Building Trust in a Second Marriage

Question: I met my present wife while I was still married. My divorce was drawn out and ugly. Sara took the brunt of the unpleasantness by being labeled the other woman. It was close to two years before we could marry. During that time she remained sweet and supportive. She appeared to understand at those times when I couldn't be with her, and busied herself with her own pursuits--business or cultural. Marriage changed all that; with the marriage license came a giant case of jealousy. She expects an explanation for every hour we're not together--and then she checks up on me. It's an intolerable situation. I love her, but I can't stand her new possessiveness. As much as I explain my whereabouts, it's seldom sufficient. At what point does a second wife trust her husband?

Answer: Your wife is undoubtedly reliving your early days together--only now she is very aware that she is the wife. If you are to have a future together, you must go back and deal with the past. Building trust is essential to a healthy marriage. Counseling to resolve her fears and ensure a healthy and rewarding relationship is in order.

Q: I am a divorced man in my late 40s who is just beginning to socialize. I've read your column for some time, so I was at least intellectually prepared for the changes in dating from 20-odd years ago. I pride myself on being a pretty flexible person, and I can live with equality (not opening doors, not lighting cigarettes, sharing expenses), even if it isn't my personal preference. Where I have difficulty is in the perceived image of a single man. There's no way a man could live up to the sexual prowess his friends believe is his, or to the expectations of his dates, often first-time dates. I'm not handsome or macho -looking, just average, so I wasn't prepared for this aspect of dating. How should I handle it?

A: A gentleman doesn't talk about his sex life or his partners. Let your friends imagine whatever they wish; just don't comment one way or another. As far as pressure from your dates, don't be intimidated into doing anything you aren't ready for, but also be sure that you aren't confusing your own perception of single women with reality. My mail indicates that most women don't want to be rushed into intimacy.

Q: My parents divorced, and Mom remarried a widower who has two daughters. They and I are close in age and go to the same school. What do I say when I'm asked if I have any brothers or sisters? I've been an only child until now.

A: Technically, your new sisters are stepsisters, and you can identify them as such. Or, if you are good friends and want to, you can drop the step , which sometimes creates a distance in the relationship, and refer to the girls as your sisters.

Send your questions for possible use in Living With Divorce to Virginia Doody Klein, P.O. Box 16290, St. Louis, Mo. 63105.

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