I came home from abroad to a stack of second-marriage-blues mail. Not long ago, we published one. The Melitzer Rebbe told me that most people fall into second marriages with little or no preparation and coaching, yet a second marriage requires much more effort for success than a first marriage does.
Dear Rabbi Brody,
I remarried five years ago. For my new wife, this is her first marriage. We have a three-year old daughter. I have two teenage sons from my previous marriage, who live with their mother. My wife begrudges every penny I spend on them, and every time I come home from seeing them, we have a major confrontation. My life has become unbearable, and I'm literally being forced to choose between my wife and my boys. What do I do? Need your urgent advice, RA from Ohio
A woman yearns to have her husband all to herself...
If a husband is wise enough to devote the first year of marriage to building bonds of communication, consideration, attention, and understanding with his bride, then the wife feels secure and calm for the next seventy years. Our sages teach us that no woman feels better anywhere other than in the home of a loving husband. Learn this rule of thumb: Even if a wife is a nuclear physicist, she basically has only two major concerns: One, that she's number one in her husband's life, and two, that he loves her unconditionally. Look at Hillary Clinton - apparently, she has everything - money, fame, and career success. Yet, she's miserable, because Bill doesn't meet the above two criteria.
Your wife feels like an underdog competing with your teenage sons. You've known them a lot longer than you've known her. She sees you looking forward to the exciting Sunday mornings with them, yet you come home to her with a long face. You feel ripped apart? How do you think she feels? She cooks, cleans, runs the household, and raises your daughter; does she receive the same smiles and presents that your sons get? Heck no, but she's the one that deserves the goodies. Rather than feeling sorry for yourself, empathize with your wife. Start acting like a first-year husband. Eat your meals together, stroll in the park together, and converse for hours on end. Don't let me catch you in a bowling league or in a Tuesday night poker game until you get your act at home together. Marriage is like a bank account: If you don't make any deposits, how can you expect to withdraw anything? Start investing in your wife.
Include your wife and daughter in your bimonthly plans with your sons. Be one happy family. The minute your wife begins to feel marital security, she'll be running to buy the birthday presents for your boys, and spending a lot more on them than you would have. The love and attention you lavish on your wife is the thread that'll mend the emotional holes in Mr. RA. I guarantee you, the better you get to know her, the more you'll love her. By the way, when's the last time you thanked G-d for such a wonderful wife?
I strongly suggest that you listen to our CDs on shalom bayit, especially Respecting Your Wife, First Place, Peace in the Home, All in the Family, and The Family Connection. It's never too late to make a new beginning. You won't be sorry. Blessings always, LB