Written by Candida - Vanguard, Nigeria
You've finally met your idea of a 'soul mate'?' So what if he was married before? Thankfully, it was his ex who cheated and had to be sent packing out of the matrimonial home. She's not likely to be resentful of you. Or is she? Believe it or not, there is a support group called the British Second Wives Club (BSWC) and, according to their findings, the soon-to-be ex-wife is a likely candidate for causing trouble. And it's your arrival at the scene as potential wife number two that may trigger her unwanted and unwarranted attention. BSWC's founder, Linda Mellor says; "The flash point for the bad behaviour of some first wives seems to be when the man has finally picked himself up and has met another woman. It's as if some ex-wives secretly feel they are entitled to punish their former spouse for daring to get on with his life without them".
Which probably explains Erik's bewilderment at his ex-wife's attitude towards his second wife. "Throughout our marriage", he said, "she carried on as if she married beneath her. Nothing I did pleased her much and when she insisted on putting our first child in a posh primary school I couldn't afford, I put my food down. She went ahead an enrolled him anyway, snorting she would get the fees somehow. How? I wanted to know. `That is none of your business. If you can't carry your load, others will gladly help out', she spat, she became so flippant that I threatened to throw her out. She said she would spare me the effort. She was moving out.
"she eventually left with the only child of the union. Grapevine had it that she was involved with a rich industrialist. I was devastated but eventually moved on with my life. I met my current wife, sued for divorced which my first wife didn't even bother to contest, then settled down to the married bliss I didn't have in my first marriage. I was surprised when my ex called out of the blues a few months after I remarried that she was bringing out son to visit. She'd always used him as a bargaining chip and I'd washed my hands off both of them until this sudden turnaround. I could scarcely prevent my son from visiting, so when my ex turned up with him I was quite pleased to see him. But my ex was her snooty self. She regarded Lucy, my new wife, with disdain and didn't return her greetings. When she started reeling off the things our son needed, I told her to leave, that I would get in touch with her. Then began a series of calls and insults. Whenever Lucy picked up the phone, she would tell her to go and callher son's father. In the end, I put a stop to her harassment, but we still hold our breath. Knowing her, she's bound to spring another surprise soon".
According to Linda, not all first wives are a problem as 80 percent of BSWC's 1000+ members are ex-wives themselves. But she has identified a worrying breed, which needs to be treated with caution. "We find that the main perpetrators are women who were bullies within the marriage. They have particularly controlling tendencies", says Linda. "Trouble flares up when the ex-husband meets another woman . Suddenly, there's a part of his life that is not within the first wife's control and she doesn't like it. In some cases, she even sees the new partner as some kind of prey to be stalked. Today, four out of every ten marriages are second ones and it's hard to put a figure on how many second wives suffer such torment, but the number of women going through these problems is significant. One BSWC member was attacked by her partner's first wife and the woman's new boyfriend at a night club. The Police were called, and to her astonishment, she discovered that the woman had been stalking her for some time.
Another second wife became concerned when a woman fitting the description of her partner's ex-wife began loitering at her work place. 'I started to receive silent phone calls', she said, `I was at home one day and saw her sitting in a parked car looking at our house. Thankfully, it stopped after my partner threatened to report her to the police, but it was extremely frightening'. How then can second wives deal with such difficult situations.
"If a man has been bullied by his first wife, he often won't want to tackle her", says Linda. "But it's important that he stands side by side with his new partner. They have to show the first wife a united front and make sure they're giving out the same messages. Often, the abuse will pass with time but if things get nasty, then you need to go down the legal route.
"A solicitor's letter may be all it takes, but sometimes, the police will need to be called in. I can imagine there must be a host of emotions driving these women to poke around into their ex-husband's business."