Note from the blog owner: minnearminne is a new contributor to the blog, and this is her first post.
Since this article is specific to the two different ways things worked out for bringing and welcoming a new wife into the family, I will try to leave out too many details even though it will be hard.
Before I get started please keep in mind that, from a 1st wife’s perspective (well, mine I guess), we are giving part of our lives not just our stuff. Yes. I said giving. Some may seem expected and small while others rather significant depending on your point of view.
I feel like I should mention that the 2nd wife and I were going to welcome the 3rd wife in together but just a few weeks before, she bailed. I love her dearly and it was really hard. I think I know it was because of the pressures of bringing a new wife in, the teens were not happy and I think she caved. She would not give a reason so I don’t know for sure. No. I don’t have resentment toward the new wife because… if she wouldn’t have come then the other one would have stayed. People have asked that so I thought I would just mention it now. Another thing that might be important is that both were mainstream LDS but had gained a testimony of plural marriage. This was helpful because we all came from similar backgrounds.
Pre-discussions and Time Before
The FIRST time we spent some time talking and discussed the “27 Rules of Celestial Marriage” by Orson Pratt and seemed to agree on most things. We spent a lot of time together as a family rather than one-on-one time. Maybe that’s because we had kids that were about the same age so it was easier and more fun. When we went to these activities, we had to take two cars and she insisted to ride with me and explained that she didn’t want anything to do with the relationship if she didn’t have one with me. I liked that and it made me feel relieved, of course. It’s important for a 1st wife to know the new wife is giving some thought to the existing wife or wives.
With the SECOND, I had a few discussions with her but mostly testimony and personality traits etc. No logistics whatsoever were discussed. However, we did talk about how, if the husband has the final say, there will be fewer problems. While I agree with this idea wholeheartedly, I have seen it be used as a tool for one wife to actually rule the family through her persuasive (others would use the word manipulative) power over the husband—unbeknownst to the husband.
We didn’t spend much time all together. The husband spent the most time with her while I held down the fort. This was not because the husband and I didn’t try. I tried to instigate outings but there just wasn’t the interest. In fact, I invited her to come to the ice cream shop because I had a buy-one-get-one-free coupon and I was glad she accepted. But, when it came right down to it (the husband arrived), she decided to stay and asked me to bring hers back. Well, that was a devastating and blow and I realized she was what I call a “multiple monogamist” at heart.
Recap: The FIRST time was good because we got to know each other as a family but also as individuals. That was also bad because she expressed feelings that the husband didn’t really get to know her and she him. I took it at face value so when the SECOND time came around, I went overboard the other way—even with living space and time after marriage. I can see how that would trade new problems for the old but I couldn’t see it at the time. The FIRST definitely had more value for the whole. We had figured out how to talk to each other and made decisions together and then brought them to the husband to add and/or take away. It worked out very nicely and saved time and grief for him.
In the FIRST experience we were not in a position to pay for an apartment and neither was she. She didn’t have a job or a car and had two little kids. So, we had a mother-in-law outbuilding that we refinanced our house to fix up. It added about seven years and $250 per month to our mortgage but we ALL felt it was the best arrangement. It worked well as the husband got to spend time with all the kids and wives when he got home from work. We were able to eat together, etc. We just alternated nights and it worked out great. It wasn’t but a couple of months, though, that her ex found out about her lifestyle and was threatening custody so she had to get an apartment. This caused some rifts and it didn’t help that the time and money was stretched thin. After she moved, she felt that the husband didn’t feel at home at her place, so she started moving some of his things that he cherished over to her apartment; things like books and camping stuff. He was uncomfortable with this. He DID indeed feel the family’s home was where we had originally talked about and that was all together. We still alternated nights but it was really hard because I couldn’t get a hold of him sometimes and had to drive 20 minutes when there was something pressing to talk to him about and vice versa. Ugh…living that far from each other definitely put a strain on things.
The SECOND time we didn’t really discuss living arrangements because the plan was she was going to live in the apartment below the second wife but, of course that fell through at the last minute, so I decided to move a few of my things out to the mother-in-law apartment while they were gone for a week on their honeymoon. This was as a gesture so it would be known I was willing to move out there and also because there wouldn’t be much time when they got back. It had been winterized so it would only be a bedroom until summer. When they got home, the husband said he thought it would be best if she had her own space without the kids running around but she refused to have her room out there so she took the master bedroom in the house and I went out there. We shared a kitchen and the rest of the living space. Some of my children moved out with me when summer came.
I was still feeling bad about the statement the first one said about feeling like she didn’t get to know the husband and he didn’t feel at home with her so I thought maybe I would take less time with the husband. Instead of alternating equally and every night, I offered to have ¼ of the time. She accepted without hesitation. We shared dinner responsibilities every other day but soon changed to trading off every week. We suddenly got new rules for our home and new places for things. I don’t know what that tells you, but it tells me that my husband was being influenced by and trying to please her or something because he never imposed new rules on the family like that before. This did not go over very well with me or the kids. If you read the Daniel and the Lion’s Den story, you will see this same type of thing.
The FIRST time was very good as we had our own space but also had closeness. There were a few changes to the place she did that I thought were stepping over the bounds but we always worked them out. The real problems didn’t start until she had to move away. The SECOND time was okay but there was a constant overstepping of bounds, at least from my perspective. No matter how good an idea or change is, if it’s too soon or too overbearing, it’s not going to go over very well. The main problem was that she kept telling me that she already talked to the husband and he gave his approval and, to her, that’s all that mattered. All she had to do was talk to him and I was forced. I think a detail is necessary to fully understand the 1st wife’s point of view. The detail I have chosen (because it was one that didn’t affect the kids and is sort of petty) to share is about the placement of the spatulas and ladles, etc. You know…some people have them in a canister on the counter near the stove for convenience and others keep them in a drawer. I could see how convenient it was to have them on the counter and didn’t mind the clutter look. But, I had tried many ways to do things in the house over the years and found, in this instance, keeping them in the drawer was best because living in the country brought more flies than living in the city. The utensils would often have fly specks on them so I it was cleaner and less gross if we kept them in the drawer. I explained this and voiced my disappointment that she took it upon herself to go buy a canister: First, because I already had one and Second, because there was no discussion or asking about whether I had tried it before and if I had, why I didn’t do it or like it. Anyway, the resolve was that she promised to wash, with soap, the utensils before using them on any food that we would be eating. This caused problems because I and the kids saw many instances that this was not happening. It may seem like a petty thing but it’s not necessarily about the placement. It’s more about…if the respect is not there to talk about something like that, what other things can happen due to lack of respect? Having respect and interest in the wife as much as the husband is so important but sometimes, the husband and some wives get it in their heads that if every decision and problem goes through the husband and he has the only say then all will be well. Unfortunately, this is not the case most of the time because the squeaky wheel gets the grease and sometimes the husband feels he has to cater to one or the other for various reasons. If decisions are based on logic and right vs. wrong and not by the fear of consequences (typically a wife being upset), then the wives will have more respect for the husband and be more obedient.