Dear Dr. Yael,
I am writing to you about my second marriage. Baruch Hashem, both my husband and I had wonderful first marriages and brought up beautiful families. Interestingly, my current husband and I dated when we were very young and then married other people. My first husband was a brilliant man and a great husband and father. Before he died, we were zoche to marry off all of our children, and even two grandchildren. He had even seen the birth of a couple of great-grandchildren.
After both our spouses were niftar my second husband and I met again; though it had been 50 years, it was like we were that young couple. We married and, Baruch Hashem, all the children and grandchildren get along.
So, what’s the problem? My daughters are polite and nice to him, but seem upset that my marriage is such a happy one. Our relationship is warm and romantic; he is financially successful and very generous with me and with my children. Yet, my kids treat him in a cold manner.
Dr. Respler, my sons do not have the same issue. They love my husband and are happy that I am happy. So, why aren’t my daughters happy for me? Why does this deep emotional and physical connection I have with my current husband bother them so much?
I know that my first husband, who loved me very much and was a wonderful person, had to have been involved in arranging things for me in the Olam HaEmes. How can I help my daughters understand this?
Statistically people who have successful first marriages tend to have successful second marriages – they know how to be married. It appears that both you and your husband are making efforts at keeping your families whole, and that is great.
What I am hearing about your daughters tells me that they loved their father very deeply and feel hurt that you are happy with another man, even if this man is being so nice to them and their children. Women are generally more sensitive and astute and the fact that you seem happier and more vibrant may be upsetting to your daughters, who may still miss their father.
Since your daughters are being respectful I would try to speak to them in a loving manner and explain that you will always love their father and believe that he is happy that you are happy. Be patient with them. Time heals and, hopefully, over time, your daughters will be more accepting and warm in their dealings with your second husband.
If after some time nothing changes, you may want to ask your daughters to join you in meeting with a therapist so that everyone can have a safe place to air their feelings.
Until then, continue to enjoy your marriage; don’t let you daughters create stress or anxiety for you and your husband. You are lucky to have found love twice in your life.
Hatzlocha on your journey. May the days ahead be filled with much simcha and nachas.