Chana

There are no technicalities or marriages that "count" more than others. You are perfectly within your rights to have a second wedding and to make it as big (or small) as you like, and to invite whomever you wish.

The people who love you won't care that it's not your first wedding.

People who love you just want to see you happy. Go with the choice that you don't think you'd regret 40 years from now. And don't let people bully you.

My view is that one has to focus on the admirable or worthwhile aspects of a person in order to avoid developing a runaway attitude problem which can lead to dislike or hatred. It is often easier to dislike than to find positive qualities.

I was lucky to find a father of two, with two failed relationships behind him, after two similar trainwrecks of my own. So I feel you are not beyond hope at all; while the innocence of youth may not return, yet there is much more to be savoured.

Chana

My wedding was beautiful and it was an amazing event to share with my husband, but it was a sad spot to not have a big social group there. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not a terribly social person and prefer to have a couple of close friends only.

The wedding was literally the only time it bothered me, and that night was about us committing to each other. It's easy to get caught up in the party and having a row of lovely friends as bridesmaids, and tables of college friends reminiscing about your past, and photos of a big crowd celebrating.

You'll remember your wedding as being a really intimate event with people very close to you, and it will be awesome.

Basically, his family was just closer (both geographically and in tightness) and he grew up with 6 of his cousins in the city where we got married. My extended family was more spread out and in somewhat less favorable financial position. But I honestly was never that close to any of them.

And his cousins have always been wonderful to me.

Even now remarried.

Here is what I learned. Don't worry about it too much....I know you feel kind of left out, since you won't have any to invite, but look on the bright side:

  • Less guests = cheaper wedding! You still have your family to accommodate, and weddings by themselves are expensive enough. I don't have many friends myself and doubt I'll be inviting them to my wedding....my family is too huge, it would bankrupt me. I also want to eliminate all of the bridesmaids except the maid of honor, who would be my sister. With less guests, you'll save on EVERYTHING all around....less invitations to make, smaller reception costs, you won't have to deal with picking dresses for bridesmaids that look good on everyone, don't have to buy them flowers for the aisle, etc.
  • Less guests = less drama; especially if you are worried that inviting non-close friends would lead them to feel awkward or judge you. You don't need that at your wedding! Weddings are stressful enough without that shit. You'll be much happier with the more intimate affair of people whom you truly like having around.
Chana

I've thought about this question quite a lot.

I sometimes think that marriage is a sort of practice ground for the sort of love that we ought to have for every human being that we meet. But having that sort of love, compassion, trust, and devotion for everyone...well, that's pretty darn impossible, at least for us earthly human beings.

So we pick one person to devote ourselves to, one person to practice that all-consuming, all-encompassing love that sees another through sickness and health, life and death.

I suspect that all of those memories of building that love together, all of that joy that you found in each other, and all of that happiness that you had in learning how to love one another...that'll all be there when you get to heaven. It's just that, instead of being focused inward on just the two of you, all of that joy and love will also be turned outward so that you can share that love with everyone. You know those couples who alienate the rest of their friends and just make goo-goo eyes at one another and sort of create this wall around just the two of them? That's not the sort of love that's raised up again in heaven. But how about those couples who just seem to breath love and life into everyone they meet; they're the glue that holds large friend groups together, that welcomes strangers into their homes, that make others feel included and loved without ever needing to go around flaunting their married status----that's the sort of marriage that's heaven bound, I think.

In the bible story, I think Jesus was shooting down the question of ownership and belonging (especially considering the time period he spoke in. The Saduccees basically wanted to know who got to lay claim to the woman. They never brought love into the equation). In a heavenly community, people simply aren't worried about who belongs to who....I think he means that we'll all be so caught up in the joy of that new life that whether some woman belongs to this man or that man won't be an issue.

I don't know if any of that makes sense but, basically: it's not like heaven would erase the fact that you spent a lifetime building a love between you and your spouse. It's just that "who belongs to who" won't be an issue any longer.

I married my soulmate.

They were a wonderful person that is completely irreplaceable. I'm learning that I have to create a new life now. To me that means I will still find another wonderful woman and love them, not as a replacement, but as someone completely different. I think that I will probably end up with a widow as they will most likely understand and know what I've been through.

Chana

The role of a step parent in the life of a child after the parent dies is an area where there is little remedy, much to the unhappiness of some step-parents and step-children who have built a relationship with each other only to find that relationship goes largely unrecognized by courts.

In most cases when one of divorced parents dies, the remaining parent assumes full custody of the child or children and the opportunity for the widowed step parent to see the children depends on the willingness of the remaining parent (which is obviously complicated, even in amicable divorces).

But there are legal ways around it.

Need to take your stepchild to the doctor? Have both parents sign a form. File it with the doctor, and carry one on you. Keep in mind that no emergency department will refuse treatment to a child just because their parents aren't there. Just check the doctor's policy first. My stepson has one doctor that requires a new note signed by one parent for every visit, specifying the date.

You can sign some things for the school, like that you reviewed homework or an exam or something. Anyone can do that. It's not a legal document. But if it's a class trip or some other legal form, just have your spouse sign it.

You can't sign releases for sports or things like that, but after the initial one is signed, send in another letter allowing others to act in the event that a parent cannot be contacted.

Schools usually have spaces where a parent can designate others to pick up their kid or receive information. Make sure your name is on that form.

Between grandparents and stepparents, there are plenty of people who are the primary caregivers of children who are not legally theirs.

I'm the primary caregiver to my stepson.

Wednesday, I have to take him for an eye exam. I have a form signed by both his parents allowing me to bring him in for a regular check-up. They'll check his vision, but if they wanted to advise something extra (like dilation or something), they wouldn't let me authorize it. He also has baseball twice this week. I didn't sign the waiver for participation (that was my husband), but there's nothing illegal about being the one who brings him to practice.

Of course, this is a lot easier considering that all three of us are on the same page about this. If we need both parents' signatures, it's not a problem.

Chana

Narcissists are great at faking the love-bombing, whirlwind romances of the initial stages of a relationship. Of course, that idealized phase only lasts so long and never returns.

If you're desiring or even craving that drug-like experience, you're much more vulnerable to narcissists, because you'll respond positively (and uncritically) to this wooing behavior (which is fake). Remember the "just say no" campaign in the 80's? Learn as much as you can about narcissistic manipulation and seduction, and when you see the signs "just say no" to the drug (spot these signs early).

Read: Human Magnet Syndrome

I think it could be very relevant for you, about why you keep picking people who hurt you. Made me look at my in laws differently too.

It's tough when friends and seemingly everyone on social media appear to be caught up in idealized love, it hurts most when we measure the gap between what we've experienced and what we're currently experiencing versus what we see in others' lives (however filtered and image-crafted that may be in itself).

It is a phase, the honeymoon period inevitably ends for all. Choose your lovers wisely, be good to yourself and your precious family. Stay positive. You're definitely not too old to find love, but it helps to get "off the subject" and avoid torturing yourself during your transition and healing process - don't worry about what you feel you don't have in the moment.

As you get older, the pool gets more shallow, but it doesn't dry up totally. I think you DO have to accept that you're shopping for used cars and any car you settle on might have a few dents. You're just trying to find one that hasn't been in a major accident.

You didn't say how old your second husband is?

This is going to sound very silly and shallow, but I honestly think the ticket is to date men slightly older than you. Like set your age range on dating sites to 45-55 and see what happens. Guys are super shallow: If it looks like a princess to us, we tend to treat it like a princess. And women treated like princesses are more apt to treat their husband like a prince. I honestly think that if both spouses wake up every day committed to trying to preserve the newlywed feeling, you can have an incredible relationship.