Second Wives and Empty Cradles

There are advantages to being a second wife (or, in my case, third-and-a-half).  The husband in question has hopefully learned a few things about how to make a marriage work, and he has matured—ripened—into better husband material.  All of that seems to be true with my husband.  I am the lucky recipient of what took over 20 years for other women to refine.

But of course there are also drawbacks to not being the first wife.  One that is particularly difficult for me is that my husband has no interest in the usual progression of a new marriage.  There are certain things I always imagined I would do once I got married.  As a first-time bride, even though I’m in my forties, I still hoped to experience those things.  But my husband has been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

And he doesn’t want to go back.

I only have one child, still young, and I hoped to have more.  My husband has three kids, two of which are grown.  He’s done having kids, and he’s looking forward to having grandkids.  His daughter has just gotten engaged and is talking about having children.  I guess it would be kind of weird for him to have a grandchild that was the same age (or older!) than his own child.  But that doesn’t make it any easier for me to accept that one child (wonderful though she is) is all I’ll ever have.  At my age, the odds of conceiving are stacked against me, anyway, but that I can accept easily.  I could say, “Oh, well, at least we tried.”

But we didn’t.

And we won’t.

There is no point in trying to change my husband’s mind.  Even if I could convince him, who wants to get pregnant at my age with a reluctant father?  The whole point is that I hoped for an enthusiastic pregnancy partner who would be joyous and doting.  I didn’t get that with my first pregnancy.  I had a long, lonely, stressed, and overworked pregnancy.  I wouldn’t want to do that again.

I knew before I married my husband that he was not enthusiastic about having more kids, but I didn’t realize he was totally closed to the idea, and I didn’t realize how much it would bother me.  Is the relationship we have good enough to make me feel okay about not having more kids?  Some might argue that this is such a huge, insurmountable difference, we should not stay together, and I should quickly seek a more fatherhood-receptive partner.  But the truth is, that takes time, and that’s the one thing I don’t have.  I could leave my husband to seek my motherhood fulfillment elsewhere, but there’s no guarantee I would ever get it.

Is a husband in the hand worth two babies in the bush?

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