As my husband's second wife, I never once considered the thoughts and feelings of his ex-wife. Rather, I was enjoying my new marriage and family! It wasn't until I was on the flip side of the situation that I truly understood the emotions that flared from being the ex-wife.
Becoming the Ex-Wife
When my first marriage ended, I was confident in my decision for both me and my children. Although my ex and I had been high school sweethearts, time had changed us both into adults that were no long compatible. Our changing personalities combined with small children, financial strain, and a lack of time with each other was an equation for a failing marriage! He and I didn't work out, we were young, I assumed someday he would move on. Of course someday he'd find someone new.
Living Life as the New Wife
My husband and I have shared many experiences together, both good and bad, in the short number of years we have known each other. When we got married, not only was it taking our relationship to a new level, but combining two families. He had two sons and I had two daughters. It was exciting to have this ready-made family, even though it wasn't always easy. With this second marriage came the label of "step-mother" and a vast amount of uncharted territory!
It was nice to get to be a parent figure with less responsibility! If the boys were in trouble, my husband handled the situation. If unwanted news had to be delivered, it came from my husband. Meaning most of the time, if the boys were mad, it was at my husband. I was able to be the good guy! I figured since I also now had a tie to the children, it was best to try to befriend my husband's ex-wife. It was hard to understand why, despite my endless friendly attempts, she wanted nothing to do with me. I was sincere in my efforts, so why did she feel threatened or upset?
His New Wife
A few years after our divorce, my ex-husband married his new wife. I had already been remarried and was happy with my new family, so why should I care that he had moved on. I wanted him to find someone and I didn't regret the decision I had made, yet there were many emotions surfacing that I thought I had already faced.
Although I had seen this woman before, I now found myself comparing everything about her to me. Was it her physical appearance? Personality? Demeanor? What was it that she had that I was missing? As I continued to pin-point why I didn't measure up, I continued my effort to befriend my husband's ex-wife. I finally understood.
Regardless of my efforts, as the "new wife" I would always represent a failed role in a marriage. Whether or not the marriage was meant to last, was enjoyable, or even wanted, it had fallen apart. Now that I was enlightened, I had to pick my role as both, an ex-wife and a new wife.
Not only was she the new wife, but also the step-mother of my children. As their mother, it was my job to analyse her every move. I had to, for my kids. Although I should have been thrilled that she was quickly welcomed by my daughters; their eager acceptance made me feel threatened. "Of course they like her more than me, she doesn't have to be the bad guy and I do!" Rather than embracing a well-liked step-parent, I felt as though she was invading my territory.
Defining My Role
After seeing the situation from both sides, I realize that regardless of my emotions and fears, I must live my life! I can't change the past, but I can live the future to the fullest. Yes! I made mistakes in my first marriage, but rather than compare myself to someone else, I will learn from my mistakes and grow.
It's my responsibility to respect the relationships of others and to respond in a mature manner. I may never understand everything running through their heads, but I do realize that there are many emotions that are completely unrelated to me. Its not expected that I become friends with my husband's ex-wife or my ex-husband's new wife. Rather than spend the remainder of my years bickering with someone, I will respect our distance and remember the emotions that arose!
Although some may like to think that a divorce is the end to a marriage, it is really the beginning to a whole new world of compromise! I will breathe a little easier, knowing that my daughters are with someone they have accepted and enjoy. I will be thankful that they have been given an extra set of parents to love and to protect them. I will be a little more accepting, since I am both the ex-wife and the new wife!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Collins on June 19, 2019:
I am going through this situation now. I was married for 31 yrs (together since HS for 37 1/2 yrs) and been divorced for 2 1/2. My X husband got remarried a year and half ago. Both our children are grown (28 & 31 yrs of age). My daughter just got engaged and will marry in a year. My X husband ( and his wife) have wanted a “meet & greet” for over a year. I have said I wasnt ready for that. I have so many mixed emotions & don’t want to be friends with his new wife. I do understand that at my daughters wedding I will be cordial / polite. But just yesterday his new wife reached out to me via text to now get together to break this ice before the wedding (which is next May). I feel pushed and forced to do this on her terms and for my children’s sake I will do the “right” thing but why does she push so much to have a relationship with me? I have a very nice communication type relationship with my X husband and I feel that’s all I need, especially that my children are grown adults. I appreciated your article and any advice moving forward.
Shirley on November 19, 2018:
You were extremely naive and somewhat self centered. Your insight and compassion have grown.
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Debbie Carey from Riverton, KS, USA on July 15, 2011:
I too am an ex wife and a new wife! It is hard to balance on that tight rope many days! Though my children are grown and grandchildren have come, it isn't always easy to remember that the ex wife and new wife of the "husbands" in my life have "baggage" that isn't necessarily about me! Good job reminding us! I voted up, interesting and useful! Good luck in your relationships!