Women marrying divorcees suffer from what Barash, drawing on the Daphne Du Maurier novel, calls the Rebecca syndrome--the new wife believes she is "competing with an invisible enemy." And Wife Number Two's fears are not always irrational. Occasionally, a first wife cannot let go of her husband, and tries to insinuate her way into the second marriage.
The problems go beyond the triangle of hubby and his two wives. Adjusting to a new step-parent can be tough for kids, who may fear that Dad will devote all of his attention to his new wife. In-laws may remain loyal to the first wife, and ex-in-laws may meddle in the new marriage.
Despite all the hurdles second wives face, second marriages can prevail. If the husband and second wife are "soulmate[s].the second marriage exists as the only marriage."
Still, even soulmates can use some practical guidance--the most blissful couples will find "Second Wives" a useful guide to second marriages.