When you enter a first marriage, you are extremely hopeful for the future and believe that nothing will be able to come between you and your new spouse. However, you are also not fully aware of the challenges ahead. However, when you enter a second marriage, you are more realistic. You know better what to expect and what challenges lie ahead as you move forward. Being a second wife presents different challenges than being the first wife. Read on to learn more about the common challenges of being the second wife and how to deal with being a 2nd wife.

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Social Stigma

Despite the large number of divorces, there is still a negative social stigma surrounding divorce. Being known as or introduced as the second wife can feel condescending. Sometimes it is not an overt reaction from others, just the subtle nod of the head or pursed lips that signifies that the person knows you were not the first choice.

In other situations, other people may not accept you and may make this obvious. Friends of the former couple may treat you badly or refuse to acknowledge you. Others may compare you to the former spouse and conclude that you are less than. Former in-laws who may still be involved in your spouse’s life may try to shut you out or treat you as an outsider or intruder.

While the social stigma is one of the most challenging second wife issues, the key is to learn how to be a second wife with grace and dignity. You may need to make clear that you understand the role of the former spouse and you are not trying to replace her. Be warm and welcoming even if you initially get a cold response. Soon, people will get to know you and stop associating your spouse with his ex. 

Past Experiences & Emotional Baggage

One of the hardest aspects of being a second wife is having to deal with the emotional baggage of the failed marriage. Your spouse may still have lingering feelings associated with the former marriage, including guilt, shame, regret, anger, sadness, or many others. He may be wounded and certain things may trigger an emotional response, such as if you say or do something his ex did. If there were certain issues in the previous relationship such as infidelity, your spouse may have trouble trusting, even if you were not the one who caused this pain.

This can often feel like you are paying for the past sins of your spouse’s ex. You may also feel like you are constantly being compared to the ex and may even feel inadequate at times. You may respond by trying to control your spouse’s actions or feelings to reclaim control, but this tactic can backfire and cause even more challenges in your new marriage.

To overcome this common second wife challenge, you and your new spouse may need to build a strong support system. You may benefit from marriage counseling if you think that some of the issues involved in the former relationship were not resolved and are currently bleeding into yours. Additionally, marital counseling can help give you some tips on how to better communicate with your spouse, which can be critical if your spouse and his ex developed poor communication habits.

Being A Stepmother

Some of the biggest second wife problems come with your new role as a stepmother. It may feel very intimidating to become a stepmother, especially if you do not have kids of your own or did not plan on having children. This insecurity can be further fueled if the kids are not accepting of you, resent you, or blame you for their parents’ breakup. They may rebel against you or ignore you completely. You may be tasked with many childcare responsibilities, so you may do all of the same work as the biological parents but get none of the credit.

To add onto your 2nd wife problems, the ex may not accept you, either. She may feel threatened by your marriage and may even actively try to turn the kids against you. With good or bad intentions, she may try to get your spouse to agree to upholding certain traditions that may make you feel uncomfortable, such as celebrating holidays together or having a weekly dinner with the kids. She may even tell your spouse that you are not allowed to be there.

These tactics may make you feel like you do not belong and are not part of the family unit. You may feel that your spouse puts his previous family before you and your needs or like everything your spouse does revolves around his former family unit. You may also feel shunned by extended family and family friends who do not recognize you as a parental figure.

These problems may not quickly resolve themselves. However, the more time you spend with your stepchildren and show that you are a positive force in their lives, the more others will come around to accept you and your role. You can also create new traditions that strengthen your new family’s sense of togetherness.

Financial Issues

Money problems are known to be a major stressor and cause for divorce. However, if you and your spouse are facing financial problems because of the former relationship, you may feel resentful. Your spouse and his ex may have racked up debt that they are still trying to pay off. While you’re probably not legally responsible for the debt, you may feel overburdened with paying other bills because your spouse has to handle these obligations. Additionally, your spouse may be paying spousal support or child support, placing a further strain on your household’s income.

A divorced spouse will often not have as much retirement savings or general savings as other men his age who have not been divorced. During the divorce process, your spouse would have split up his assets and savings with his former wife. You may even find yourself being the more financially secure spouse due to these issues, which may seem like a heavy burden for a new marriage.

Additionally, you may feel shortchanged by the emotional aspect surrounding financial decisions. For example, you may not be the first. Your spouse may have owned a home with their ex. Or they may have traveled to certain destinations you always wanted to go to. You or your spouse may feel tainted by the memories of the past.

Working with a financial professional may help you and your new spouse make it through some of these challenges.

Normal Relationship Issues

Some second wife challenges may not have anything at all to do with the first marriage; they are just part of the normal struggles that people who are in a relationship go through. Normal relationship issues may arise during your marriage,  such as communication issues, money problems, sickness, unemployment, jealousy, distrust, or many others. Many of these problems arise even in relationships that do not involve any former marriages. However, the normal relationship issues coupled with the other second wife problems discussed above can feel daunting. 

Benefits of Being The Second Wife

The news is not all bad for second wives. There are actually several benefits of being the second wife, including:

Your Spouse Knows What They Want

Because your spouse has been married and divorced, they will probably have a much better idea about what they want. If their marriage broke up due to a fundamental incompatibility, such as he wanted kids and she didn’t, he will focus on this when entering into a new relationship. While dating, your now-spouse may have asked you some big picture questions early on to gauge your compatibility. Since he will find in you what was missing in his first marriage, this may even make him appreciate you more.

Your Spouse Knows the Work Involved in Marriage

A failed marriage can often be a great teaching tool. Your spouse can consider what went wrong in his former marriage and how to avoid a similar outcome in the next one. When your spouse first got married, he might not have realized the work that it takes to make a marriage work, but now he does. His first marriage may have prepared him to be a good husband to you.

You Can Skip Hard Years of Parenting 

If you marry someone with kids, it may be easier for you to get involved in the picture later in their lives than when they are very young. This may help you to move into a more supportive role more akin to friendship than an authority figure. While respecting the role of the parents in their children’s lives, you can forge new relationships of your own with the children or perhaps young adults.

Your Spouse Is More Mature 

A spouse who has been through marriage may have done some serious growing up. He may have little time for games and may avoid behaviors that caused friction in his previous marriage, such as cheating, staying out all night with friends, doing drugs, etc. Additionally, a divorced man may be better able to communicate and be more willing to work out differences in a constructive and respectful way so that he does not repeat the mistakes of his previous marriage. This foundation may make your marriage easier.

While being a second wife certainly has its own unique challenges, happiness is worth the effort to overcome them.

5-Day Divorce Recovery Crash Course. Take the first steps in your recovery and start healing today! Send me the free emails
5-Day Divorce Recovery Crash Course. Take the first steps in your recovery and start healing today! Send me the free emails