Marriage Interview 16: Ex-Wife and Widow Issues

Kristi and Mark met on an airplane 15 years ago. They’ve been married for 11 years.

Kristi’s first husband died young from cancer. It had been five years since his death, and Kristi’s family and friends were encouraging her to explore the possibility of another relationship.

Mark was separated and in the process of divorce from his wife of many years; they had adult children at that time. Nonetheless, Mark’s x-wife told their children negative things about their father repeatedly. It was made known to the former couple’s friends that they were either her friends, or they would be cut off.

Kristi and Mark sat next to each other on the plane and got to talking. They lived near one another. Mark asked Kristi out for dinner. They hit it off and starting spending time together. Soon enough, Mark’s x-wife got wind that he was seeing someone and decided she wanted him back. Mark waffled.

Kristi made a nice home-cooked meal so she could tell Mark that she didn’t want to see him anymore; the up and down of a relationship that might not be truly over wasn’t for Kristi. After two weeks of being broken up, Mark realized he was truly done with his x-wife and approached Kristi to try again. She agreed.

There were a few major issues they had to deal with: By this time Mark just wanted his divorce finalized, and so he agreed to let her have the bulk of their assets. Additionally, he paid a huge amount of alimony for seven years, to the point where he had to be careful financially for himself and Kristi. Another issue was that his kids had been turned against him, and while today things are better with his kids, there are still scars. Kristi had trust issues after having been widowed at such a young age. There is an age difference between of about 12 years between them.

They went to couple counseling for a while to deal with these issues. Coming out the other end of counseling, they were resolute that their top priority is each other.

Now they have designated “end of the bed” talking time. When one of them sits at the end of their bed, it’s a signal to the other that there is an important topic to discuss. The other joins their partner, sitting together, listening, no yelling or arguing. Each is open to the influence and concerns of the other.

They have come through their struggles, even though they see things differently at times. Now they are able to feel safe and secure in their marriage. This allows them the ability to enjoy life together, travel, ski, sit with a glass of wine overlooking Lake Tahoe, and do whatever it takes to keep their commitment to care for one another.