Hi everyone! Welcome to the blog. Have you ever wondered if the struggles of second marriage are new to our time, a modern phenomena? If the difficulties of blending a family are something unique to the present age? Well, today we are speaking with a lady who has spent a fair bit of her time researching the cultures of ancient times and she has something to say about whether or not family dynamics have really changed over the years. We will begin the interview in a moment but first some news.
I wanted to let you know that print copy of my book is now available. To celebrate, I am offering three lucky readers a free copy of the paperback version through Goodreads! The only requirement is that you are a member of Goodreads, and reside in Canada or the U.S.A.. You can enter by clicking on the image to the right.
Also, for those of you who prefer to listen to your books, rather than read them, I have exciting news: an audiobook version of Second Marriage: An Insider’s Guide to Hope, Healing & Love is now in progress and should be ready by mid-September. So look out for that.
A Special Interview — Introduction
I have a special treat for you this week: it is our first interview!
We are going to be talking to an author friend of mine, Susan Preston. She is an award-winning author who has written a series of fiction books based in Biblical times. Her latest work is called Keep the Flame: Early Christianity Comes to Life. There are four books so far, a fifth will complete the series.
I wanted to ask Susan, who has studied Biblical culture extensively as research for her her novels about second marriage in Bible times. Was it common? Are the issues we face today new to us, or as ancient as the Bible? I hope you find this interview as interesting as I did.
Sharilee: So nice to have you here Susan! You are my very first interview. This is very special to the blog. First of all, I wanted to tell you that I have started reading your first book, Hold The Faith, and I was drawn in immediately. Your characters and the setting are very well-written. I know I will enjoy the rest of the book.
Susan: Thank you, Sharilee, and thank you for inviting me. I have gigabytes of research. As for the characters… I ‘lived’ with them, they became family.
Sharilee: That’s cool that you say they are like family. So, your characters become very real to you. So, let’s dive right into it. We know that second marriage is pretty common in our society today what about second marriage in the Biblical times? Was it common back then, too?
Second Marriage In the Bible
Susan: In the Bible second marriages were common. Not usually because of divorce, although it did happen sometimes, but because of the death of a spouse.
Death came in many forms. For example, a man could become a widower because his wife died of a fever or in childbirth, both quite common. In the Biblical times when nations were conquered, the soldiers of the invading army often raped and then killed the woman. It didn’t matter to the invaders if the woman was married, a virgin or had a family.
If she had a family, the woman whether raped and murdered, dead of a fever, or in producing another child, she left her children without a mother… and the husband with the task of finding a mother for them.
Welfare systems did not exist in the way we know them. The family was the welfare system. Men had to work, women and children had to be provided for.
Sharilee: Wow, Susan, that is so interesting. So, a second marriage really was a practical necessity. You can see that pattern carrying on, even until the early 1800’s. I found from my research that George Washington had a stepmom, because his beloved mother died when he was very young. His father married because he needed someone to look after the children and run the household. So, even the president of the United States was a product of a blended family.
Susan: A quote from the book of Ecclesiastes fits here <smile> ‘There’s nothing new under the sun.’
Sharilee: So true, Susan! Did people remarriages face any stigma, in Bible times, as they do today, do you think? Do you think they faced the same issues that we face today in second marriages?
Susan: Since it was often a necessity, I don’t think so. Unless, of course, a man took two wives at the same time. (A reason for that would perhaps be that the first wife was ‘barren’ – you will meet a situation like that in Hold the Faith.)
Interview — Getting to Know Susan
Sharilee: Susan, you shared with me that you were a second wife, too. If you don’t mind me asking, what was your situation?
Susan: Like many of my counterparts in the Bible. I was a widow with two children. Unlike the Biblical era, in modern times, there is a welfare system.
In similar fashion to those long gone times, as a now ‘unmarried’ woman, I was someone who should be paired.
Sharilee: So you felt a pressure from society remarry, in some ways?
Susan: Women who have been married, and are no longer married, are often seen as a ‘threat’ by other married women. So, it is safer for them to be married. I remember also, a pressure from peers to accompany them to ‘singles’ functions.
Sharilee: My research shows that most of us who marry the second time are pretty hesitant to do so but eventually end up married again. What was your experience? Were you pretty reluctant to enter into a marriage again?
Susan: My first marriage had not been a success, and I had determined I would not marry again until I could feel as valuable in a relationship as a future husband might seem. I had the luxury of choice because we had welfare in Australia, and women could work. I could choose to be independent – a choice I had not realized was so valuable until researching for the Christian series I later wrote.
For women in the Bible, there was not the luxury of choice. Marriage was the only way to survive, unless there was a rich, supportive family to help… and I did not see many of them in my research.
Sharilee: Yes, exactly. I am so glad we are not forced into marriage these days, just to survive. But you eventually did marry again, despite your initial timidity to do so.
Second Marriage With Teenagers
Susan: In my life… eventually, I guess God intervened. In spite of both our attempts to ignore it, Geoff and I realized that we were falling into love. We tried to ignore it. Neither of us had ‘good’ first marriages. There was a lot of ‘baggage.’
Also, we both had a family. He had one son living at home, I had two… and guess what – the ages! My daughter fourteen and a half; his son fifteen; my son six months older.
Sharilee: Wow, that is very close to the age my stepchildren at the time of our wedding, too. It is a lot to take on, for everyone involved, a lot of change. I know it’s not easy.
Susan: We thought we had it all ‘covered.’ Even though we discussed the pros and the cons and involved our children – nothing could have prepared us for the reality. Especially in dealing with our respective sets of baggage. The most important thing was that we were able to discuss things – a bit heatedly at times, but our love for each other and faith in God, helped us to come back to ‘we want to make it work. We love each other.
I think, Sharilee, you said something about writing a book being like building a stepfamily. Well it’s okay now… but give me writing a book any day over those first nine months as we dumped baggage and dealt with blending teenagers.
Sharilee: I hear you, Susan! It must have been very challenging for you. It sounds like you did a lot of things right, like involving the children and really talking things through but no matter what, becoming a stepfamily is not an easy process, period.
Susan: But, there’s a happy end. The stepson, who was such a challenge to both his own father, and me, turned up at my door, to visit a few weeks ago. (His father died coming close to four years ago.) It was a great visit, and so good to sit and talk with him again.
Sharilee: That’s beautiful! Susan, thanks so much for sharing about your books and your own personal story today. I really appreciate it so much.
Please comment below. Can you relate to Susan’s story? I always love to hear your feedback opinions and stories below.
About Susan Preston:
Susan describes herself as “the author of the Apostle John series of books. Faction, I believe these type of books are called nowadays. Fiction with a lot of carefully researched Biblical and historical fact.”
To learn more about Susan, visit her website at http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/
You can also get the first book of her series, Hold the Faith: Early Christianity Comes to Life, for $0.99 on Amazon.
For her guide on how to write Amazon reviews, sign up here: http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/reader-freebies/.
Thanks so much for reading. If you would like to order the book, Second Marriage: An Insider’s Guide to Hope, Healing, and Love, you can do so here: Amazon.