I Don’t Love My Second Husband Like I Loved My First — But That's Why It Works

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I Don’t Love My Second Husband Like I Loved My First — But That's Why It Works

When I got married the first time, I thought love was something that “fixed” people.

I thought the nature of true love was to be all-consuming, overflowing with intensity, and ripe with full-bodied passion.

Those elements can definitely be tantalizing. But it’s also very hard to maintain a good marriage and long-lasting relationship to that compelling degree on a constant basis.

My first marriage had all the intensity in the world. Love meant something completely different in my first marriage than it means now in my second. 

Love in my first marriage meant great sexual chemistry, unhealthy co-dependency, and drama-filled arguments. It also meant forgiving abuse over and over again.

When a relationship is always on fire there’s not much room for healthy communication, healing, or for productive progress that can be made between two people.

RELATED: I Refuse To Marry A Second Time, No Matter How In Love I Am

Being in my early 20s when I was first married certainly gave me a bit of a pass for not knowing the fundamentals of navigating a healthy relationship but it didn’t save me from having to learn the hard way about what real love looks and feels like.

You don’t need a bonfire of ecstatic, end-of-the-world passion to have a happy relationship or marriage. You simply need someone who wants to be with you, wants the best for you, and who wants to be their best selves because of you. And vice versa, of course.

I love my second husband like a person, not as an idea of what love should be. Looking back, I would say my marriage to my first husband was definitely an experiment gone awry, with fault laying on both of our doorsteps. I adored the idea of love exploding like fireworks but I had no idea how to function in a partnership beyond that concept.

The love I’ve nurtured for my partner now — in my second marriage — is a love that comes from a more confident, self-aware person. He gets the love that grows within me. If I haven’t evolved as an individual person, chased after my own goals, or taken care of myself properly in any way, that love isn’t as genuine or healthy.

Loving myself has made my marriage what it is today. It’s more open, less volatile, and full of the desire to be better. My first marriage reflected what I was going through at the time which was a lot of confusion, self-destructiveness, and anger.

RELATED: 7 Relationship Problems That Are Most Common In A Second Marriage

Relationships are like a mirror into ourselves. They reflect how we see ourselves, feel about ourselves, and also how we treat ourselves. You can only expect so much from a partner. The rest is really up to you.

Though it sounds romantic, you can’t actually “complete” a person. But you can be an amazing partner by being your best self. Of course, it certainly helps to be with someone who wants to be a bettero person, work on their own issues, and who wants to cultivate a functional, honest, loving relationship.

This is why I don’t love my second husband in the same way I loved my first.

I have a different set of relationship tools to use now.

I’ve learned better ways to express my feelings or explain the problems I’m having. I’m not perfect at it by a long shot but it’s a satisfying work in progress. We can meet each other in the middle. There’s no chasing or withholding. This is a new, revised edition of love where we are in control of who we are as individuals as well as how we treat each other within our marriage.

The term “sloppy seconds” certainly doesn’t apply to my own second marriage because, from my experience, the seconds can be so much sweeter.

RELATED: 9 Ways Couples In The Happiest Second Marriages Make Parenting Blended Families Work

Michelle Zunter has written at The Huffington Post, Role Reboot, Stepparent Magazine & I also co-host a weekly Podcast at The Broad's Way, discussing marriage, sex, love, divorce, adultery, parenting, step-parenting, and women's issues.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.