They say marriage is better the second time around, but the truth is that a second marriage can be more complicated. Being a second wife means there is always someone to compare you to. It doesn’t matter if the first wife was an angel or something less favorable. You are going to be either better or worse than she was to stepkids, in-laws, college buddies and even the one who got you to the altar in the first place. Consider some tips to help you get past those second wife blues.
Things Most Second Wives Face
No two marriages are alike, but there are some common scenarios most second wives must face.
1. The Consolation Prize Attitude
There is one at every party, business gathering or family reunion:
“Oh, you’re the SECOND wife.”
Or how about:
“I didn’t know you were the second wife.”
There’s implied negativity there that feels hard to get past — like you’re somebody’s consolation prize. It’s important to let people know you are not second-hand merchandise, but without losing your cool.
If you were married once before, you might point out that he is also your second husband. You got the practice round done and now you are playing for real.
If this is your first marriage, maybe say something like: “I know, he came already broken in.”
The point is a little ironic satire never hurt anyone, especially someone rude enough to point out, as if it’s news to you, that you are indeed a second wife.
2. Statistically Speaking
The premise is that you know all the things that went wrong the first time, so the second marriage should be smoother. Statistics don’t support that, though. It’s estimated that about 67 percent of second marriages end up in divorce.
Your mission, since you’ve already chosen to accept it, is not to let that statistic define you or your marriage. What’s important here is that 33 percent of all second marriages go the distance.
There is some truth to the idea that he came already broken in. The second time around hopefully brings with it spousal maturity, so you both already know the basics like:
- Honest communication is key
- Men are from Mars
- You are from Venus
- A spouse doesn’t complete you
People have a better understanding of what they want from a spouse the second time around and that’s a big plus.
3. The Honeymoon is Over Real Fast
When a young couple in love gets married, the honeymoon seems to last forever. With second marriages, life tends to get in the way. There are financial decisions to make, kids to manage, elderly parents to help and lots of things to do.
This chaos works in your favor. Chances are you are older now and not held down by some school girl fantasy about marriage. You are not necessarily looking for giddy love, but companionship and a connection that feels secure. No long honeymoon necessary.
4. The Divorced Friend Conundrum
There will always be the one or two divorced friends who resent the fact that you or your spouse was able to move on with life, or a buddy of your husband’s who wishes he could get out of his marriage. You may sense resentment coming in waves.
There is only one way to approach these misguided friends — with all the kindness you can muster. Complaining to your spouse is likely to backfire and it won’t change anything. Instead, be as nice as you can when you must and keep your distance when at all possible.
How to Be a Successful Second Wife
Instead of focusing on the challenges you face as a second wife, put your nose to the grindstone and find ways to make the marriage work.
1. Talk About the First Marriage
Don’t let it be the elephant in the room. Find out:
- What was right about it?
- What was wrong with it?
- What can you both do differently?
If you were also married before, be willing to talk about your experience. The goal here is not to demonize a former spouse but to open the discussion and get an understanding of the previous relationship. It’s especially important if you are still talking about getting married. There is no rush, so get all the facts before making that choice.
2. Don’t Expect Big Changes
Whether it’s your first or second marriage, get the idea that you can change your spouse out of your head. If you went into it with that expectation, then something is already wrong. You have to be able to accept his faults within reason and you have a right to expect he will accept yours too. Leaving the toilet seat up isn’t life-shattering, it’s just annoying.
3. Don’t Play the First Wife Blame Game
Especially if it involves dropping her name every time something goes wrong. It’s not a weapon you whip out whenever there is a disagreement. Consider her off limits if you are angry.
4. Don’t Blame the Kids Either
There is a difference between having an honest conversation about problems you might be facing with stepkids and making everything their fault. They are also not weapons to use when things are not going the way you want.
5. Focus on Your Common Likes
The commonality is likely what brought the two of you together, so make it work for you now. The tricky part of being a second wife is getting to spend enough time together. The stuff that comes later for most young married couples like a house, kids and money problems, you married into and they can get in the way. You have to counteract them with core interests that give you couple time like golfing, movies and gardening.
6. Give Blending Some Time
Having a previous marriage means having established relationships and responsibilities. There can be conflicts with former spouses, connections to past in-laws and children who have to accept changes that impact their lives, too. It will take time for everything to blend.
7. Don’t Forget Your “Me” Time
Sure, it’s “we” instead of “me” now, but you still need time for yourself, so schedule it. It could be something as small as walking the dog each day. Take a purposeful break at least once a day and let your mind wander. Be willing to give your spouse that time, too. It’s an integral part of your relationship.
You went into a second marriage knowing it wasn’t going to be easy, didn’t you? Being a second wife is a great honor but one that requires a little give and take to smooth out any wrinkles.