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How to Deal With a Spouse's Previous Marriage

Whether you're engaged or have already been married to that wonderful mate for several years, the idea of your spouse's previous marriage can be hard to stomach––especially if this ex is on bad terms with both of you. This how-to is written to help those of you who find it difficult to deal with the residue from your spouse's previous marriage.


  1. Assess the situation. If everyone involved wants to try to get along (which is especially important if there are kids being shared), make an effort to be cooperative. Realise that your spouse's former partner is a human being; if he or she is making an effort to treat you with respect, you should do the same. Even if you're in a situation where the ex is being uncooperative or worse, accept that there's nothing you can do except try to ignore him or her and to stay pleasant whenever you're confronted by their presence. The best way to combat immaturity is by ignoring it and never joining it. If he or she doesn't get a reaction, then he or she is likely to give up.
  2. Deal with any children involved. Don't try to act like you're the biological parent of your spouse's children. They will grow closer with you if given time and space; let them set the pace. Continue being accepting, kind and thoughtful, even if their behavior toward you is somewhat otherwise.
    • Never hold resentment against your spouse for having to pay child support (if this is the case). Realize that when you accept your spouse into your life, you accept all of his or her baggage as well. Learn to think of the child support as a bill that one of you acquired, but both of you accept and pay together––much like credit card balances acquired before your marriage. Moreover, should anything happen to the two of you and there are children involved, you'd want to be reassured that your children are well taken care of, so allow this for his or her ex too.
    • If you think that the ex is greedy or is getting more than he or she deserves out of your spouse, be very careful about you raise this with your spouse. It is better to speak indirectly about the costs involved of raising children and to let your spouse reach his or her own conclusions. Be reassured that they will be doing just that, as it's their commitment to the children and an ongoing expense after all.
  3. Don't dwell on the past. It's likely that your spouse wants to move past the choices he or she made in the first place, so dwelling on it will never help. Indeed, if you harp on about the ex, you might serve as an unhealthy stumbling block for leaving that past behind and forming a more positively-oriented past belonging to both of you. Focus instead on making your time together now a good time, so that your positive memories start to crowd out the ex memories, for both of you.
  4. Learn to be happy. Be grateful for the fact that you and your spouse found each other. Be glad that you are both happy. Don't think of yourself as the "second wife" or the "third husband". Numbers are only for the ones in the past––you are simply your spouse's husband or wife, and he or she is yours. It's as simple as that. Keep it simple and sweet and you'll keep your marriage a happy and enduring one.


  • Dealing with a spouse's previous marriage can be very difficult, especially if you came into the picture soon after (or perhaps during) the divorce. Try to be patient. Support your––he/she likely needs it because a divorce (especially a messy one) is very stressful.
  • Remind yourself that it took your mate's entire life’s worth of experiences to bring you two together, so really you should be grateful for every single experience in his or her past because it all led up to you two being together in the present. That does not mean every little thing is fun to think about, but having him or her now should outshine the past. You will not feel grateful every moment but try to call that back to mind when you need to.

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