How to Avoid Becoming a 'Starter Wife'
3 months ago
New TLC show follows the first spouses to famous men
"Marrying later has lowered the risk somewhat for quick divorces," he tells Women's Health. "But on the other hand, people are doing a lot of things during that waiting period that are not helping" and that increase the risk of becoming a starter wife, he says, like having more sexual partners, conceiving kids out of wedlock, and living together before engagement.
However, a heavily nicked and notched bedpost isn't likely the case for some of TLC's "starter wives." Liza Morales met Odom at the age of 14 and, on the show, is poked fun at by her friends for being a "Lamar Virgin" (and for not having had sex with anyone else since). Additionally, both Simmons and Taylor met their exes at the age of 11; Josie Harris, who has three children with her ex-fiancé, Mayweather, met him at the age of 16 (and she credits herself for creating the ego that's helped drive his championship career: "I built him up mentally, I helped him to be very cocky and confident, I was the backbone.")
"Many of these women get involved in these relationships when they are young and haven't carved out their own identities," says Lesli M. Doares, a marriage and family therapist. "They then put the needs and demands of their partners ahead of their own. Instead of being complementary partners, they become an extension of the man's life. They haven't learned how to set the appropriate boundaries that a successful marriage requires. You can't be taken for granted if you are a full and equal partner. It's a matter of how a woman views herself and how she honors her own requirements in a relationship. Find your premise."
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Zakia Baum admits to making too many sacrifices in her relationship with rapper Maino. "We've all been there," she says.
Morales adds, "Love makes you do stupid things, and hindsight is always 20/20. When you love somebody and know them to the core, you wanna stick it out."
But it's that determination that Joseph-Taylor says can also be women's downfall.
"As women, we're raised to stick it out," she says. "And if you don't, you're a failure. If you don't keep your family together, [people think] 'What kind of woman, are you?' So, anyone who asks [us], 'Why did you stay?' Trust me, it's something we're taught; it's not necessarily a conscious thought."
But psychiatrist Carole Lieberman isn't accepting excuses.
"Starter wives become too complacent and think that even though their man is becoming more famous, he'll accept them as they are," she says. "The wives need to grow, too, and to take it up a notch. Otherwise, the husband, now full of himself, will look at his wife wearing her flannel pajamas instead of lingerie and no makeup, with no new interests, and will say to himself, 'I can do better than this now.'"
Though some may believe the phrase "starter wives" bears a negative connotation, Simmons rejects that idea because the status "made them who we are." Still, she's learned a lesson or two.
"When I look back, I'd do it all over again, but you have to know your self-worth first."
"Starter Wives Confidential" premieres January 29 at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST on TLC.