• Mon, Dec 16 - 10:00 am ET

I’m Patting My Past Self On The Back For Marrying A Divorced Dude Instead Of A Clueless Single Chump

brideMy husband and I got married at 26, which is still fairly young by many people’s standards. By that time, he was already a card-carrying (or divorce-paper-carrying) divorcee. He was someone that got married young to his high school girlfriend. Spoiler alert—it didn’t work out because now we’re married with two sons. Yay!

Okay, it wasn’t really that simple. My husband and I were actually best friends in high school, and we reunited after he got divorced at 24. We can thank our romantic reconnection to a little thing called MySpace. (Those were the days…)

So, we reconnected, I moved back to Texas, and we got married a few years later. While it all sounds beautifully simple, I had tons and tons and tons of insecurities about his ex-wife. Granted, I probably would have felt that way about any serious ex in his past, married or not, because I was just insecure like that.

It took a lot of talking and hashing out of past issues before I felt really comfortable with the “ghost” of my husband’s past. But now, we’ve certainly moved on from that, and the majority of the time, I forget he was ever married before.

Which brings me to my point. Even though my husband had his share of baggage to get through, he was definitely ahead of the curve when it came to what it took to make a relationship work. As a child of divorce, I know that divorce can go several different ways. Many people become jaded and bitter and stew in their juices (Hi, Dad!). Some people face the unpleasant reality of what caused their marriage to dissolve, learn from it, and move on.

When I got married, I was really, really inexperienced in having an open, honest relationship. I wouldn’t call myself a liar along the lines of being pathological, but I definitely lied about my feelings because I didn’t want to experience the burn of rejection. Because my husband and his ex-wife lied to each other constantly and hid everything from each other, he made one ground rule that we had to stick to when we moved in together: We had to be honest about everything.

As long as I was willing to accept those conditions, we could go on our merry way. As it turns out, being honest is really freaking hard. I mean, it seems like a wonderful and noble endeavor, but it’s hard to say exactly what you’re thinking and not worry about the backlash. It’s hard to put yourself out there and open yourself up and wonder how the other person will react. I didn’t have a lot of positive experience with it from my childhood years.

Not to lay on the cheese too heavily, but my husband’s forced honesty as a byproduct of his divorce is the reason I am emotionally healthy today. (Well, I’m getting there.) I know there are plenty of people that get married for the first time and have a successful, open, and honest relationship for the rest of their lives. As for me, I couldn’t have imagined it any other way. Depending on the person, divorced dudes can bring a lot to the table.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • Kay_Sue

    I completely agree with your last line. My husband is also a divorcee after his young marriage also failed. One of the things I loved from the get-go was his honesty about what went wrong in his marriage. Although the actual, final reason it ended was irrevocably her choice, he was very open about his feelings that he had not been a good husband. He was clear about his expectations in our relationship, he was fairly good at communication already, and he was ready from the very early stages to commit and work things out. All of these have made our relationship that much easier in some respects.

    I always tell my single friends it’s not easy, but don’t write off a divorced man immediately. It seems like there really is a bit of a stigma. I don’t know about divorced women (I’ve never dated one), but when we started dating, everyone assumed his marriage falling apart was his fault, and that he would be a serial husband because he’d never understand his mistakes and was incapable of learning from them. It was really…well, sexist. His marriage ending nearly ruined him. Losing his kids nearly ruined him. It would take a total asshat not to want to do better with a second chance.

    A dude that’s been through it, that knows what went wrong, that understands and accepts his role in it and doesn’t want to go through it again can make an amazing mate.

    • Bethany Ramos

      That is so true. I do think a lot of people assume that a divorced man (or maybe any divorced person) was the one responsible and would be a bad choice for a mate – serial husband, just like you said. I have known a few serial husbands in my lifetime, but a divorced guy that learns from his experience is actually an exceptional candidate. Sounds like your husband was in a similar boat.

      I also appreciated how my husband knew a lot of marriage related things already, like buying and selling a house, combining bank accounts, etc. Granted, you can learn all of that by living with somebody too, but it made me feel much more comfortable.

    • Kay_Sue

      It was really surprising how vocal people were about it. I had some very real, “Uh, you’ve never even met him,” moments. My dad’s stepmother was the worst–and my grandfather is her third husband! She’s been getting divorced since before getting divorced was cool!

      It was helpful that he’d already navigated all of those waters too.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I think the only reason my family was cool was because of our high school history. Other friends thought I was crazy for making such a drastic move to TX with someone who was divorced!

  • DY

    I am also a second wife. so much of what you said is true, and our stories are very similar. I first met my husband 10 years ago, only about a year into his first marriage. We were involved in the same community group. everyone in the group could see how completely wrong they were and how disrespectful she was to him. She would treat him like shit in front of all of us, none of us thought that marriage would last. Our lives took us in separate directions, only to reconnect 6 years later when we both rejoined the group. He had just gotten divorced (as in, the day before our first meeting!) and over the course of the next few weeks, we talked a lot and went out a few times. I directly asked him why he got divorced. Besides catching her (in the act) of sleeping with his coworker, and finding out that she had drank and gambled away their savings, he admitted that he was a doormat for all those years and him deciding to get a backbone and throw her ass out was the first step of becoming a new person. And he was right, he was a completely different person than when we first met. So 6 weeks after his divorce was final, we were engaged and married 5 months later. At first there were some insecurities about being the 2nd wife, then we ran into her at a store last summer and I saw how fat she got and how ugly her new husband is, so… I win!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Haha I am not above gloating over a fat ex!! Congrats to you – sounds like your husband learned a lot from a shitty marriage. We got together pretty soon after my husband’s divorce as well. I think when the time is right, and you can tell the person is open and honest, it definitely can work the second time around.

    • DY

      I knew that if he was still bitter about everything then we could never work. The boyfriend before my husband was also divorced and he would not stop bitching about her. He had been divorced for several years, yet constantly talked about all the things she did that he hated. And compared me to her all the time. I just couldn’t take that anymore. So when I reconnected with my husband, I was very honest with him: if you’re not over her than we can be anything more than friends. His exact response: “It was over years ago, the papers were merely a formality.” Of course, she had a breakdown when she found out that her ex was remarrying so soon. She stalked us, followed me to work, called him repeatedly. She’s nuts. But we have two adorable boys and a real marriage and she’s fat with a high school dropout for a husband.

    • Andrea

      Good grief girl, why don’t you just call her a cum burping ho and be done with it!

    • Alex

      Ugly/fat-shaming, nice!!!

  • Andrea

    While the title of your article made me gag (and yes I know YOU don’t write the titles), I agree with the sentiment expressed in it.

    Although I married a “clueless single chump”, he was older than me had a few long term relationships under his belt, and yes he taught me a lot about how to be a couple that lasts. So at 15 years of marriage and 2 kids, I am definitely the one he has been with the longest (and only one had had children with) and I am obnoxiously proud of that because I can be shallow like that; but I DO thank the ones that came before me (ha ha ha) because they had a hand in making him a good partner.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Soooo I did write this title – sorry for the gagging! ;) But I do know exactly what you’re saying, and the “divorce wisdom” can definitely apply to any man that has experience with long-term, serious relationships. You are clearly doing something right!

    • Andrea

      LOL, ok. I sorta assumed, a lot of writers here say they don’t wrote the titles. Oh well! I think you know what I mean though, one woman’s funny tongue in cheek sentence is another woman’s offensive remark. ;)

    • Bethany Ramos

      I was trying to exaggerate as much as possible, but thank God you have a sense of humor. :)

    • Natasha B

      My hubs wasn’t married before-but he is 7 years older than me, and was in a long,long term relationship. They bought a house (yay me! I have a house now!) and I think it’s a good thing-we know what works and what doesn’t, and we communicate constantly about where we are, and satisfaction, etc. It’s great :) also-he never had kids with her or gave her a ring, so yay me! We’ve been popping out babies non stop haha

  • Lucille two

    I thought this site embraced moms and was above rude insults of regarding other women. I find the comment thread disappointing.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I really do apologize if you felt that way. I was being sarcastic in talking about gloating, but “ex-hating” is something I can identify with because I was very insecure early on in my relationship, as I described above.

  • robbie

    Stupendous article!!

  • meteor_echo

    I wouldn’t marry a divorced guy if he had children from a previous marriage (no way in hell, I don’t want my own and definitely don’t want anyone else’s ankle biters) or if he were in a long-term relationship and wasn’t one to break it off. I’m not going to play second fiddle to anyone, regardless of whom it may piss off.

    • SusannahJoy

      Yeah, but that sounds like different issues. If you don’t want kids, of course you wouldn’t marry someone with kids. At least, I hope you wouldn’t, because people who do that are kinda messed up, and the kids suffer the most. And if he was still in a long term relationship, that would be cheating, so that’s not ok. Or do you mean that he got dumped in his past? Because I have to admit, that does sound really…. insecure. I mean, if he’s still hung up on his ex that’s one thing, but just because he didn’t do the dumping? As long as he’s over it, what difference does that make?

    • meteor_echo

      I’m obviously not marrying anyone with kids or anyone who wants them. Children are an issue that cannot be compromised on, after all.
      And somewhat of a PSA: people are allowed to have insecurities, they don’t really owe anyone to be secure, as long as they aren’t hurting other people. I wouldn’t want to pick someone who had a very long-term relationship because I’d inevitably compare myself to that person and most likely would lose. As for the dumping – when you leave, you get to end the relationship and switch your feelings off first. When you’re the one who is dumped, sometimes you still love the one who dumped you, it hurts, blah blah blah. I don’t really need anyone with unresolved ex issues, however callous it sounds.

    • Andrea

      Of course you are allowed whatever insecurities you wish. Having said that, I would think the dating pool would get smaller and smaller as we get older if one the criteria is “never been dumped”. I’m not sure very many people over 30 have never been dumped.

    • meteor_echo

      It’s not like I’m planning to hop from one relationship to another. If I break up with my current boyfriend, I’ll spare myself the pain in the butt and stay single, because that’s pretty much okay with me.

    • Andrea

      Nothing wrong with that either.

    • meteor_echo

      As well it should be.

    • jess

      My best friend has that crtieria- she refuses to date guys who were the dumpee- because she doesn’t want sloppy seconds.
      She’s been single for about 4 years now.

    • meteor_echo

      Not seeing any problem with being single. If a nice guy comes along – great, if not – also great, because prowling around in hopes to ~find a man~ is absolutely not worth my time.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Meteor, I feel like I haven’t seen you as much here lately and just wanted to say I’m happy to see you back!

    • meteor_echo

      :D Thank you!
      I’ve been considering leaving, then I guess I decided to stay for some time. Not leaving for now, at least!

    • Bethany Ramos

      No, don’t leave! You bring a great perspective. :)

  • Rachel Sea

    My wife and I have 3 ironclad rules: Don’t lie to me, don’t cheat on me, and don’t do crystal meth. It’s worked great for us so far, we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary on Saturday.

    • jess

      hey those are my rules too!
      Almost exactly my rules actually!
      “Don’t lie to me. Don’t cheat on me. Be smart about hard drugs Coke. OK. Crystal meth not so much”
      Are you a short Asian man? If yes- you could be my husband!

  • tSubh Dearg

    I am engaged to a divorcing man (they’ve been at this divorce business now for almost 9 years – thanks Irish legal system!) with four kids. People thought I was nuts to get involved with him, but they see how well we get on together now and how we’ve now been together longer than his first marriage lasted and I nobody comments on it anymore.

    He definitely had learnt a lot from his marriage and I find it very reassuring that he knows what to do with babies for when we eventually have one of our own.

  • Mikster

    ove the clueless single chump I married- in fact we were those high school sweethearts who met at age 15 and have been together ever since! 34 years together, 28 of them happily married. and still say we cannot imagine being with anyone but each other.
    That said, I think every person is different. Some people are better at relationships than others, some learn every little thing they can from life. Your guy sounds like a real keeper!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Thank you – and what you said is so true. Your story is so sweet, and I look forward to hitting 28 years of marriage. :)

  • Lry

    Good to read. It was the idea of possibly becoming one of those divorced dudes that kept me from marrying my high school girlfriend. Which was the right decision to make whether the reasoning was sound or not.

  • CW

    I could never trust a guy who’d been unfaithful to his first wife. Now I wouldn’t automatically rule out dating someone just because he’d been divorced, but the breakup would’ve had to have been either the ex-wife’s fault or a mutual realization of incompatibility.

    • ElleJai

      My DH and his ex wife were both cheating on each other (on breaks as well as properly together) and he has never once looked at anyone but me.

      It depends on the person and whether they realise it was shitty, unhealthy behaviour; but if they do they are capable of maturing into a decent mate.

  • AlbinoWino

    I am engaged to a guy who was married a long time and has a daughter. He is also 9 years older than me. These are all criteria I swore to myself would each be a deal breaker but here I am. I think it actually does come with its advantages. His ex has some mental health issues and now identifies as being gay so as awful as it sounds, I have zero concern of him going back to her.