The title of this article may be a bit misleading because honestly, I don’t know if I will ever truly “learn” how to be the second wife, but I do feel that I adjust to the idea.
I also feel that we have done everything in our power to be a functioning blended family. A functional blended family is the best way I can describe our family, which includes our sons, my step-son, my husband’s ex-wife, my husband and me.
I put myself last on the list because I do feel that I am always giving to everyone else. I also accept that this will not change. This is something I was aware of when I decided to marry my husband, and this is something I accept.
Still, it is not always easy. It took a lot of adjusting and acceptance that in the long run, I do feel made me stronger, more forgiving, and more reflective than I was before.
When you are a second wife who has never been previously married, you find yourself swimming in a sea of “firsts” alone.
To clarify, when I married my husband, this was my first wedding, when we had our oldest son, this was my first baby, and so on. These were experiences that my husband had already been through, and instead of sharing a series of firsts together, I felt a little on my own.
This is indeed nothing against my husband. He was still excited to get married, and he was overjoyed to find out about our future children, but he had a different perspective than I. It wasn’t new to him. Unlike me, he had done it all before.
When you are the second wife, and there are children from a previous marriage, you also have to accept that you are never really the priority. And this is the way it should be.
I feel that the children should come first, and although there were some tense times between them, my step-son was always at the forefront of my husband’s mind. The lack of time my husband was able to spend with him and the effort to see him weighed heavily on my husband’s guilty conscious.
Some divorces are messy, and sometimes both parties make mistakes that linger in the air like smoke from a fire that will not dissipate. The second wife sometimes feels that she is there to pick up the ashes, which as many knows, can be an impossible feat.
A second wife—who is often also a step-mother—has to have her husband’s ex-wife be part of her life. Again, this is the way it should be; this woman had a child with your husband, and it is in the best interest of the child for his parents to have a functional relationship.
I have had to develop a relationship with her too because this is part of being a blended family. Although we may have very different perspectives, we function, and we all genuinely want what is best for the child involved.
This does add some tension and pressure to a second marriage that is nonexistent in a first marriage.
Being a step-mom also comes with its share of responsibilities that are not relevant in a first marriage. I am fortunate to have a step-son whom I respect and get along with. I truly do love this kid, and I am saddened by the lack of time we get to see him.
This sadness also resonates from my husband, and it is just a complicated situation all around.
Although my step-son and I get along, and I am so happy to have him in our lives, I still feel like I am always walking on eggshells. I am well aware I am not his biological mother, and I am also not his friend; I am his step-mom, and this category is a bit confusing.
It’s like you want to get close but is not sure how close he wants you to get. You want to be a part of his life, but what role exactly does he want you to have in his life? You want him to be a part of the family that you and your husband have built, but you wonder what feelings he has about his father’s “other” family.
It’s a constant balancing act, and although I do my best to do what’s best for my step-son, these decisions sometimes become blurry, and I feel similar to a train without a track.
A second wife has to give, give, give, and give some more. There are moments when I feel like I am giving so much to so many other people that I have little time to take a breath myself. This is something a second wife has to work on. This is something I have had to improve on.
There have been moments when I have accepted the surrender. I know I cannot fix everyone else’s relationships and problems. I can only do the best I can to maintain the relationships I have with others. This was a powerful lesson and epiphany for me.
It is up to my husband and his ex-wife to keep a cordial relationship. It is up to my husband to work on his relationship with my step-son. It is up to me to focus on the relationships I have with all of these people, but this is it. I cannot save everyone and never will be able to. I only have so much to give.
The second wife has to make a lot of sacrifices. She has to sacrifice her resources; she shared experiences of firsts, her order on the totem pole, even portions of her identity. It’s not a cushy gig, but it is a gig I chose.
A sad statistic is that approximately two-thirds of second marriages fail. You read that correctly: two-thirds. Luckily, I do not feel that I fall into that category, but my wedding has probably not been all rainbows and unicorns.
We have had to be committed to making this work constantly. We have both had to sacrifice. We have had to fall multiple times and continue to pick ourselves back up. We have had to fight to make it successful. In many ways, we continue to beat the odds.
Being a second wife is not for everyone, and this was a decision I did not take lightly. My husband and I waited seven years before getting married. This was a clever decision for us. We needed that time. When we did get married, we both had a decent idea of what we were getting into.
I would never rush into a second marriage, and I would be aware of the sacrifices it will take to make it work.
My husband and I are in the right place right now. We are expecting our second son together and have found our rhythm. We also accept our locations. We love each other, and we make it work. But we are incredibly dedicated, and this dedication is what you need in any marriage. In a second marriage, you just need a little bit more.
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About the Author: Amanda Clark resides with her family in Ocala, Florida. In addition to contributing works for Peace Quarters, she also creates educational content for Atlas Mission. She is recently transitioning from a full-time middle school English teacher to a stay-at-home mom, tutor, transcriber, and writer. She has written four books of poetry: Looking at the Moon, Beautifully Mixed-Up World, Flying Fall, and Through the Blinds. She loves technology, juggling pins, and playing with her two-year-old son who will become a big brother in February. She also is a pro at multitasking.