How I Learned to Love His Ex

How I Learned to Love His Ex

A second wife makes peace with her husband’s past and his intimidating ex.

By Wendy Robinson

When I met my husband, I was instantly smitten. He was cute, funny, smart as a whip, and the easiest person to talk to that I’d ever met. We met on a Friday night, had our first date on Saturday, and then were engaged four months later. We fell in love fast and in the whirlwind of new love, I didn’t think too much about Diane.

Diane is the woman who came before me. My husband, Michael, was married to her for 14 years before they split up, and they amicably shared custody of their two boys. By the time I met my husband, Diane had been a part of his life for more than 20 years.

At first, everything about her intimidated me. Diane is smart and artistic and she and my husband have a lot in common. I couldn’t help but compare myself to her. Was I as pretty as she was? Was I as smart as she was? After only being together for six months or a year, could I really believe that Michael could love me more than he loved her? I felt competitive, in desperate need of reassurance that I was the one he loved the most and that being second wife didn’t mean I was his second choice.

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Though I now realize how lucky I am that my husband’s ex is a sane and reasonable person, there were times early on when I wished that their breakup had been more dramatic. On some level, I wanted him to hate her, so I could be sure he loved me. I often wondered what she thought of me, this new woman in her sons’ lives. To my knowledge, she has never said a negative word about me to the boys, and I thank her for that. Over time, I outgrew my fear of her and moved to respecting, liking, and even, on some levels, loving her. She helped make my husband who he is now and she helped raise two great boys.

A few years ago Michael, our baby, and I went over to her house to celebrate a graduation for my oldest stepson. Diane and I sat on the couch and chatted. She even held and cooed over the baby. I could see my stepson watching us out of the corner of his eye, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for Diane. She was, with her calm and friendly manner, telling the boys that it was OK for them to love me too, to love their new little brother, to keep loving their dad. For this gift, I will always be grateful.


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Have you ever had to make peace with your partner’s ex?

Wendy Robinson is a writer, working mom, and graduate student. Someday she'd like to sleep in again. She also blogs at

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