Men who have been divorced like Ben Affleck make better husbands second time round, trust me I know, says Samantha Brick | The Sun
LAST week, a weekday, I was woken with breakfast in bed.
On a On a tray was my preferred mug, a cafetière of my favourite coffee and toast with butter and Marmite It wasn’t my birthday or our wedding anniversary.
If I think back to my first marriage, there is no way this would ever have happened. I was always up before him for starters.
I don’t know (or care) about the domestic intricacies of Pascal’s first marriage. But I’d bet cold, hard cash that it never occurred to him to make such a gesture for his first wife.
As for his other dazzlingly brilliant husband talents — well, how long have you got?
He is a fantastic cook and puts up with my vegetarian ways. He’s fairly domesticated — I have to ask to use his favourite vacuum cleaner, and am not allowed to clean the cooker because that is his domain
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I haven’t had to nag him to own these chores. Neither have I sat him down in front of the male equivalent of the Stepford Wives film.
And I definitely haven’t had to issue dramatic threats about Splitsville if he didn’t pull his weight at home.
What has made the difference? He has been on the marriage carousel before. And it is my theory that he is a better husband for having already said “I do”.
The same goes for me because I’ve also been married before. And I know perfectly well it is the first wife who irons out all those bachelor wrinkles in a man.
A glance around the world of celebrities tells me I’m not alone.
Ben Affleck who recently wed Jennifer Lopez said of his first wife Jennifer Garner: “Jen is a superhero mom. She is an amazing mother, and I’m really lucky to have her as a partner to co-parent with.”
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Their split in 2015, just before their tenth anniversary, looked messy. It was blighted by rumours of his alleged affair with their nanny, and his alcoholaddiction.
Then there’s Gwyneth Paltrow who famously “consciously uncoupled” with Chris Martin and clearly set him up with the skills to be the perfect partner for Dakota Johnson.
Orlando Bloom’s marriage to supermodel Miranda Kerr paved the way for life with his second wife Katy Perry. The same can be said for Demi Moore and Bruce Wills. The Die Hard star entered the marriage a wild man of Hollywood and, when things ended with Demi, became a beacon of domesticity with second wife Emma Heming.
All men need a practice marriage or long-term relationship.
That’s wisdom you are unlikely to hear from a marriage counsellor, but research by the Marriage Foundation shows second marriages are more stable than first ones with a divorce rate of 31 per cent compared to 45.
Dating and relationship expert James Preece told me: ““Many people have more successful marriages second time around. They’ve had a chance to learn from their mistakes and enter a second marriage with a better understanding of what it takes to make it work. They see it as a second chance for happiness."
In my experience, this is true. Men go into their first marriage wet behind the ears. They might leave it battle-weary but they know how to pull their weight in a relationship. It’s first wives like me who put up with, then point out and address, their mistakes. When he trots into his next relationship, he’s Mr Perfect.
I married for the first time just after I’d turned 30. We’d conducted a long-distance relationship until then and he moved into my home. I was the breadwinner and he worked part-time. It was only fair, then, that he got to be super-domesticated.
The same went for our social life. After a few sulky episodes from yours truly he knew date nights didn’t organise themselves. He also knew, from me arranging our first holidays, that birthday weekends away should involve romantic boutique hotels only.
Our marriage ended less than two years later when I moved to LA for work. I suspect whoever got my ex after me will have been especially surprised at his domestic skills and what a thoughtful life partner he is. As for Pascal, I was amazed the first time I turned up at his house for dinner.
It’s first wives like me who put up with, then point out and address, their mistakes. When he trots into his next relationship, he’s Mr Perfect.
On the table were a bowl of freshly cut lilac flowers. He’d bought some organic massage oil in case he got lucky (he did!) and even ran a bath for me the next morning.
As our relationship and now marriage has progressed, I haven’t had to worry about those biggies in life.
Money issues? We share a bank account. Being unfaithful? Pascal cheated in his first marriage and the relationship did fail. I’m fairly certain he found taking on a mistress is something wives dislike.
I know from girlfriend chat that women worry about sloppy seconds. But one wife’s marital trash can be another girl’s happily-every-after.
I’m grateful to Pascal’s ex. I now have a faithful, domesticated chap.
Equally, I’d like to think there is a woman grateful for my skills in training up my ex, now her other half.
MY LESSONS FOR NEXT TIME…
HERE a soon-to-be divorced dad tells what he learned from the failure of his first marriage.
"IT’S not only men who mess up. My ex and I were married for 21 years and I now know what I’d do differently to be a better partner.
I also know what I’d want – and not want – from another partner, too. It works both ways.
We got married on a Saturday in 1999, a week after Posh and Becks.
At the time, I thought her “better out than in” emotions and lack of boundaries were fun and exciting.
I even said, “It’s not going to be a bed of roses”, in my wedding speech, as if it was something thrilling to look forward to. It wasn’t. It proved to be exhausting and anxiety-inducing.
Two fiery, volatile, opinionated extrovert characters might seem like a match made in heaven, but it’s actually a match just waiting to be lit, which it was on hundreds of occasions.
Now I’m more interested in harmony than conflict and would choose someone lower down on the Richter scale. There were things I wish I’d done differently, too.
On the Monday after our wedding, my new wife went away for a six-month work contract while I started life as a married bachelor.
I’d never ever agree to that now. It’s like sending your kids to boarding school. It set up a pattern that continued throughout our marriage.
She was the career-woman, I was an intermittent stay-at-home dad.
Looking back, this persona was a lie. I enjoyed looking after my newborn kids for a while, but when I started to sacrifice my own career so my wife could further hers, I became resentful and passive aggressive.
Next time, I’d just be honest and admit that as much as I wanted to help her career, I was not prepared to do all the laundry, cook every meal and wait in every evening not knowing when she’s going to arrive home.
And she was too tired to communicate when she did.
I also wish I’d been braver about the subject of sex. The truth is the honeymoon period wore off relatively quickly, but rather than having the guts to admit it, I pretended everything was fine, to save her feelings.
If I’d been more honest, I probably could have saved us both a world of pain.
It took us more than a decade to get a joint bank account and by then, the financial chasm was wide. We should have sat down early on to talk about our finances.
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By the time we got marriage counselling, it was way too late. The counsellor eventually said: “There’s nothing I can do for you.”
Because of all the above, I ended up leaving with zero notice, which was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Two years later, the ripple7 effects have yet to subside."
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