Welcome to the British Second Wives Club

The BSWC was founded in 2005 to provide help, advice and support for women who are experiencing the trials and tribulations of being with a man who has a past. We hope you will find our site useful, or you may wish to join our private Forum, where we have over 300,000 posts from thousands of members on subjects ranging from being a step-mother, to difficult ex-wives, to financial and legal issues. The Forum is for second wives or partners only and we welcome women of all nationalities.

Books, Films & TV

  • How the French Invented Love: Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance
    Marilyn Yalom
    ISBN 0062048317
    Read review
  • Why Him, Why Her?
    Helen Fisher
    ISBN 0805082921
  • Against Love
    Laura Kipnis
    ISBN 0375719326
    Read review
  • Moving on: Breaking Up Without Breaking Down
    Suzie Hayman
    ISBN 0091856256
  • Attachment and Loss: Separation – Anxiety and Anger Vol 2
    John Bowlby
    ISBN 0140138382
  • In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People
    George Simon Jr.
    ISBN 145265378X
  • Why Men Love Bitches
    Sherry Argov
    ISBN 1580627560
  • The Emotionally Abusive Relationship
    Beverly Engel
    ISBN 0471454036
  • Overcoming Guilt
    Windy Dryden
    ISBN 0859696863
  • Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps
    Allan and Barbara Pease
    ISBN 0752846191
  • Dating the Divorced Man
    Christie Hartman
    ISBN 1598691414
  • How to Survive your Boyfriend’s Divorce
    Robyn Todd & Lesley Dormen
    ISBN 0871319225
  • Getting it Right This Time
    Barry W. McCarthy
    ISBN 0415951690
  • The Vibrant Relationship
    Kirsten Seidenfaden
    ISBN 185575813X
  • Loving Him without Losing You
    Beverly Engel
    ISBN 0471409790
  • The Nice Factor
    Jo Ellen Gryzb & Robin Chandler
    ISBN 1905745362
  • Love Smart
    Dr. Phil McGraw
    ISBN 0743551893
  • Ex-Wives and Ex-Lives: Survival Guide for the Next Wife
    Paula J. Egner
    ISBN 097529640X
  • The Ex-Wife Syndrome
    Sandra S. Kahn
    ISBN 0394576780
  • Parents Are Forever: A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming Successful Co-Parents After Divorce
    Shirley Thomas
    ISBN 0964637820
  • Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Shared Custody Work
    Isolina Ricci
    ISBN 0026025507
  • Ex Etiquette for Parents: Good Behaviour After a Divorce or Separation
    Jann Blackstone-Ford, Sharyl Jupe
    ISBN 1556525516
  • Stepwives: 10 Steps to Help Ex-Wives and Stepmothers End the Struggle and Put the Kids First
    Louise Oxhorn
    ISBN 0743222466
  • The Guide for Separated Parents: Putting Your Children First
    Karen and Nick Woodall
    ISBN 074994000X
  • Stepmonster
    Wednesday Martin
    ISBN 0618758194
  • The Courage to be a Stepmom
    Sue Patton Thoele
    ISBN 1482040565
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Stepparenting
    Ericka Lutz
    ISBN 0028624076
  • Relate Guide to Step-families
    Suzie Hayman
    ISBN 0091856663
  • Wonderful Ways to be a Step-parent
    Judy Ford
    ISBN 1573241474
  • Stepmotherhood
    Cherie Burns
    ISBN 0609807447
  • Making Friends with your Stepchildren
    Rosemary Wells
    ISBN 0859698467
  • Help…I’m a Stepmother
    Sonja Ridden
    ISBN 1843580551
  • Warm and Wonderful Stepmothers of Famous People
    Sherry Wells
    ISBN 0934981108
  • The Single Girl’s Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids and His Ex-Wife: Becoming a Stepmother with Humor and Grace
    Sally Bjornsen
    ISBN 0451214196
  • Instant Parent
    Suzy Kalter
    ISBN 0425047377
  • The Step-parent’s Parachute
    Flora McEvedy
    ISBN 0749941243
  • The Birth of an Adoptive, Foster or Stepmother: Beyond Biological Mothering Attachments
    Barbara Waterman
    ISBN 1843107244
  • The Enlightened Stepmother
    Perdita Norwood
    ISBN 038079604X
  • Becoming a Stepfamily
    Patricia L. Papernow
    ISBN 0881633097
  • Loving Other People’s Children
    Deborah Fowler
    ISBN 0091773865
  • Loving Someone Else’s Child
    Angela Elwell Hunt
    ISBN 0842338632
  • Beyond Toddlerdom
    Dr. Christopher Green
    ISBN 0091816246
  • Why Did You Have to Get a Divorce? and When Can I Get a Hamster?: A Guide to Parenting Through Divorce
    Anthony E. Wolf
    ISBN 0374525684
  • Helping Children Cope with Divorce
    Edward Teyber
    ISBN 078795554X
  • It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear
    Vicki Lansky
    ISBN 0916773477
  • Two Homes
    Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton
    ISBN 0744589258
  • Two of Everything
    Babette Cole
    ISBN 0099220628
  • Mum and Dad Split Up
    Elizabeth O’Loughlin, Kayleigh Adams
    ISBN 1844930203
  • When a Parent Marries Again
    Marge Eaton Heegaard
    ISBN 0962050261
  • Dinosaur’s Divorce
    Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
    ISBN 0316109967
  • Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Shared Custody Work
    Isolina Ricci
    ISBN 0026025507
  • Parents Are Forever: A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming Successful Co-Parents After Divorce
    Shirley Thomas
    ISBN 0964637820
  • Help, Hope and Happiness
    Libby Rees
    ISBN 1905517025
  • Betrayal of the Child
    Stewart Rein
    ISBN 0971147205
  • The Manipulative Child
    Ernest Swihart, Patrick Cotter
    ISBN 0553379496
  • When You’re About to go off the Deep End, Don’t Take Your Kids With You
    Kelly Nault
    ISBN 0973493801
  • Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life
    Susan Forward
    ISBN 0553814826
  • The Custody Minefield
    Michael Robinson
    ISBN 0955075130
  • Divorce Poison
    Richard A. Warshak
    ISBN 0061863262
    Read review
  • Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome
    Amy J L Baker
    ISBN 0393705196
  • Caught in the Middle: Protecting the Children of High Conflict Divorce
    Carla Garrity, Mitchell Baris
    ISBN 0787938793
  • Divorce Casualties: Protecting Your Children from Parental Alienation
    Douglas Damall
    ISBN 0878332081
  • Family Court Hell
    Mark Harris
    ISBN 1906206120d
  • Divorce for Dummies
    Thelma Fisher, Hilary Woodward, John Ventura, Mary Reed
    ISBN 0470741287
  • What Maisie Knew
    Henry James
    ISBN 1490920609
  • Jane Eyre
    Charlotte Bronte
    ISBN 1484160916
  • Anna Karenina
    ISBN 0451528611
  • Loving Frank
    Nancy Horan
    ISBN 0345495004
  • The Fountainhead
    Ayn Rand
    ISBN 0141188626
  • Rebecca
    Daphne du Maurier
    ISBN 1844080382
  • The Second Wife
    Elizabeth Buchan
    ISBN 0141019883
  • Other People’s Children
    Joanna Trollope
    ISBN 0552997889
  • Repercussions of Women
    Josie Brookes
    ISBN 1849230633
  • The Step-Mothers’ Support Group
    Sam Baker
    ISBN 000730255X
    Read review
  • The Second Wive’s Club
    Jane Moore
    ISBN 0099465035
  • The Stepmother
    Carrie Adams
    ISBN 0755329570
  • The Road
    Austin Coates
    ISBN 9622090788
  • A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce
    Alec Baldwin
    ISBN 0312363362
  • A Scandalous Life
    Mary S. Lovell
    ISBN 1857024699
  • Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge
    Eleanor Herman
    ISBN 0060585447
  • The Big Wedding
    Read review
  • A Separation
    Read review
  • The Boys Are Back
  • What Maisie Knew
  • Before Sunrise
    Read review
  • Before Sunset
    Read review
  • Before Midnight
    Read review
  • Mrs. Doubtfire
  • Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
  • The Sound of Music
  • Stepmom
  • The Secret Lives of Second Wives
  • Downton Abbey
  • The 7.39
  • Lady Edith
    Character from Downton Abbey
  • Anna
    Character from Downton Abbey

Book by a BSWC member – “Keeping my Head” by Charlotte Chapman

fl86For several years the BSWC saved my sanity as I “battled” with my husband’s toxic and narcissistic first wife. This book is about her harassment of my husband, myself and our family, and the ultimate very extreme and tragic results.In addition to the insults and attacks aimed directly at me, we had a daily struggle against parental alienation, which made at least one step-child angry and violent, and ultimately tipped my husband into suicide attempts and a disappearance that lasted ten days. After his return, the harassment continued; his mental health deteriorated into psychosis and his behaviour grew erratic and dangerous.Instead of writing the book with the wisdom of hindsight, I deliberately decided to reproduce my BSWC posts from the time. I wanted to represent what living with a vengeful and bitter ex-wife feels like while you are going through it – “warts and all” desperation. With permission, I’ve used the replies from BSWC members who really helped me get through, and along the way, became my lasting friends.

Unfortunately my story did not have a happy ending, but I wrote the book in the hopes that it would highlight the stresses of living as a second wife and stepmother, and help other women feel they are not alone. I also formed a new charity for domestic abuse support, because I feel strongly that the action of first wives against their ex-husbands and the husbands’ subsequent partners is a form of domestic violence. It’s little known but it is horrendously destructive. The charity (Safe, Strong, Secure) takes a very wide definition of domestic violence – as any abusive or harassing behaviour inflicted upon a family or its individual members, and it supports any victim of abuse, male or female, young or old.

Your Reviews

“Divorce Poison” by Dr. Richard Warshak

Reviewed by Keen Reader

This excellent book has probably saved my husband’s relationship with his children.  Until he read this, he still had the naive idea that as the mother of his children, his ex-wife would never do anything to hurt them, and that, no matter how odd her behaviour seemed, as a mother, she knew what was ‘best’ for them.   Then he read this book and suddenly realised that she ticked just about every single box when it came to parental alienation.  Being aware of what is going on is a first step, but it is not enough.   And he also learnt that it is emphatically not good for children to be manipulated in this way.   Dr. Warshak gives some very good practical advice about what to do in this situation, and fortunately, my husband realised it was time to challenge his ex-wife, and set the record straight with his kids.

Three great films: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight

Reviewed by Twiglet

Warning:  Spoiler alert!  This film trilogy charts the relationship between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) from the moment when they meet on a train to a crisis point, eighteen years later, by which time Celine has become Jesse’s second wife.   These are not films for action fans, and there is not much of a plot in any of the films; in the first one, Jesse and Celine meet on a train, and then spend a night wandering around Vienna talking.  In the second one, (both set and made nine years later) Jesse is in Paris on a book tour, Celine comes to one of his book readings, and they wander around Paris, talking.  In the third one (again set and made nine years later), they are on holiday in Greece.  There is a bit less wandering in this film, but still lots of talking, and this time one of the issues is Jesse’s wish to spend more time with his son from his first marriage.   Romantic, funny, poignant, and utterly believable.

“Against Love” by Laura Kipnis

Reviewed by Keen Reader

This book might have been better entitled ‘Against Unhappy Marriage’, because it is not against love at all. Instead, it is an insightful, irreverent, and often hilarious look at why people stay together when they don’t want to stay together. A perfect read for anyone who is feeling guilty about the end of a bad marriage or relationship. One of my favourite bits is where the author asks why it is the answer to to any relationship problems is always, ‘work harder!’ – or, as she puts it, ‘the language of the salt mine’.

“The Big Wedding” A movie

Reviewed by Jane

Starring Robert de Niro (Don), Diane Keaton (his ex-wife Ellie) and Susan Sarandon (Bebe, Don’s other half and Ellie’s former best friend), Don, Ellie and Bebe are forced to spend the weekend together for the wedding of their adopted son, Alejandro.  Hollywood manages to put an improbable spin on this common and often stressful situation: it is romantic, funny and – believe it or not! – everyone likes the second wife, even the first one.

“A Separation” A movie

Reviewed by Keen Reader

After two years of trying, a middle class Iranian couple, Nader and Simin, have obtained a visa to move abroad, and Simin feels they cannot pass up this opportunity for a better life.  Nader, however, does not want to leave his elderly father, who has Alzheimer’s, and Simin files for divorce.  Their eleven year old daughter, Termeh, says she will not go abroad with her mother, most likely because she knows her mother will not leave without her and this way she can keep her parents together.  The plot of this morally complex, slow-moving two hour film centres itself around an argument that erupts between Nader and a young woman, Razieh, who has come to work as a carer for his father while he is at work, and the impact that this and his disintegrating marriage has on his family and Termeh.  Realistic, understated, insightful and moving.   Persian with English subtitles.

“How the French Invented Love” by Marilyn Yalom

Reviewed by Keen Reader

In the introduction to this 900 year history of love and romance in France, the author refers to a survey of Americans and French aged fifty to sixty-four.  83% of the Americans thought that a marriage without ‘radiant’ sex could be considered a good and loving marriage.  Only 34% of the French respondents agreed.  Therein lies a difference in attitude to marriage that many unhappily married people will be all too familiar with, because sex, or lack of it, is one of the main reasons why people have affairs or look to end a marriage and find a new partner.   For some people, passion, love, sex and romance are as necessary to life as food or oxygen; for others, marriage as an institution is far more important, and anyone who strays for such trivial reasons is a disgrace to society and should be blamed, shamed and vilified.

“The Stepmothers Support Group” by Sam Baker

Reviewed by ‘The Mug’

A warm, reassuring and uplifting book from an author who has clearly been there herself. This is a book about female friendship, but also about the various stepmother situations second wives and partners can find themselves in. Single career woman Eve, for example, who falls on love with widower Ian, who comes with a ready made family of three children, the eldest of whom is downright hostile. Then there’s Clare, single mum to teenager Lou, whose father decides to re-enter her life after 14 years of no contact, and Lily, whose boyfriend comes with a small ‘mini me’ that she finds herself taking the lion’s share of responsibility for. Melanie, building up her online business at the same time as a relationship with her partner’s daughter, finds this unexpected situation difficult to deal with. Finally, wise Mandy completes the group, trying so hard to stitch together a blended family, with little or no support from her new partner and respective teenage children. This diverse group find refuge, solace and support in their regular SSG meetings in a coffee shop in London, as they are forced to face their futures as well as confront their pasts.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can highly recommend it to all my friends on BSWC.

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