Being a second wife isn’t all rosy
As a little girl, Anastacia Ngure never dreamt of being a wife. And no, she wasn’t against marriage. “I never had the fairy tale fantasy. The white gown, the aisle were just not my thing. Sure I was not living to avoid it, but it wasn’t something worth striving for either,” she says. Ngure got married at 40. See, in her 20s, she met a man then, in his 30s.
A married man and a father of two. “I was less concerned about his marital status because at 25, I just wanted to have fun. I wasn’t looking for a husband,” she says. Fast forward 15 years and now she is married to him – his second wife. Initially, this never bothered Ngure until her friends asked how it felt being ‘number 2’.
“At that age, we were both old enough to make sober decisions. But that doesn’t make me second best or second choice. I’m just his second wife, nothing less,” she says.
You are isolated
But she’s quick to point that being second wife cannot be smooth all the way, it has its own pitfalls.
If it so happens that the first wife is fully involved in his life, as is her case, then one would definitely feel isolated more like a spare wheel. “To date, I find myself having to work hard just to get close to his family,” she laments. Ngure still feels as though the first wife is favoured more. It gets frustrating at times.
“Now I have all of these extra people to deal with that I’ve never bargained for. Honestly, I find it a lonely and isolating experience,” she adds.
Another, Jacinta Oluoch echoes this statement. For Jacinta, being her husband’s second wife was the most fulfilling role she ever played in her life, albeit for a short while.
“I was the new ‘egg’ fragile as it gets. All the attention was focused on me. Negative or positive? Honestly, I just didn’t care. The first wife had no problem with the arrangement and we all lived peacefully,” she explains. “Well, until I decided to have children. That’s where all hell broke loose.”
Jacinta was not even supposed to harbour such a thought, he couldn’t afford to have another child because of the children he already had. “That’s when the ‘second wife’ tag on my forehead became visible. The first wife was living the life, but I had to scale down my lifestyle as well while he finances hers. It was time to pack up and leave,” she says with finality.
Why be a second wife?
If the scenarios noted above are anything to go by, then being a second wife is not as happy as many of them want us to think. So, why is the sophisticated modern woman willing to settle for second place?
“When she was busy building her independence, the responsible, husband material men were taken. So, when every eligible man she meets spots a ring, what other options does she have? Many are first to throw stones to these women, but isn’t becoming a second wife better? Take a scenario where she has met a man and genuinely fell in love with him, isn’t making their relationship official better than being a mistress? poses Jackline Wamunyu, a sociologist.
As always the past has a funny way of haunting and repeating itself. Some traditions are embedding and embracing modern culture. “Unless the first wife is completely out of the picture, then the second wife will have challenges.
She will feel lonely when the husband pays attention to the other family, because that attachment cannot be broken second or no second wife,” she says. The second wife should know what she’s signing for before making it official at first. “Before you waste your time, make it clear that you’d also want a family of your own and if he disagrees then you’ll know your place,” Wamunyu says.