Women is...: Exes


If there are kids in a second marriage, that means the ex-spouses never go away. They�re constantly around, bringing with them conflicts over custody, rights, and finances. Dr. Lynn says forging functional relationships with ex-spouses has been an ongoing challenge in her own life. She recommends that couples set up boundaries. Late-night telephone calls, for instance, should be acceptable only if there�s been a life-threatening emergency. "The focus needs to shift to the new couple," she says.

Intrusive phone calls not only disrupt the household and the relationship, but it can make second spouses feel jealous. Dr. Lynn says men and women need to acknowledge their new spouses� fears and reassure them. Maintaining a close relationship and a healthy sex life helps melt jealousy away.

The struggle of keeping a second marriage alive has real benefits. "It�s made me a lot stronger as a person and a woman," says Wilkins-Hubley. She sees her ability to cope with her husband�s ex-wife and her new stepchildren as personal accomplishments. And, in the end, she feels her husband and her are all the closer for their battles. "I think we are stronger than any first marriage," she says.