(This Week’s post is taken from Chapter 5 of “Husbands: An Owner’s Manual.”)

You may have wanted a brand, spanking new husband, but the one you got had a previous owner.  Everything is fine under the hood, the motor purrs like a kitten but he’s got a few miles on the tires and a scratch or two on the rear left bumper.

Selecting a pre-owned husband has its pros and cons.  On the one hand he’s already broken in.  Someone else taught him to put down the toilet seat, hold back your hair when you puke and tell you your butt looks fine.

On the other hand, used husbands often come with a few encumbrances like a random child or two and at least one deranged ex-wife. (By definition, they’re always deranged.)

If you have a choice, find a man who has sons rather than daughters.  They’ll either ignore you or accept you, but they won’t engage you in mortal combat over Daddy’s affection.

All stepchildren are tricky, however.   Unlike newborn babies, they have pre-existing expectations, behavior patterns, likes and dislikes. You have to adapt to them; they will not under any circumstances adapt to you.  And even though you may be paying for half their tuition and braces, you don’t get to select the school or the orthodontist.

The younger the children, the more issues will arise.  But if you bide your time and play the long game, you can look forward to a rewarding relationship in the future — like when they’re middle-aged and have to decide whether or not to put you in a home.

Even without children, being a second wife has its challenges.  In addition to the ex-wife, there are ex-in-laws, friends, neighbors and co-workers who knew and perhaps even liked the first wife. (I’m sure even Lizzie Borden had friends.) Unless you create a new circle of friends, you’ll run the risk of always coming in second.

But you will have one major advantage a first wife can never claim.  Your battle-scarred husband selected you when he was more mature and had a better understanding of what he wanted from a relationship.   Furthermore, he was willing to take a chance on marriage knowing how painful its dissolution can be. Second marriages — “The triumph of hope over experience.”

He has to really love you to risk it all again.  And who doesn’t want that.

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