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A Second Wife’s Journey of Healing

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
March 26, 2021 2:00 am

A Second Wife’s Journey of Healing

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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March 26, 2021 2:00 am

Today on the broadcast, Ron Deal and Lore Ferguson Wilbert discuss the healing journey she's experienced as her husband's second wife. She suggests adopting a heart of compassion instead of competition.

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Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

Part of what makes a second marriage work is for husbands and wives to recognize there were patterns present in your first marriage that may need to be addressed, need to be corrected. Laurie Ferguson Wilbert says both she and her husband are realizing that. In his previous marriage, he was very passive, and he did not take leadership, and he will admit that freely. He would say that now if he was sitting here.

And so when I criticize his leadership in even small ways, what that's doing is sort of tamping down that little sprout of leadership, and I need to water it and give it sunshine instead of crush it. This is Family Life Today. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

I'm Bob Lapine. You can find us online at As we'll hear today from Laurie Ferguson Wilbert, it takes a lot of grace, a lot of humility, a lot of wisdom and maturity for a second marriage to work well. Stay with us. And welcome to Family Life Today.

Thanks for joining us. One of the things you guys have often talked to couples about is how when we start marriage, we bring unopened suitcases into the marriage with us, right? A whole bunch of them. And we think we've opened most of them, but we get there and we go, oh, I forgot about this one.

I forgot about that one. There are all kinds of surprises that come along later. Yeah, I think in some ways that's the beauty of marriage. I mean, it's really, really difficult, but you get to open wounds and things you've carried. I mean, there's moments where you look at your spouse and you're like, what is that? And they're like, what are you talking about? This is who I am.

Well, we don't even know. I'm realizing it's something you've carried into that's harmful. And it seems like sometimes a marriage can bring out and up some of those things in our past. And all of us have got those suitcases from our childhood, from relationships we had in high school or in college or whatever has gone on. You get into a second marriage and there's a whole new set of luggage that comes with that because now you're bringing in, I've done this before.

I've been married before. And that's what we're focusing on today. In fact, we're going to be listening to excerpts from an interview that our friend Ron Deal did with Laurie Ferguson Wilbert. Laurie had written an article for Fathom magazine called Second Wife, Second Life, where she just got really honest about the challenges of dealing with the fact that she was number two and that there had been a number one. And that meant there's a whole lot of there's just a whole lot of expectation.

There's a whole lot of adjustment. There's a whole lot of reality that's got to be dealt with. So Ron reached out to her and for his podcast, Family Life Blended, he interviewed her and they peeled back the layers that a lot of second husbands and second wives have got to deal with. Let's listen to a part of that conversation. Let me ask a question.

I don't know, out of the blue. What's your relationship with his first wife? And what I mean by that is, even if it's just your internal dialogue, how do you posture yourself in your mind? Maybe you've never met her, never had a conversation, but there's still a relationship there. How would you describe that? Yeah, I think that, again, that has changed over time. I think in the beginning, I felt more insecure in relation to her. She was a bigger personality.

She was, you know, would go out more and more extroverted, enjoyed different things that I enjoyed. So I felt inferior to her and insecure. I think the more time has gone on, my heart has just become more broken for the choices that she made and the damage that happened there and the way that she placed, you know, other gods before God in her life.

And I just lament that. Now I'm in a place where I'm careful to make sure that I don't think that Nate, necessarily my husband, needs to be praying for her and thinking of her often. But I've just taken the posture that whenever she comes to mind, which sometimes in some seasons is often and then in other seasons is not at all. Whenever she comes to mind, I just try to pray for her and just ask the Lord to be near to her. Because I think that there's something broken in her that needs to be healed, that the Lord wants to heal.

And so I'm just going to pray for that. So I think for me, my posture has come from just an insecurity to now I'm able to pray for her with, I think, more open hands. But I don't, again, we don't have children and I think that adds an element to marriage and second marriages that I think complicates things in some really beautiful ways and some really difficult ways. So she's not in my life in the sense that she's there.

But yeah, I hear what you say about we still do have a relationship in a sense. So I just want to make sure that that relationship is honoring the Lord and honoring my husband. We do not disparage her or speak badly of her in our home to one another. I'm really careful to make sure I don't pit her against me in conflicts that we might be having or throw something in his face about their marriage because that is not caring for him.

That might make me feel better for a minute, but that isn't ultimately caring for him or honoring to God. You know, one of the things I want to talk to the listener for a minute who maybe does have stepchildren and is in a complex situation where kids are moving between homes and you do have interaction on a regular basis with the other household, your spouse's former spouse. It's easy to have a relationship there that's parental but then crosses over into the, you know, what was and what happened and what's ongoing, you know, because of how the other person acts or behaves or what they bring to the equation through the children, that sort of stuff. There's always there a relationship, meaning just as Laurie has talked about, whether it's real or imagined, you have this internal dialogue with that other person and checking your dialogue I think is really important because if your dialogue to yourself about them are things like, oh, they're such a horrible person. You just throw them into that category constantly or they're the competition or somehow not helpful to the children, the enemy, whatever, that just makes it really difficult for you to pray for them, to honor them, you know, in front of the children. And you just might find yourself slipping down those roads where you're bringing up old negative stuff and seeing negative things and that just supports that internal dialogue. So, you know, I would say as Laurie has done, try to check that and keep that in a place where if what you're thinking in your head was said out loud and the other person were to hear it, that you would not be horribly embarrassed by what they just heard. I think too, I so agree with that and I think, so I just want to, for the listener who might not know, I'm a child of divorce and it was a very, very messy, very long drawn out, lawyers on both sides said this is one of the messiest divorces we've ever walked through.

I'm glad you brought this up. It was actually my next question was to ask you about this because I could tell from your blog that there were things that you see in your husband because of his divorce that reminded you of something out of your family. Yeah, I think I, you know, so I was 20 when my parents divorce began and I have a large family and so younger siblings who were caught in that custody battle for about 12 years. It was nasty, nasty, nasty across state lines, and I had to navigate that as an adult, watching my younger siblings be torn back and forth between these, my warring parents, I had to watch that as an adult, sort of interacting with both of my parents as adults and learning to verbalize, hey, that's painful when you do that or that's not helpful or just as an adult, like, let's be mature around this. And so it started out giving me a lot of anger toward divorce, I had a lot of, I would say a lot of baggage around divorce. And I think the more time went on the more empathy rose up in me, not just for my own parents, but I think for any adult who has to walk through the pain of divorce and so I think by the time I met my husband when I was 34.

I had more empathy just for him and for his story than I think I would have had as a 20, 25 year old, still caught in the middle of these warring parties. You say in your blog, you hate divorce. You know what happened to your family obviously was detrimental and difficult for you. You had a 12 year custody battle so you had siblings and they were caught in the middle of all of that and you saw, it sounds like you kind of saw the worst come out. It was, I mean I don't want to overstate it and I want to not be hyperbolic but it was, and I've walked through some really difficult things in life. It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever walked through and I know that divorce doesn't have to be like that.

I know that if you've got two people who are endeavoring to honor one another in that process it can be, it can look really different, but it didn't look that way for my family. And so, yeah, it was, I would say it was one of the most formative things for my life forming me and how I saw the Lord and how I saw marriage. I mean I was terrified of marriage. I was terrified that marriage was going to be abusive and dishonoring and full of fights and anger. And the Lord in his grace did not give me a marriage like that, but I was, I carried that terror around for years. And I'm thankful that he didn't bring that into your life in this new marriage. I'm wondering if you had any hesitations though when you met your husband and started dating and you knew his story at some point and did you have any sort of black and white, well I can't be with you then? I didn't.

And I think it's okay if someone does have those feelings and needs to kind of work through them with the Lord and with good leadership around them. I didn't because I knew many of his close friends. I knew the pastors and elders he had walked through his divorce with from our church. I was very close to those people. And so I knew that his character was what it is.

But I knew that because other people vouched for his character. It's very helpful and that's a wise thing to do. I think it's necessary in these things. I think it's necessary no matter who you marry. I think it should be a part of that process of getting to know someone. But yeah, I'm just really grateful that I didn't have those concerns kind of coming along as baggage.

Let me break in here. We're listening to a portion of a conversation that Ron Deal, the head of Family Life Blended, had with Laurie Ferguson Wilbert about the reality of being a second wife or a second husband in a marriage. And that point about doing a little bit of a background check and having others who can vouch for the character.

She was right. That matters whether it's a first marriage, a second marriage. Don't just allow your own blinded infatuation to carry you through this. If you've got friends or family members who are throwing up red flags about the relationship, you need to pay attention to those. And if you don't have people who are throwing in the red flags, ask your friends.

Is there anything you think I'm missing here? Yeah, I think it's critical whether it's going into a second marriage or going into your first marriage. What do the people that are the friends of the person you're going to marry say? I know that I dated a girl for four years from high school through college. We were going to get married. This is my junior year. A year from now, I'm going to graduate.

We're getting married. And I cannot tell you the number of people who at random times would walk up to me and say, hey, you really don't know her. And I just blew it off. I mean, one of them was her sister, which I should have been listening to.

One was my mom. And of course, I'm like, what's my mom know? But as I look back, I realized they all were trying to tell me something I couldn't see.

And I wasn't listening. I think it's a little bit like wearing sunglasses. You see the person and you think you know everything, but there are parts that you don't. And so to ask someone else can be a really wise move.

But let me ask you this. If you're going into a second marriage, would you ask a former wife about her husband that you're engaged to? You know, I think that's so dependent on all of the dynamics of how the breakup happened and what the level of anger or hostility in all of that is. Because she may have nothing nice to say. And I don't think you're you just have to recognize if you're going to ask that question, you're going to get a subjective answer.

And you have to filter that through whatever wounds or pain led them to where they are. I think I might ask, but I don't know that I would necessarily take the answer as being, well, this is for real or for sure. I'd be more likely to ask other family members, people at church.

That's where I'd go. I'd go to the people who know that other person on a spiritual level who watched what their walk with Jesus looks like. And they can comment on that. And as hard as it is, you want honesty. You really want to know. At the end of the day, their walk with Jesus is going to be the key thing to the success of that new relationship, right?

Absolutely. We want to continue hearing an excerpt from Ron's conversation with Laurie Ferguson Wilbert. Let me just say Ron's going to be hosting an event here in about four weeks called Blended and Blessed. This is an annual event that we do at Family Life that is the premier event for couples who are in second marriages, couples who are in blended families, couples who are looking for help for their relationship. They just want to strengthen the relationship that they're in today.

You can go online to find out more about the Blended and Blessed. It's an online event this year. People are going to be watching from all around the world. Some couples will watch on their own. Other couples will get together with other couples. There are churches that will be hosting this event. Again, go to for more information about Blended and Blessed. It's coming up four weeks from this weekend.

That's April 24th. And the information is available online at So let's pick up the conversation. This again is Ron Deal with Laurie Ferguson Wilbert talking about the dynamics of being a second wife. Laurie, I want to go back to something we were talking about earlier. We were talking about the wounds that your husband has from his previous relationship. You say in your blog, the wounds of a former spouse can be deep and raw, and a mere misstep of the second spouse, that would be you, can be wildly more painful than we knew.

Tell me about a time when you inadvertently stepped on something raw and painful, and what did you learn from it? Yeah, so I'll give you an example from this morning if I can. Hey, relevant to today. That's great. Yeah, so we're navigating life in this pandemic season, and we're just trying to figure out some new rhythms in our home and some new normal. He's not normally here in the morning, but he's been here the past seven weeks. He's been here, and so that's a new thing for me.

I usually work from home, and I'm by myself. And so we are trying to figure out a new morning prayer rhythm. Like I said, he's a morning person.

I'm not. I take a little bit longer to wake up. And this morning, he's trying to sort of implement some family prayer for us. And he mentioned it last week, and I said, go for it. Like, please, you lead that.

I'm still groggy and waking up in the morning, but if you want to take the reins on that. And so he was, and he's been doing that the past couple of days. And it was confusing. A part of it was confusing to me. And so this morning, he said, well, why don't you take leadership on this?

And I was like, no, I want you to do it. And he's like, well, I've been doing it the past couple of days, and you fussed at me for a couple of days. And I realized, like, what's going on there is I had not explained to him that it would be helpful for me to understand, like, the bigger picture of what he's thinking in this, the details of the morning. And when he explained that, it was helpful. But what I realized was, like, in his previous marriage, he was very passive, and he did not take leadership. And he will admit that freely. He would say that now if he was sitting here. And so when I criticize his leadership in even small ways, what that's doing is sort of tamping down that little sprout of leadership.

Deflates whatever area you pressed in, and now it's just kind of pushed out. Yeah, and he really is a good leader. I mean, he's such a good leader at work and in the church and in our marriage. But in those moments where I've specifically said, hey, would you take leadership in this?

And then I come in and say, well, why aren't we doing it this way? I am aware that that thing right there because of how poorly he led, how much she criticized and wounded him for his leadership in their marriage, that that is a really tender, tender thing. So I have to be so careful not to handle with him with kid's gloves.

He's a grown man in his 40s. He knows he's loved by God. But I have to remember in those moments, like, God is bringing something to life and I need to be careful around how I speak about it.

And I need to water it and give it sunshine instead of crush it under sort of a deluge of whatever I'm thinking at the moment. I think this is a great example to the listener. I would say this is a great example of, you know, in any marriage relationship for men to venture out and try to lead their wives in a spiritual direction in a way that enhances and encourages the marriage and the us-ness of the couple. And then to have that criticized, that's really deflating for men. You know, we really don't want to be a failure or inadequate.

That's a huge Achilles for us. And so in any relationship, that's deflating. When that may have been a real source of contention in a previous marriage relationship, you're right.

There's an added depth to a bruise there that is so tender and easily pressed. And so for you to be aware of that, to recognize, wow, I really got to put some self-control on when it comes to these moments. And it's an ongoing learning experience, right? Yeah.

I mean, you've stepped on this before and it happened again today, right? I mean, that's life. We recognize and we work on it. We recognize and we work on it.

Yeah, I think that's so good. I'm so glad you said that because, you know, we have a big blow up about something. We have conflict around something and it gets ironed out and worked through and we think, okay, now I get it. We're never going to have to deal with that again.

I wish. Yeah, that's just not the way that like humans work. We have to come again and again and again to the same things and make sure that we're repenting often and naming our sin often, our specific sin against another often and not being general. And that's just an ongoing process. It's like peeling an onion in a lot of ways. We're just constantly peeling back those layers again and again to get to the root of what God wants to heal. And it does get easier. I mean, the more we invite the spirit in and the more discipline we apply to ourselves with time, we do shift those patterns and behaviors and it does get easier. But even from a neurological standpoint, literally, you got to rewire your brain sometimes. And that just takes time.

So cut yourself a break. Yeah, it does take time. And it also it takes another person to help rewire our brains. We can't just do that by ourselves. And so if we're with someone with whom that conflict just keeps coming up again and again and again, and we're not able to to seek healing or have a good conversation about it, it might be time to bring in a third person who is going to help sort of do the work of rewiring brain networks and neural pathways and all those things.

Yeah. So that might be a counselor or a coach or a pastor, somebody who's really, depending on the depth of the problem, somebody who's really trained a therapist to lead you through that. Well, Laurie, I want to I want to come full circle to some of the themes that we started with and just wrap it up by, again, giving back to you some of the words in this really insightful blog that you wrote called Second Wife, Second Life. You say that even though you are his second wife in the blog, you say this is still his and your first life.

Yeah, you're the second wife, but this is your first life, your first and only life, you said, and that your one aim is to be found faithful within it. How does being found faithful help when you feel second? Well, I think remembering I am not second to God, I'm not an afterthought to God. And so rooting my identity in the Lord, knowing that I was perfectly formed by him for this life. And so that includes for me, 34 years of singleness and now five years of marriage with with my husband and whatever the future might hold.

I don't know what the future holds. And so the Lord has only given me one life and the Lord has crafted me for this life. And so so not thinking of myself as second in that way to the Lord. And then I think I think it's just a process. You know, I don't think that anyone does this perfectly. I think we we are all navigating life differently with the faith that we have and the story that we have and the insight that we have.

And and so I think it just it looks different for everyone. And we have to give ourselves a lot of patience and give the other a lot of patience and walk by the Spirit. What you just said, I think would be really good advice to somebody who is really struggling with being second. But is there anything else that you might add to that?

Somebody who's really wrestling with? Yeah, I really want to be first, but I'm not his first. Yeah, I think it's just so helpful for me to remember that today I am his first. And today I'm I'm the choice that he has made to love and honor and walk with and sickness and health and in all those things.

And so that helps me just to keep my eyes on today, on what I can do today and not be thinking about all that's come in the past, whether that's a first marriage or whether it's just a history of a sexual past or an emotional past that someone has. It just helps me to remember that God's doing something new today. He's doing something new in our marriage today. He's doing something new in the world today. He's doing something new in the church today. And I get to be a part of that today. That helps me to feel less like second best or second hand or plan B. I'm not plan B to God and I'm not plan B for my husband in God's eyes. Well, we've been listening again to a conversation Ron Deal had with Laurie Ferguson Wilbert.

And she's talking. I keep thinking about one of my favorite verses in scripture from Isaiah, where Isaiah says that God brings beauty from ashes. And Ron Deal has often said every second marriage, every blended family, these are born out of loss. Whether it's the death of a spouse or a divorce, whatever it is, you're coming from a place of loss. There are ashes at your feet. And God says, watch what I can do with these ashes. I can make something beautiful out of this. I love what she said in her blog when she said, this is still your first and only life.

And when I've talked to engage women whose fiance has a past and a lot of times even a sexual past, I'll say, but there's no one else in the entire universe like you. Right. This is all new. But that's not always easy to remember in the moment. Yeah. And she said it so well at the end. It's like this is my first life right now. It's like you're living in the moment. And I think sort of one of the lies of the enemy is to take us into the past and sort of have us live there when it's the past.

It was hurtful, but it's gone and it's done and we have to go to the future. But more importantly, live right here. I am her husband. She is my wife right here, right now.

And that's all that really matters. You need to hear these things, not just once. You need to hear them over and over again. That's why people subscribe to Ron Deal's Family Life Blended podcast so they can listen to new episodes and they can go back and listen again to episodes that really spoke to them. There's information on our website at about how you can subscribe to the podcast as well. It's why people are going to be joining us on Saturday, April 24th, for the one-day livestream event called Blended and Blessed, our annual event to help strengthen couples who are in blended marriages, blended families. When you sign up for this event as a church, your church will have access to this content on an ongoing basis. There's more information about the one-day livestream event available on our website at Ron Deal will be giving leadership to this and will be speaking at the event along with a whole host of speakers.

Again, it's a great one-day event called Blended and Blessed. Get the information you need on our website at or call 1-800-FL-TODAY if you have any questions or we can help you get signed up for the event. Of course, speaking of the event, David Robbins, the president of Family Life, is here with us. And this event, this podcast, all that we're doing to help blended marriages and families, really part of the larger commitment that we have here at Family Life to effectively develop godly marriages and families.

Thanks, Bob. You know, the vision at Family Life has been for a very long time that we would be about every home being a godly home. Everything we do points to how do we pursue people and families and help them grow in their godliness. And that's why I'm so thankful for Ron Deal being a part of the Family Life team, helping blended families, a large subset of families in our nation with very unique challenges. It's why we're grateful for events like Blended and Blessed because many times blended families will go to marriage events at their church.

And it just seems like there's helpful things, but it doesn't always connect to their exact situation. And that's exactly what Blended and Blessed is for. It's a whole event specifically designed for the unique challenges and opportunities blended families have.

And it's coming up soon. We'd encourage you if you're part of a blended family, if you know someone who's in a blended family, if you want to minister and understand the needs of blended families, I would encourage you to sign up and pass on that information. But it's also why we develop resources like the Family Life Blended podcast. We want a place where blended families can know there's something coming for them, uniquely wired for them. So make sure to check out Ron's Family Life Blended podcast and Blended and Blessed. And again, you can go to our website, for information about the podcast and about Blended and Blessed. And with that, we've got to wrap up for this week. Thanks for joining us. Hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend. And I hope you can join us back on Monday when we're going to talk with our friends Jackie and Stefana Bledsoe about the phases that a marriage goes through and how we need to adapt and adjust when our marriage is in a new stage or in a new phase. Hope you can tune in for that. I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch.

We got some extra help this week from Bruce Goff. Of course, our entire broadcast production team is involved. On behalf of our hosts, David Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you Monday for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life of Little Rock, Arkansas, a crew ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-10 21:50:54 / 2023-12-10 22:02:47 / 12

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