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Prayer of a Second Wife

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 03, 2012

Prayer of a Second Wife

By Vesta Nickerson Fairbairn

Dear understanding God, help me be wise
To sense the past and present interlacing,
To know the moment to be self-effacing,
To feel when love unveiled should fill my eyes.
My heart needs time to learn, to recognize
The subtle changing moods of one replacing
Old designs with new, while still embracing
Sacred memories. Help me be wise!




  1. How about a poem written by a Second Wife who was previously sealed to a First Husband, happily married for 30 or 40 years, then widowed, and now happily remarried as a Second Wife?

    Comment by IDIAT — July 3, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

  2. I think this woman could be happy, but simply recognizing the need to be sensitive to her husband’s loss of his first wife.

    Comment by HokieKate — July 3, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

  3. It took me a bit to realize that this wasn’t about a polygamous “second wife.”

    Comment by iguacufalls — July 3, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

  4. Me too, iguacu. So much so that I thought the poem made no sense.

    Comment by Adam G. — July 3, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  5. Ha! We’re all so conditioned!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 3, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

  6. Read Handbook 2, section 1.3.1 on how husbands and wives should treat one another. Quoting from President Kimball, it says husbands and wives should leave behind their single life and establish their marriage as the first priority in their lives. Does that include leaving behind a first marriage and/or children from first marriage? I don’t have the answer as I’m not in that position. But I would love to hear how sealed men and women who’ve remarried handle things as new experiences with second spouse push out memories of old spouse. Listen to the way Elder Scott describes his first wife, and contrast it with the way we rarely hear Elders Perry, Nelson and Oaks speak of their first wives. I would love to hear a poem written by Sister Jeanette Callister Hales Beckham.

    Comment by IDIAT — July 3, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  7. I don’t suppose President Kimball meant a deceased spouse should be utterly forgotten — memories are sacred, as this poet acknowledges. If there are children involved, that would make another layer where acknowledging tender memories and ties would have to have a place.

    But I can speak from a sort of ancestral experience (my sisters-in-law, my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, my great-great-grandmother were all second wives): a past marriage cannot be allowed to govern a current one. The past belongs to the first wive, the present belongs to the one who is living.

    I would suppose that recognition could easily explain the difference between Elder Scott and the others. Elder Scott has no one else’s feelings and vulnerability to consider. I don’t suppose the other men feel any differently about their first wives as Elder Scott does, but other feelings and obligations and loyalties have taken center stage. Don’t you think?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 3, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  8. I wrote a letter to my husband’s second wife, welcoming to her the family, that is tucked in with my will.

    I am sorry to be slow, but I don’t really see any difference in the way Elder Scott talks about his wife vs. Elders Perry, Nelson or Oaks. Elder Scott has thus far not remarried, and that’s a good thing for the rest of us in that it disproves the frequently spouted notion that GAs have to remarry in a certain time, and shows that we are all different. But just because they have done different things does not make one choice better or worse.

    Comment by Naismith — July 4, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

  9. Elder Scott talks often of his wife, and the others seldom if ever speak publicly about their first wives. That is how I took IDIAT’s statement. I certainly agree with your evaluation of choices, though.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 4, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

  10. It would take more space here to discuss, but Naismith makes my point about us accepting plural marriage in the eternities as opposed to our angst over it practiced in the early days of the restored church. Is it just a coincidence that male church leaders have been careful about remarrying a sister who was not previously sealed to another man? Other than Elder Wells, I can’t think of modern day prophet or apostle who remarried a sister who was sealed to another man. I’ve never had a notion that GAs had to remarry in a certain time, but when they do, I think it’s pretty clear they are not looking for a new wife amongst the many widows that are Zion.

    Comment by IDIAT — July 5, 2012 @ 8:14 am

  11. IDIAT, we’ve just started a series here for discussing historical plural marriage. Please save such comments for that series. It’s hard enough to have a productive discussion about plural marriage in any venue, and I resist — to the point of deleting comments — speculative, uninformed, sensational, ahistorical and other unenlightening remarks on this topic. Thanks for your cooperation.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 5, 2012 @ 8:33 am

  12. Okay. No problem.

    Comment by IDIAT — July 5, 2012 @ 9:06 am

  13. Thanks for being a good sport.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 5, 2012 @ 9:14 am

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