I cannot take credit for the above title, but it was explained to me regarding some dynamics on Real Housewives of New York.
Third Wife Syndrome is not necessarily about literally being a third wife. However, it’s about one who glamorizes a past marriage, putting a sheen on it that was lacking during the actual relationship…and during the subsequent muddy divorce.
The “syndrome” may also include clinging to a title — i.e. Sonja’s obsession with the Morgan name and Luann De Lesseps calling herself “The Countess” despite being long-divorced from the Count (and having survived “It’s Not About Tom” D’Agastino following other post-divorce relationships).
In the cases of Sonja and Luann, by all appearances their famous ex husbands have thoroughly moved on. However, these ladies seem to live in and lust for the glory days of their prior unions (Luann desiring the royalty attached to the “Countess” moniker rather than the Count himself, who reportedly ran off with an Ethiopian princess). These relationships appear far grander in the rearview mirror than they actually were.
Sonja’s marital demise was allegedly more sordid and salacious than she lets on. She claims it was a beautiful marriage, but if you’ve read RHONY cast mate Carole Radziwill’s most recent blog posts on BravoTV.com, or googled Ms. Tremont Morgan (Do so!), you’ll get some insight into the real story.
Housewife Dorinda Medley has tweeted, without mincing snark, that the current Mrs. Morgan (who is allegedly Sonja’s former bestie!) might not be so thrilled with Sonja’s recent statements idealizing her marriage with Mr. M…
Or the fact that Sonja talks about carrying on the family name through her business ventures (rather than focusing on having her daughter, a Morgan by blood, carry it on). I only regret that I never got to purchase a Morgan Toaster Oven to see how it stacks up to the old gadget in my kitchen. You know, the one that I abandon for the more high tech microwave. We all have our greater loves in life…But I digress.
Average folks like me have no problem saying we are publicists or writers, lawyers, doctors, gardeners, stay-at-home mothers, bloggers, job seekers, what have you….but when you are a hostess or a nurse and you’ve struck gold and married more in a minute than you would have made in a lifetime, it’s difficult letting a trumped up title go.
In fact, it’s easy to understand why one might glorify a union that irreparably shattered. I feel bad for Sonja because I get the sense that she is constantly plagued by What Ifs. I think she looks back now and has mentally applied a lacquered coating on that period with Mr. M. She thinks it was never actually half as bad as it was, and had she only done things differently….
I’m speculating, but based on her behavior this season, it gels.
We saw Dorinda explode when Sonja made her divorce out to be worse than Dorinda having buried a husband. On social media, people argued that a divorce can feel like a death. Some were annoyed with Dorinda for minimizing Sonja’s pain. However, I’m #TeamDorinda on this one. Dorinda actually divorced her husband Ralph around the same time Sonja divorced Mr. Morgan, a little known fact. Dorinda was fortunate enough to meet and marry the love of her life, Richard Medley, after that divorce from Ralph. As Carole mentions in her blog, we rarely hear a word about Ralph from Dorinda.
In fairness to Sonja however, people say that the best way to get over someone is by getting under someone new. As the Samantha Jones character of this franchise, Sonja Morgan has bedded numerous men, but it doesn’t seem that any of them have truly captivated her or have come close to being a “Mr. Right.” Getting under someone for Sonja would mean fully getting under….their spell, being totally and indisputably in love.
From everything she has conveyed on RHONY, Sonja is not ready for that and for the give and take that a serious relationship requires. But perhaps once this time comes for her – if she is ready for it any time soon- we’ll see a new Sonja who is realistic about the past and what to expect from the future. Perhaps we’ll see a Sonja who fully gets that her husband didn’t die prematurely during the happy days of a marriage (and regrets comparing her situation to Dorinda’s), but that bad things happened requiring them to part.
There are other Mrs. Morgans as Sonja was actually her ex’s FOURTH wife. (Regardless, I liked the term “Third Wife Syndrome” that has a certain ring to it.) There are the Mrs. Morgans who divorced Sonja’s Mr. M and there is also the woman who is currently married to him. My advice to Sonja is to remove herself from the Mrs. Morgan Club and leave the handling of that legendary last name to her daughter. She could then forge ahead anew with ventures under the Tremont name.
To paraphrase a popular Israeli expression: You change your name, you change your luck.
Incidentally, Tremont Toasters has a very nice ring to it.