17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

From the Tales Inbox: Being the Second Wife

I got married 3 weeks ago. My husband and I were not sealed in the temple, but we are planning on it in a year. My husband was divorced from his first wife but they did not get a temple divorce. I knew this going into the marriage and I told him I was fine with it. Truth is, I really thought I was. But, now that we are married, I am struggling with the fact that he is still married to his first wife. How would you feel? What should I do? Or say?

-Second Wife


  • I'm finding it difficult to comment because I am wanting for more details. WHY NO TEMPLE DIVORCE? and WHY WERE YOU FINE WITH IT?

    Is this your first marriage? Are you sealed to another as well?

    I guess, knowing the little that I know...if I wanted to be sealed to my husband, I would have insisted/begged for him to get the temple divorce before I went through with the wedding.....

    but maybe you were in love and he is an amazing guy and you just wanted to be married and now you feel stuck!? I think you should definitely be honest about your feelings in a loving and open way and try to solve it. If you don't share, it will build up and could make for the end of your marriage.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 7/17/2008 03:49:00 PM  

  • I feel for your emotional state, but by any objective standard, your husband is married to YOU. Period. After his divorce, if he were to have lived with or had 'relations' with his ex, he would have been subject to being disfellowshipped of excommunication on the grounds of fornication. As far as the church was concerned, the marriage was dissolved the moment that civil law said it was.

    Over the years, I've known many people who have struggled with the idea of sealing and what it will mean in the next life. Without getting into a treatise, I'll ask you to consider whether a kind, loving and just God would force anyone to live in an eternal family arrangement that they did not want to be in? I do not believe he would. Heavenly Father's whole plan is designed to provide eternal happiness with Him. I believe things like this will be worked out in the end with Love and wisdom.

    If you and your husband are working toward being sealed, and are also living in such a manner that that sealing would be in force, I don't thing God would deny that blessing in the afterlife if, for some unforeseen reason, you were prevented from doing so in this one .

    Enjoy your new marriage. It's no less valid than any other. In the end, when you kneel at the altar with your sweetheart, I'd imagine the occasion will be even more meaningful and sacred to you because of the work you will have done to get there.
    posted by Anonymous frequent lurker at 7/17/2008 03:50:00 PM  

  • Oops.. Disfellowshipped OR excommunicated!

    One other thing. Don't waste time or emotions over what you could have done differently (waiting, not marrying him, etc). The fact is, you're married now. To a man you most likely love with all your heart, and who loves you in the same way. Move forward, build a life together, set a date for being sealed and work toward that goal. Anything else is wasting time and emotions.
    posted by Anonymous frequent lurker at 7/17/2008 03:57:00 PM  

  • First: I too believe everything will work out satisfactorily in the hereafter but...

    Second: I would NOT be OK being second wife. I don't know why you thought you would be, but I understand why you don't now. If it is that important to you, I would say that you guys are not getting sealed until the first wife has been unsealed. (Now I refer to the first point--everything will get worked out).

    posted by Anonymous ESO at 7/17/2008 04:42:00 PM  

  • I'm assuming that you were so focused on getting married and wedding that at the time you talked yourself into thinking that the sealing wasn't important. I agree with the other comments about focusing on the future instead of play could of, would of should of about your marriage. Be honest with yourself marriage isn't as fun as you think it is when your single. Do want you can to be sealed in the temple and if it takes longer than a year stick to you. You married your man and you made the decision together don't give up on your marriage or think less of your marriage because you aren't sealed yet.
    posted by Anonymous questioning at 7/17/2008 05:08:00 PM  

  • A question first, can you get sealed to someone in the temple if they have not gotten a temple divorce from their first marriage? Is that why you would be the "second wife"? I just don't understand how that works.

    Also, does he have children with his previous wife?

    And yes, I agree that you HAVE to be honest. This isn't something you can ignore or push down inside. You have to communicate about it.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 7/17/2008 06:21:00 PM  

  • I am sorry, but I wasn't aware that there was such a thing as a "temple divorce." Just sealing cancellations and sealing clearances.

    I thought it was standard practice to leave the first wife sealed to the husband, because there are blessings that come with temple ordinances, irregardless of to whom she ultimately ends up sealed.

    Indeed, I thought that women couldn't apply for a sealing cancellation until she was planning another marriage?

    Well, I am not sure I am correct, either, but I think it does make the point that only a church leader with CHI can walk you through the process.
    posted by Anonymous Naismith at 7/17/2008 08:18:00 PM  

  • I do know how this works because my little sister is going thru the very same thing right now.

    OK... so my sister and her new husband were just married civilly. They too are both temple worthy but the process of getting a temple divorce takes quite some time. (He was married years ago.) He is getting a temple divorce and his previous wife has to sign and send in papers for the temple divorce to go thru. Although this has taken time and set back their temple sealing, they very much believe that it will be worth the wait so they are not taking a "third" party into their marriage. (I know that is not what it is, but I can only relate with what you are feeling.)

    It is not too late to start the temple divorce process before you get sealed in the temple. Is your new husband opposed to the temple divorce? If that is the case then it could really be complicated, but if he is ok with it...you can totally do it! Yes it does take extra time and work but for your own peace of mind it may be worth looking into as a couple. As mentioned in previous posts...I am sure the Lord has a plan that will bring happiness...but for here and now... I understand your concern. Our great leaders will be able to help you both and just know that there are options for you.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/17/2008 11:13:00 PM  

  • Okay, here are some things to clarify so far: "Temple Divorce" does not exist. Only a woman can request a cancellation of a sealing, and only if and when she is ready and worthy to be sealed to another man. It is a moot point for men, because men can be sealed to more than one woman, however, women can be sealed to only one man.

    When a man has been sealed, is divorced, and wants to get sealed again, it requires a clearance from the First Presidency. He, the first wife, the Bishop, and the Stake President all write letters detailing reasons for the divorce, current activity status, etc. The new wife does not need to write a letter. The First Presidency considers all sides and either grants a clearance, or tells the couple they must wait. Sometimes it is denied outright, sometimes an additional time period is given.

    My husband was divorced. Since his divorce was within the year we were married, we were advised not to ask for clearance, but to wait until we had been married a year. It was very hard, especially since rumors ran wild about why we were married in my parents home instead of at the temple. It went so far that around the 9th month, a woman whose husband was in the bishopric of my former singles ward told people that I should be having my baby any day now. I wasn't even pregnant yet.

    Anyway, that's the truth about Temple Divorce, ie, there isn't any. Talk with your husband and your Bishop about starting the clearance process. It can take some time, but it's worth it and the only way you can be sealed.
    posted by Blogger jlk at 7/18/2008 10:58:00 AM  

  • I can empathize with your situation. A big factor is whether your husband has children with his former wife.

    My parents divorced and my father has been sealed to his second wife. My mother had to write a letter agreeing to allow this. She had three choices: give permission for my dad to be sealed to someone else, refuse to give permission, or cancel her sealing to my dad. Her stake president advised her not to agree to cancel her own sealing because it would cancel her sealing to her children. My father will always be sealed to us kids no matter what. So, effectively, yes, my father is sealed to two women.

    But my point is that he is only married to one. And I refuse to spend any time thinking about how this will work out in the afterlife. No one knows.

    My mom did get a lot of comfort from her priesthood leaders. So that's my advice to you. Talk to your bishop. Your feelings are normal and a good bishop will help a lot.

    The other thing is that my first few months of marriage were quite horrible. And I understand this is true for many people. So I completely get why this issue is bothering you now. Talk to your husband, to your friends, your bishop. Find out what you can let go for now and what you need to deal with now.
    posted by Anonymous Ahna at 7/18/2008 11:27:00 AM  

  • I am going to take this a different direction than some of the other commentors. I am going to assume from your post that when you say temple divorce, you mean is a sealing cancelation. Convincing you that there is no such thing as a temple divorce seems beyond the real point of your troubles. He is still sealed to his first wife and then he will be sealed to you unless the sealing is canceled, but from what I hear, this is sometimes difficult to do.

    The church makes a big deal out of sealings. They are obviously held in higher esteem than a worldly marriage, so to say that it shouldn't matter that he is sealed to someone else because he is married to you seems a little off.

    I understand why you are bothered. I would be bothered too. Understanding all the specifics of how sealings work in the church would me bring even less comfort. And I might want to drop kick the next person that tells me "it will all work out in the eternities." There are no easy answers to this one I am afraid.

    I pray you will be able to speak honestly with your new husband and that he will be sensitive and understanding. Hopefully you have a good bishop and RS president that might help counsel you as you move toward your temple sealing too.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 7/18/2008 02:25:00 PM  

  • I agree with Carrie, on getting counsel from trusted church leaders. Do you feel close to any of your leaders? Also, be sure your husband is the first person you go to with these feelings and issues, so he isn't bombarded with "so and so says this, and so and so thinks this". Make it a conversation between you and him, where you are both open and honest to each others perspective and feelings on the matter and decide what the next step is together.

    Good luck. I hope you don't want to kick me, but I truly think things will work out for the best in the end.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 7/18/2008 03:14:00 PM  

  • *kick*
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 7/18/2008 03:16:00 PM  

  • first off thanks so much for all of your comments. There really isn't that much more detail to go into. NO i have never been sealed to anyone before and yes this is my first marriage. He as you know was married and sealed in the temple. They were divorced 5 years ago. I don't know why there was never a temple divorce... i think they were waiting for one of them to be remarried. Yes, they do have a little boy together. I guess i wasn't that concerned with his previous sealing because i thought in the scheme of things i was married to him so what was the big deal. Plus i wasn't that active in the church so it wasn't a huge priority for me. Now that i am married and we are getting our lives more focused on the gospel and building a life together it weighs heavy on my mind. I don't regret marrying him for a second but i do want the sealing to the first wife to be broken, and i want us to be sealed in a year. I guess the point of this post was to get some input of other wives so that i could know i wasn't acting crazy by wanting this.

    Also if he wasn't living his life the way that he was supposed to be.... is the sealing broken anyway? thanks.... "the second wife"
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/18/2008 03:49:00 PM  

  • I think the fact that they have a child together would weigh heavily in whether or not he would choose for the previous sealing to be broken. Will he still be sealed to his son if he is no longer sealed to his son's mother???? I would have a hard time with that if I were him. I can see where this would be difficult if you are now focusing more on the gospel that you might have been previously. I definitely think you have to pray about it. This stuff is pretty confusing.

    Good Luck - give us an update when you are able to. Thinking about you!
    posted by Blogger Beth at 7/18/2008 04:11:00 PM  

  • i just read the rest of the comments left between the time of me writing the blog (there were only 4) and me writing this last comment. so i will say thank you to everyone for clarifying that there is no temple divorce just an unsealing..... and thank you for all your comments they really helped. Does anyone know if the sealing is broken if he was living his life unworthy????

    The second wife
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/18/2008 04:26:00 PM  

  • Here is my feeling, as a second wife: A sealing is a covenant. It cannot be valid unless both sides are following it and doing their part. As far as children are concerned, they are sealed and linked to the family, and yes, that just works itself out somehow.

    As a bride of 3 weeks, I hated my husbands ex. I really wished bad things for her, and she for me. Now, 6 years later, we are friendly. She came to our house for dinner on Wednesday, just to give you an idea of the friendliness. She is not active in the church, and we are. We have been sealed, she is also married, but to a non-member. They had 2 children together, one of which died in infancy. Personally, I don't think we "live together as families" in houses and arrangements like we have here. I think it's different. But, that's a whole topic for another day.

    Second wife never means second best. It can be reall difficult sometimes, but like others have said, talk with your Bishop. Also, I recommend couples counseling. It helps a lot with baggage issues.

    Good luck!
    posted by Blogger jlk at 7/18/2008 04:50:00 PM  

  • I think you've answered Kage, but it's pretty standard not to cancel a sealing until a remarriage is taking place, and it does take quite a while to do.

    The child they have together complicates the sealing issue, so you need a leader with a handbook who can walk you through it.

    Also, if he was living unworthily, yes, he would have given up his temple blessings, but he can get them restored,

    There is much power in the sealing ordinance, and the church takes it very seriously as its "crowning ordinance."

    Not knowing your specifics other than what has been shared, I would recommend going ahead and getting sealed. It's truly an amazing experience and will give you much comfort.
    posted by Anonymous good luck! at 7/18/2008 05:27:00 PM  

  • I second jlk's comment:

    "Second wife never means second best. It can be real difficult sometimes, but like others have said, talk with your Bishop. Also, I recommend couples counseling."

    This is great advice. And, hey, I'm a little uncomfortable and wish you wouldn't refer to yourself as the second wife, even as a pseudonym on a blog. I think it's important to remember that you're the wife, no one else.

    One thing you may not have considered is how a sealing cancellation will affect the mother of his child. She may have strong objections to a sealing cancellation because it would mean she's no longer sealed to her son. If I were you, I'd want to know this kind of possibility before I encounter it.

    One last thought...I can't shake the feeling that your concerns are extremely amplified right now because your marriage is so recent. Those first few months for me were very hard. I felt terribly insecure and life was plain difficult. Fifteen years later, we're doing great. Concerns that meant nothing during our engagement became giant the day we were married. Haven't said that, I agree absolutely that I would feel very similar to you in your situation.
    posted by Anonymous Ahna at 7/18/2008 08:59:00 PM  

  • Hey... it is me... the one who convinced you to write this. I hope the things that have been said helps you out! I really think you are brave for letting the blogging world in on in your situation. I for one have learned quite a bit that I didn't know when we talked :)

    Side note, would the mom really not be sealed to her son still?
    And second wife, not her idea :)
    posted by Blogger Zinone at 7/18/2008 09:26:00 PM  

  • ahna,

    Like Zinone said, signing this "second wife" was not her idea. After hearing her story, I put that tagline in because I thought in some ways it represented a lot of her feelings at the moment. I could have deduced wrongly though. Maybe you would feel more comfortable if she was labeled "second woman my husband is sealed to"? This one seems just as troubling in my opinion. Once again, I am shooting a little in the dark, but it seems the anonymous writer is more uncomfortable as she looks to her eternity, not necessarily at her marriage right now.

    Really, we know so little about the sealing ordinance. While more understanding would be nice, I think most of the time we just need to ask God to bring us comfort with the understanding we already have.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 7/18/2008 10:34:00 PM  

  • Okay. I'm glad to know "second wife" wasn't the anonymous poster's idea.

    And yes, we know very little about the sealing ordinance. This is why I feel we just have to trust God. If He is good and wants us to be happy, which I believe, then everything will work out.

    Now, please don't kick me. :)
    posted by Anonymous Ahna at 7/18/2008 11:24:00 PM  

  • Just a thought, would you feel any different or the same if the first wife had died leaving him a widower?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/19/2008 08:45:00 AM  

  • To echo what has been said--a temple clearance will be given to a man who was married in the temple and would like to marry in the temple again. This does not cancel the first sealing. The first sealing is only canceled if the first wife is going to be remarried in the temple.

    From my own experience, my father and mother were married in the temple. My parents divorced, and my father later married a very kind woman who had also been married before in the temple. My father and step-mother were married in the temple several years later--my father was given a clearance and my step-mother's sealing was canceled.

    Being married myself, I can't imagine how it would feel to have my husband sealed to someone else...but I have always learned that even if you make covenants in the temple, they have to be ratified by the holy spirit of promise (D&C 132)--meaning that you have to keep the covenants in order to receive the blessings that you are promised. I believe in a kind and just God that wants us to be happy, and I have to think that things will work out or that maybe we won't feel quite the same way once we are dead.

    At the same time, I know how it felt to be a child of parents in this situation. I know how much it hurt my step-brother and sisters to have their parents' sealing canceled, and that it was confusing for me and my brothers to think about my dad being sealed to both my step-mother and mom. I realize that your step-child is probably very young, but if there is anything I could offer in addition I am really grateful for how sensitive my step-mother was to us as they were going through this whole process...

    Good luck, and I hope that you are able to find the answers you need to feel better.
    posted by Anonymous purple turtle at 7/19/2008 09:08:00 AM  

  • Please remember that the sealing covenant means something more than marriage. If you don't believe that it means something more, why bother?
    It isn't a status symbol. It isn't just a cool place to get married. It isn't just fancy wording where you stick in "forever."
    Pres. Hinkley would personally go through the sealing cancellations and approve them. Have some sympathy for this task that the prophet of God had to oversee. He actually had to act for the Lord and "undo" these special covenant ceremonies that the Lord has given us.
    We have been given families here on earth. Almost all of us with any faith know that there is no way God would give us children to give birth to and raise and spouses to love all our lives.....only for them to mean nothing to us in the next life. We know deep inside that there are some bonds we form as mortals that must continue on in eternity.
    We have the sealing ceremony that has been revealed to us.
    We do have some questions about the what ifs....what if you don't want to be sealed anymore....what if you are a widow and remarry....
    My advice is to not sweat the details too much.
    1. Decide that if you believe that being sealed will be an added bond between you and each other and the Lord (I believe this) then do it.
    2. Be very sensitive to the ex-wife and your step-child and even your husband's feelings about this. She took it seriously when she married and her child will take it seriously. You should not be trying to break an already broken family. The fact is she will always be the mother of your husband's child. He will always be the father of her child. You can't change that. It may take a lot of prayer or counseling or time or perspective for you to truly be at peace with your husband's other relationships. Step-parenting requires a lot of work, but people manage to do it if they work at being loving and understanding. He is married to you! Maybe you can find out how to truly accept this part of your life and your marriage. Perhaps your unease and insecurity about it is being focused on the "sealing."
    3. A sealing is supposed to be eternal. You may just have to way until "eternity" before it gets figured out.
    4. When people don't live up to their covenants, some say their sealing is not in effect. The president of the church hasn't cancelled it officially, but they don't really reap the blessings of it. But please don't rub that in, for your step-child's sake. The point is that you are a family. In your situation, I would teach my kids that God loves us and we are a family, so even though we aren't sure of everything, we know that we will know and love each other even after we die. Emphasize that.
    Good luck to you. Marriage is difficult. It requires a lot of "work." Work like being unselfish, like setting goals of what kind of relationship you want and acting accordingly. Of being unselfish rather than insisting on your way. Of deciding what is and isn't important. Of deciding what is worth fighting about, and what isn't. What is worth being hurt over, and what isn't.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/19/2008 11:02:00 PM  

  • I just want to say that when a sealing is cancelled it does not mean that the children are no longer sealed to the mother(or the father)
    When my parent's sealing was cancelled we (the children) were given a copy of a letter from the 1st Presidency that said our sealing to our parents was still intact, though they were no longer sealed to each other.

    An important point, I think.
    Ahna's mom was given incorrect info from her stake pres.
    posted by Anonymous Karen at 7/20/2008 08:25:00 AM  

  • Karen...That's really interesting. Thanks for sharing that. I'm going to have think. Most of the info I have about my parents' divorce and my dad's second sealing comes from my mother's cryptic comments, not a particularly trustworthy source.

    In fact, I assumed for six years that my parents had received a sealing cancellation. Just last month I learned this wasn't true.

    Thanks again for sharing that.
    posted by Anonymous Ahna at 7/20/2008 09:09:00 AM  

  • karen, that is what I understand as well. The way it was put to me was that I still receive the blessings of being born in the covenant...and I focus on that, as opposed to which parents I am sealed to. I am still sealed to my biological father, and I would rather be sealed to my adoptive father. That's a whole other kettle of fish that after some research I fear I will not be able to work out....and I am with TFTC about the kicking....that answer doesn't work for me very well....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 7/20/2008 04:51:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger LJ at 7/27/2008 08:33:00 AM  

  • Sorry, I accidentally posted this twice...

    First of all, just to clear things up: a temple divorce is NOT possible (it is actually a huge process of paperwork, interviews with a bishop and stake president, and a permission letter from the church presidency- I know- I did the process myself 4 years ago) UNTIL the ex-husband or ex-wife desires to marry again in the temple AFTER being married to ANOTHER spouse. Children or not. That is the process required by the Church.

    Anon, I feel for you. There have been many insightful comments so far, and I hope you'll be able to talk to your bishop about your feelings. He is the one who can give you direct and inspired counsel.

    Karen's comment was right on. Children STILL have the sealing blessings when their parent's sealing is broken. Period. The Lord does not punish their eternal blessings because of the parents' divorce. Your husband should request a temple divorce as soon as he is ready, so he can work towards being sealed to you in the temple. There is no reason why their temple sealing should still be now that you and your new husband are married. I'm sure that his ex will want to do the same when she remarries and wants to be sealed in the temple.

    I was divorced at age twenty with a baby boy one year after my husband and I were married in the temple. We were divorced civilly, but we were required to wait for a temple divorce until one of us desired to be sealed to another spouse in the future. One year later, I met my wonderful husband of now six years and we married outside of the temple because of my previous temple sealing. (That actually was pretty special- our two one year olds from our other marriages were the ring barriers and my dad walked me down the aisle! Can't do that in the temple!) :) We worked with our bishop for another year towards a temple sealing of our own, and as soon as we received the letter for the Church Presidency as a cancellation of my previous temple sealing, we were given permission to be sealed together for ourselves and our future children (we now have two more of our own). It was a WONDERFUL day and so many blessings were brought into our lives because of it.

    I would talk with your husband and bishop and work towards the goal of a temple sealing between you two as soon as possible. If his ex doesn't agree, then your husband can be sealed to you also. In the eternities, he won't be sealed to her anyway (even if she refuses) because their earthly marriage was ended. So that shouldn't even be a concern. The blessings of a temple sealing in a second marriage are amazing and I truly hope that you can experience it someday!

    Sorry this comment is so long, but having been through this experience myself, I know how emotionally challenging the process can be (and how kicking someone that tells you not to worry because it will all work out eternally is very tempting! :) ). Best of luck!
    posted by Blogger LJ at 7/27/2008 08:39:00 AM  

  • I have heard some people explain a "sealing" as being sealed to a promise, not necessarily to each other. This makes sense in a situation such as yours, or others who have experienced divorce, have children from more than one partner, etc. While it isn't an issue for me, personally, I have friends and family members who have gone through it and I have faith that there are just some things we don't have figured out here on Earth that Heavenly Father has all worked out. We just aren't privy to the hows and whys right now.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/27/2008 11:39:00 PM  

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