Dear Readers: Thank you for your heartfelt and humbling responses to Second Wife, who is bothered that her second husband continues to carry a photo of his late wife in his billfold. These serve as an important reminder that though loved ones die, our love for them doesn’t.
Dear Annie: After 20-plus years of marriage, my now-husband and I both lost our first spouses. We had long and wonderful marriages before they were both cut short by cancer.
When my now-husband and I married, we embraced our first spouses into our marriage. It’s a marriage of four people, not just two. They were a part of who we were then and the people we are now. Their pictures are as important a part of our home as the pictures of his two daughters, my daughter and our grandchild.
We still talk about them, remember the good times and share stories. We take flowers to the cemetery on their birthdays and “death days.” We love them just as much today as we did 20 years ago.
My now-husband and I just celebrated our 22nd anniversary. So my advice to Second Wife is to embrace the first spouse, share stories and add your pic in his wallet. Perhaps opening up to one another — sharing stories about your first spouses — will enrich your current marriage, as it has for me and my now-husband. — With Open Arms
Dear Annie: I, too, lost my wife, and I can tell you she will always be part of my life. I completely disagree that he should bury the past.
Losing a spouse is like losing part of yourself. I believe that it is possible to find new love, but that new love is an addition, not a replacement.
I think Second Wife needs to understand that her husband can love and be devoted to her but that his lost wife will always be part of who he is. — Still Grieving
Dear Annie: In regards to your response to Second Wife, I have a different take on the situation.
I had been widowed for five years when I remarried and moved into my second husband’s home. He had a wall of family pictures (kids, parents and grandparents), and there was one picture of his ex-wife and their children.
Before we were married, he told me who was in each picture. When he came to that picture, he said, “It’s not there because I still love her, but because it is part of my and my children’s lives.”
After we married, he rummaged through my things until he found a picture of my late husband. He then went and put that picture on the wall because it was part of my life. When people come over and ask about the pictures, he always tells them that is my late husband.
We loved each other dearly, and they are only pictures. — Grieving with Grace
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]