The Second Wives Club: Getting Along with the Ex’s New Wife

By: Equality in Marriage

You thought your marriage would last forever and it didn't. Even then, you couldn't imagine that your former partner would marry again. Now they have. Whether it's dealing with children, mutual friends, etc., there may be times when you and the new wife are in the same locale. Whether your initial reaction to the new woman is affection, ambivalence, pity, or anger, here are some things to consider when thinking about your relationship with the new wife.

You Don't Have to Hate Her:

No need to pull an obligatory "Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerigan" experience on the new wife, scowling and slinging bad thoughts at every turn. It is neither an admission of defeat or a sign of weakness to actually like her. Who knows, you may have more in common than you think and the ability to look at her as just another person in your world that you might connect with certainly shows that you have moved past the baggage of your former marriage and are operating on your own terms.

You Don't Have to Like Her:

You don't have to be the archrival OR best friend to the new wife. You do need to decide what you are comfortable with. If, at first, there is a lot of residual anger or jealousy, then it may be better to have a "I'll see you when I have to" relationship and try to avoid encounters that might make you feel uncomfortable. If you are fine with casual social interactions with the new wife and these are necessary because of children or other factors, then decide you will keep the relationship at that level. There are times when the old and new wives click and friendships do develop. Just make sure these feelings are sincere and you are not just trying to "keep your enemy close."

Avoid Getting Involved in THEIR Relationship:

Whether you remain friends with your ex and/or the new partner, try to stay out of their marriage. Regardless of your motives, there is always the possibility that your opinion or advice might seem to have ulterior motives. Also, recognize that every relationship is different and things you learned or thought about your former partner in your marriage may not be applicable. Part of moving on and establishing your own life and identity is to focus on the goals, challenges and relationships in your life and not lingering in a former one.

Don't Get the Children Involved:

If there are children of any age in the picture, realize that they are already vulnerable because of the divorce and try to respect that by being unbiased. Don't plant ideas about your ex and his new wife in their heads and don't use the children to "get information" on the new situation. Children, especially grown ones, need to have the opportunity to create their own relationships within their growing family. Avoid idle prying or campaigning for the children's affections that might make your offspring feel guilty about developing these relationships.

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