For second wives, the honeymoon can be over quickly. New wives of divorced or widowed men face a unique set of problems as they compete with the memory of wife number one, inherit the burdens of stepchildren or share the financial frustrations of supporting two households. While the number of second (and third) wives is at an all time high, many of these women feel isolated in their situations and don’t know where to turn for advice and support.
In Second Wives: The Pitfalls and Rewards of Marrying Widowers and Divorced Men, Susan Shapiro Barash has written an invaluable book that guides women through the often treacherous minefield of a second marriage. A second wife herself, Barash share her own experiences, those of over a hundred other second wives, and the expertise of psychologists and counselors, to explore the emotional and practical problems that second marriages can face.
Like first wives, second wives bring high expectations to their marriages, but soon encounter their own relationship problems, financial realities and child-rearing frustrations. Unlike first wives, second wives inherit the baggage of the earlier marriage and often must compete with the demands of wife number one. Money can become a major bargaining chip, as the husband juggles the responsibilities of the first and second homes, Angry stepchildren or opinionated in-laws – ex and current – can stir things up even more. If the second marriage produces children, a new set of variables is introduced, adding further complications to the marriage.
Second Wives tackles many of the fears of women in second marriages. For example, second wives must recognize the possibility that their husband’s pattern of behavior may prove to be repetitive, especially If their relationship began as an extramarital affair. By understanding the husband’s relationship with the first wife, the second wife can avert the negative and make her marriage stronger. If the first wife is still in the picture, and especially if there are children from the earlier marriage, the second wife must learn to deal with the inevitable feeling of competition.
If it is a woman’s first marriage, she must learn to accept he husband’s past, but she must also set boundaries. Her husband must learn to place her needs above those of his first wife. Barash pay special attention to the “Rebecca Syndrome”, a situation in which women married to widowers feel haunted by the memory of the first wife. If can be a difficult balancing act to respect her husband’s memories and help him deal wit his grief while building a new relationship for the future, but this is a necessary step for a successful marriage. Other issues, such as intrusive in-laws and juggling two careers, can also have great impact on second marriages and Barash gives sound advice for handling them.
“Susan Shapiro Barash combines her professional and personal insights to help women create solid bonds with their husbands and avoid feelilng second-rate as Wife No.2. Her helpful book addresses [many] issues..and offers solid strategies for beating the statistics”
— Publishers Weekly
“Barash brings her experience as an academi and, more importantly, a second wife, to this useful book onhow to navigate the sometimes murky waters of remarriage Second Wives is instructional for women who want to know what issues can arise from becoming a second wife.”
— ForeWord Magazine
“The book is for women thinking about becoming a second wife and those who have already taken the plunge.”
— Tulsa World
“Women who ate thinking of marrying a man who is saying ‘I do’ again will find Barash’s voice comforting.”
— Library Journal
“A thoughtful account of the pleasures and pains of being a second wife. Barash does a commendable job of presenting an objective view. Readers are given the tools to make the marriage successful and rewarding.”
— Today’s Librarian
“If there’s anything wrong with this book, it’s the title. First wives, second wives, women marrying men who are either widowed or divorced and the men themselves would benefit from the insights and wise counsel from Second Wives.”
— Stepfamilies (Stepfamily Association of America Publication)
“[Susan Shapiro Barash] knows whereof she speaks – or in this case, writes. She’s been there. In Second Wives, Barash details the experience of ‘second wifehood.'”
— Palm Beach Daily News