The Challenges of Being the Second Wife
Marriage itself is a challenge - challenge to one's freedom, independence, sexuality, interpersonal skills and egotism. It is quite natural that being a second wife throws up more and tougher challenges on a woman.
Second Hand Syndrome
If the woman who gets married to a previously married person (divorcee or widower) is an unmarried woman before, she, in all probability, starts off her life with a sense of imbalance; she starts her life with a feeling as though a brand new product is exchanged to a secondhand product.
Unless the woman has made her choice with open mind (perhaps by falling in love with the man or by a well thought out and deliberate choice) this sense of imbalanced exchange is likely to haunt her. Since women are essentially emotional creatures by nature, the second wife may vent out her frustration on her partner at some time or other, putting him in discomfiture and a sense of guilt. Unless a healthy and mutually enjoyable sexual relationship develops between them, the possibility of the woman getting frequently irked by the fundamental discontent can not be ruled out. Depending on the man's inherent nature, either he may become too defensive or offensive. In either case, relationship has the tendency to deteriorate.
The second challenge the woman might face as a second wife is in receiving comparative comments. All said and done, the husband cannot help but compare his second wife with his first one. If, per chance, the second woman turns out to be much better in his standards, all would be fine. On the contrary, if the first wife happened to be better in his standards of expectations, the man would find it extremely difficult to keep his mouth shut. Right from cooking, house keeping, spending money, dressing sense and up to the intimate bedroom behavior, he would start offering his comparisons with his former wife, with a purported ideal of giving guidance and course-correction to the second wife.
Such a behavior of the husband may prove to be the greatest irritant for the second wife, sooner or later. The second wife requires lots of level-headedness and diplomacy to deal with such a husband, particularly if the first wife had died and the husband still possesses a sentimental emotional hang over.
In case the second wife too is one who was married earlier (and became widowed or divorced), the problem of comparisons may tend to take ugly repercussions. Having been irritated by her husband's comparisons, she might get tempted to compare him with her previous husband and start teasing him in retaliation. Such a tit-for-tat behavior has every potential to damage the cordial relationship between the partners.
Even assuming that both the husband and wife are very careful in not bringing back past history to the present life, there may be friends and relatives who tactlessly bring in comparisons during conversations and this may potentially upset the second wife.
Problems get compounded if either or both the spouses have children born through the previous wedlock. Numerous emotional and personality traits are involved in running the family as a second wife, when children are in picture. To what extent the second wife is endowed with a large heart to adopt the children of her husband's first wife as her own, the age and mental maturity of the children, to what extend the husband is able to accept and relate to the children of his second wife, how the children (of both sides) are able to adjust with the others - there are simply too many factors involved in assessing the challenges to be faced by the second wife.
Even assuming that the second wife is able to tackle the children of her husband's previous wedlock amicably, a huge and uneasy question will always hang as to what will happen to her emotional balance and her relationship with those children if and when she herself becomes a mother of her own child.
Even when children of the same parents suffer from sibling rivalry, it would be quite natural that the step children may carry this rivalry to a very ugly level and the emotional problems the woman will face as the second wife will at times become insurmountable.
Unless the woman who becomes a second wife has very high mental maturity, a very large and loving heart and extreme levels of patience, she will not be able to walk through the knife edge of second marriage without getting emotionally hurt.