list goes on and on. If a person with even half of those qualities can be found on the first try, then kudos to that fortunate soul!
In reality, through trial and error, most people who are trying to score a life partner find out the hard way that one human being alone is not the holy grail of perfection in a relationship. All people have flaws. All people make mistakes. And all people have to learn their life lessons in their own time.
And this is why I’m not particularly upset about always being the second wife. I know that I have experience under my belt that has changed my perception of thinking there’s some “perfect person” out there. My expectations are based in reality, not a fairy-tale.
While there may be those who met their first love when they were young and never looked back from that one true life partner, I am still proud of the somewhat messy journey that brought me to my current marriage. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without all that mess left behind me. The trail of heartbreak and hard lessons led me to where I needed to be today.
So, I’m an expert second wife. There’s been another past before me. There’s been another love before me. There’s been another heartbreak before me.
But I can’t let the past undermine my determination to make the best of second chances. That’s what’s so beautiful about making mistakes. At some point, you do learn.
More from Michelle: This Is Who Most People Blame For An Affair — And The Answer May Surprise You
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.