1. Rain

    When I divorced, I was lucky enough to have a mother-in-law who made the effort to tell me, “you divorced my son, not me”
    My in-laws are great people and I think you should try to keep contact, unless they seem unwilling.

    • Laura

      I would appreciate any advice/suggestions from a neutral 3rd party (aka this website). I have been dating a divorced father of 2 boys. ages 8 and 6, for 3 years now. My boyfriend (the father) has primary custody of the boys. The boys go with their mother on weekends when the father and I are both working. My boyfriend remained very friendly with his ex-inlaws. The marriage ended due to his wife cheating, which became common knowledge to everyone including the ex-in laws. My boyfriend still attends holiday events at the ex-inlaws homes with the kids. I have also gone to many of these events. I felt awkward at first, but the ex-in laws were very welcoming to me and I slowly adapted. During this time, the ex-in laws stopped communications with their daugther (my boyfriend’s ex-wife) due to the cheating.

      Recently. the ex-in laws started to communicate again with their daugther. I have no problem with this. However, the ex-father in law is now having a 60th birthday party and invited everyone (my boyfriend, his ex-wife, myself, the kids) among with other relatives and friends.

      I am also a full-time graduate student in a medicial program. So I feel like I have a lot to juggle with school, part-time work, and the boys. (Since I live with them, I often watch the boys afterschool and nights while my boyfriend is at work. This entails childcare. dinners. packing school lunches, baths, etc while trying to get my own hw and studying done.)

      I can handle this, but this ex-father in law birthday party has thrown me for a loop. I was going to attend but at the last minute I just dragged my feet and my boyfriend left without me. (Not to mention I have final exams for my program this week and need all the time I can get to study.) I feel like a bad person, because I know it is rude to say you will attend a party but no show. However, I feel like I just can’t handle being civil to ex-inlaws, family, etc in the presence of the ex-wife. Am I being selfish? Or is it just an unrealistic expectation for us all to attend the party? I just feel super uncomfortable being in a room with everyone together including the ex-wife. I have spoken to her before in a civil manner during kid pick ups and drop offs but I have no desire to be friends with this women. I just do not like how she treated my boyfriend and honestly. how she treats the boys. Please help!

      What in the world should I do in the future if we are all invited to an event again?! Should I decline, or attend and bear it?

      • Elizabeth

        You sound like a busy woman with a lot of commitments, along with the attendant stresses that would come with those commitments. As a student myself, I can certainly understand the demands of finals. However, with respect to the situation of your boyfriend’s ex-FIL’s birthday, I believe that aspect is a bit of a red herring.

        It’s always best to be straightforward in these situations – in actuality, you did not feel comfortable attending an event where your boyfriend’s ex-wife would also be in attendance. The best thing to have done would be to bring up this discomfort with your BF and hash it out. Maybe he would have reassured you and you would have gone, or perhaps you would have decided to skip it, and then you would have had the time to make your regrets to the ex-FIL, who you say you have a good relationship with. He probably felt badly that at first you’d said you’d come, and then you didn’t show up. That’s is obviously not the way to go. You could have easily called a few days before the event, explained your finals situation, and said that you unfortunately have to sit this one out. That would have been perfectly fine.

        With respect to the larger question of whether you should have to spend time with the ex, consider this: she will always be in your life because of the boys. The boys will grow up, there will be graduations, there will be birthdays and holidays and proms – all sorts of things that really can’t be split or be done twice. The fact is that you will eventually have to spend some time with this woman. The fact that you can already be civil to each other is fantastic. Whatever your opinions of her, whatever your feelings about how she treated your BF or treats their kids, she will be around – that’s just the facts. Spending an odd two hours a year with her doesn’t mean you’re friends, it doesn’t imply that you approve of her in any way. It just means you’re civil and that you’re putting the interests of your BF and his children ahead of your own, for that moment. If you can be a source of stability in the kids’ lives, if you can model grown-up behavior and show them what it means to be the bigger person – that will be an invaluable gift to them.

        • Smart cookie

          You are young, smart & taking an awful lot on. Seems like you and his parents respect one and other. So, I would talk to them after discussing same with your BF about them not including her at family gatherings. Things will only get more presumptive as time goes on. I was in a VERY similar situation. Sounds like your a bread winner wife and mother to his kids with out all the legal aspects too. Good luck your going to need it.

  2. margie pulaski

    I have a question regarding continued contact between the parents of a divorcing couple when there are grandhcildren. I want to contact the parents of my soon to be ex-son-in-law, and don’t know how appropriate that would be….we have grandchildren in common.

    • Graceandhonor

      I would encourage you to have a discussion with your daughter about her feelings on this issue. Consider that she is your daughter and deserves your first allegience, whether you agree with her decision about contact or not. If you go against her wishes, her children will pick up on it, and observe your lack of support for her. Your actions should uplift your daughter’s relationship with her children throughout their childhood.

  3. deedee

    My ex husband is angry that I have sent his parents photos of the grandkids at Christmas. Is this wrong? Seems like they would still love our children even if they believe I am the ‘awful person,” he says I am.

    • Graceandhonor

      It’s not a matter of his parents still loving your children, but of your ex drawing boundaries for you to respect. Give pictures to your family and let him give them to his family. As it was, you imposed yourself upon his territory and while it would be nice to be above all this, best to back off.

  4. Confused

    After 23 years of marriage my wife (now ex) divorced me last June. My nephew is getting married at the end of this month, and my ex was invited. I do not want her there, nor do I want to go if she is there. I am confused as to why she was invited, no other ex in-laws (there are 3 of them in my family) have ever been invited to anything. Do I have the right to feel the way I do?

    • You have every right to feel confused. You have every right to feel angry. You don’t have a right to dictate the guest list of someone else’s wedding.
      Could you discretely ask your sibling (the nephew’s parent) why she was invited? Please don’t make a big deal out of it though, as it isn’t your wedding.

    • Alicia

      Your ex wife has been this nephews aunt likely for his entire life or as long as he can remember. Perhaps he actually feels close to his now ex-aunt. Also perhaps they made the guest list prior to your divorce and failed to update it.
      Perhaps you could say something to your ex wife about hoping she declines the invite but it depends on your relationship with her at this point.

  5. Where are the boundries?

    My boyfriend and his 3 sons (ages 18, 14 & 13) live in my home with me. His x-wife is not a part of their lives. She faked having cancer & has hurt each one of them very deeply. At one point several local businesses & organizations even gave her money & the community had planned a benefit. Of course when the truth came out, she moved away. She is sociopathic & cannot even see the boys without supervision. Her parents have been a part of the boy’s lives. They also stay in contact with their daughter. Although they make me very uncomfortable and I get a very bad “vibe” from them, I have welcomed them into my home when I am there. Today I came home at break from work (I live a block from work) and found the grandpa sitting with my boyfriend’s son on my couch in my living room. I have no idea where the grandma was in my house & did not have time to find out. I feel so completely uncomfortable with this that I do not know what to do. I do not want those people in my home when I am not there & now I don’t want them in my home at all. I love “my” boys & want them to have healthy relationships. I dont want to do something that would harm them in any way, but I really am uncomfortable with this situation. Especially when I am not there. Any advice?

    • Jerry

      Tell them that they are not to enter into your house unless you’re there. If they object, tell them that the alternative is that they don’t get to enter into the house at all.

    • Elizabeth

      These people should not be in your home without your or your boyfriend’s express consent. It is possible that one of the boys invited them over, and if that’s the case they should be instructed by their dad that it is not ok to do that. Since these are your boyfriend’s ex-in-laws, he should really be the one to lay down the law. Or, since it is your house, you can do it – but it would really help to present a unified front (you and your boyfriend) to both the kids and the in-laws.

    • They are family and you are not, yet this is your house, making this a very complicated situation. I strongly suggest that this is a conversation to have with your boyfriend, as they are his children and his children’s grandparents. He is the one who needs to set the ground rules with his family (such as reminding his sons that they need to ask to have Grandpa over), and I hope he does so with respect to your home.

  6. Margaret

    My husband has two children from his exwife. She has been very controlling and has been throught their marriage and now. She contacts him about their two grandchildren over ridiculous things. She has sent an email to my husband and I that she will always be in her ex in laws lives and will call them whenever she desires. I am not okay with this as from time to time she is brought up at family dinner that she has just called them. It feels like it is thrown in my face alot. I wish we could go a few days without her mentioned. Is it bad for my husband to talk with his exwife about not calling his parents anymore??

  7. Alicia

    You have step children. Yes their mother will always be in your life as a result. It is absolutely acceptable for your in laws to mention that she has just called. It is also up to them to either decide they wish to speak to her or not. It is not your place nor your husbands to determine the amount of communication that occurs between mother and father in law and the mother of their grandchildren. Your mother and father in law are adults who may speak to whomever they wish.
    If the worst thing is an aside that the kids mother called them being mentioned at dinner then really you are unfair to expect this. It is not on the surface disrespectful or being thrown in your face at all. Two options 1. you are being a bit sensative and should think about that you married this man knowing that his kids should and will always be part of his life and that their mother thus would also be part of his life. In which case you need to let it go. Or 2. There really is some disrespect and nagging because they know that it gets your goat. If this is the case this a a symoptom of something bigger and more important wrong with the relationship with your mother or father in law. Address what is wrong there first rather then this side issue.

    But most likely you just need to be confident that a mention of the ex is not an insult and not a threat.

  8. j

    My wife and I (not amicably) divorced after 17 years of marriage, during the divorce process and now post divorce, my eldest sister of 200 miles away not only retained close contact with my ex, but now shares major holidays,long weekends, cruise vacations etc with my children, her children and husband and my ex. While I understand the concept that my ex and I divorced and not the in-laws, the degree of contact is very hurtful to me. I have expressed this to my sister, and that I would expect her to remain in contact with my ex cordially and respectfully,she maintains that they were very close and does not feel that the divorce should change anything, this to me seems dysfunctional, careless and over the top.
    thoughts anyone?

    • Anon

      To the above writer I would say, I’m sorry. To me, the sister is being callous and disloyal and hurtful–whether or not they mean to be or whether or not they admit it. To me, they should never be doing that at your expense. And I also don’t think it’s that easy to change anyone else’s behavior, so after you’ve admitted that it hurts very deeply, accept that she is being self-centered about it, and then focus on other good areas of your life… because you may never get the resolution you would hope for from her. Condolences. I think people basically do whatever they want a little too much now, and forget that sticking by family through thick and thin is a major big deal. I don’t have the exact same situation but as the 8th-year “new” spouse, I’m sick of wasting my time feeling hurt that my spouses’ siblings can’t get it right. And… it does hurt a lot, actually … I guess I would say to the sibling units out there, you don’t always get to do what you want re: ex-in-laws–you should prioritize being a good sibling and staying “current” with your sibling’s current partners, life, children and choices. They call them “exes” for a reason, afterall. Sorry. (I wonder if some siblings act out with friendships with ex-in-laws as a way to irk their sibling or one-up them or hurt them, consicously or otherwise. It is a good way to be passively aggressive afterall. Sad.)

    • Elizabeth

      After 17 years of marriage, your ex-wife became “family” to the rest of your family, and I don’t think it’s so easy to shut that off. I don’t know what your relationship is like with your sister (I’m assuming not that close), but it is very possible for sisters-in-law to grow close over the years, and it’s not something that they should be expected to just drop because your relationship with your wife has changed. If there are children involved, perhaps the focus should be on what’s best for them? It sounds like they get to be close with their aunt and uncle and go on nice vacations. Do you have some custody? Are you able to share in some holidays with them? If not, that’s something to work toward, rather than be concerned about what your sister across the country and your ex-wife are doing. You may also wish to turn off the “information spigot” – whoever is keeping you in the loop about these activities, you should ask them to stop. It’s really none of your business what they do. It would be better for you to focus on your own life and future, to make it as happy and full as it can be. Best of luck to you.

  9. Dawna

    My boyfriend/common law partner is divorced with no kids. They were together 25 yrs and have been apart now almost 5 yrs. My question relates to his parents. The ex has planned to come and visit them for a few days this summer. My boyfriend is still in occasional contact with the ex on email and they seem amicable enough. Anyhow, he says he’s not sure how he feels about her coming to see his parents or if he’ll want to see her. We’re not even sure if she’s expecting to see us. I’m okay with him going to see her is he decides he wants to but I don’t think I would want to go along. I am not sure how I should be feeling in this situation and what the right thing would be. Any thought or insights would be helpful.

  10. Sally

    My husband was married to his ex for 20+ years. When he asked for a divorce, she was very bitter and upset about the financial impact, and blamed his relationship with me for the divorce (not true, we didn’t start dating until 3 months later, but no sense arguing). For the first two years, she actively alienated my stepson from my husband and his family, and made no effort to keep in touch with them. My husband essentially lost contact with his son, who sided with his mother. However, in the past 6 months, they have had a change of heart with respect to my in-laws, in that they have started inviting them to birthday parties and holidays, and have asked to be invited back to the other family get togethers, provided that I am not also invited. My relationship with my in-laws is good, but they are non-confrontational people; and they do want to keep in touch with their grandson, so they are torn between inviting the ex and their grandson or inviting us (my husband won’t go without me). I feel awful they are being asked to choose between their son and their grandson. Is there something I should be doing to ease the situation?

    • Elizabeth

      Your husband’s ex is doing irreparable damage to your stepson. No matter what went on between them, if there was an affair or not, (unless there was physical abuse), stepson is only being hurt by not having a relationship with his dad. It would be best for your husband to go to court and insist upon his visitation rights. The mom as custodial parent has a lot of power, but not all of it. I really don’t know what you can do. You can’t heal things with the ex, you can’t force your husband’s parents to invite you to events. Your husband is doing the right thing by refusing to go himself for your family unit, but if that’s the only time he would be able to see the son, that’s a problem. He needs to be proactive about pursuing that maintaining that relationship.

      • Lisa

        I can really relate to this, after being the new wife dealing with the bitter ex who consistently alienated my husband’s child from the entire family, making him have to “choose” between family members. after 6 years of non-stop court battles with the ex and the child turned against us, my husband gave up and stopped all contact. Sometimes this is the only solition (in severe cases) where trying to maintain a relationship causes more grief and pain when you cannot control the alienator or get them to see how it poorly affects the child.

    • Elizabeth

      It just occurred to me that since they were married for over 20 years, that the son may not be a minor. In that case, I think there’s really nothing you can do. Unless you want to encourage your husband to go to these events (where he may be ignored by his son anyway), I don’t think you have any power in this situation. My advice still stands that your husband needs to be proactive about repairing the relationship with his son.

  11. Lucy

    My new husband has 2 children from a marriage that ended in a bitter divorce with his ex-wife. I write because I’m not sure how to handle ongoing communication she has with my husband’s father. He has left the line of communication open, as he explains, because he worries about the welfare of the children in her care. However, her purposes in contacting him typically do not involve conversation about the children. For example, the last contact they had she was looking for details about our wedding. Each interaction is followed by rage-filled and harassing messages or calls to my husband. Another time he called her up and asked her to dinner on Valentine’s Day. Both my mother-in-law and my husband have expressed that this is causing harm and hurts them but still it continues. We are at the point where we feel we cannot share news of our lives with him for fear he will reveal it to the ex-wife with whom message need to be delivered in a specific way to avoid conflict. It also gives me pause at making an effort to further build a relationship with him.

    Is what he is doing normal and reasonable? Do we just need to get over it or is there an effective way to help him see how he is affecting the rest of us?

    • Lisa

      I don’t think its normal or appropriate. Unless it involves the grandhildren, I dont see a point in it. My husband’s parents only maintain contact with the ex in order to stay close to the grandkids.

  12. Denise

    My sister is getting divorced after 25 years of marriage. Our family was introduced to my brother -in-law 29 yrs ago when I was 14, so I have known him “forever”. They don’t have any kids, so there’s no issue there, however the rest of the family doesn’t know how to handle holidays, etc. My other sister and I each have 2 kids, so when we have graduations, etc do we invite him? My sister is leaving him for no other reason then saying she doesn’t love him anymore, so it’s not like he cheated. He has been nothing but kind, helpful, etc to our family from day one. He still helps my parents any chance he can which makes us feel even worse about possibly not inviting him to things. He knows my sister is pursuing other people despite the divorce not being final yet, and he still helps her with anything she needs. My parents don’t know what to do as well. He was part of our family for so long, it seems wrong not to invite him for holidays. My mom asked my opinion and I said I was clueless. In the long run if my sister really didn’t want him there we’d abide by her wishes, however since she’s leaving him, and she’s the one dating before the divorce papers dry, I’d think she wouldn’t care. Are we just having a harder time with the divorce since he’s such a big part of the family or with such a long history is it ok to consider him in some of these family gatherings?

    • Elizabeth

      You would be perfectly in your rights to maintain a relationship with him, and in time it may transform into him being an “old family friend.” After that many years, you do develop a familiar relationship with him, and the divorce doesn’t necessarily change that. If your sister requests for you not to invite him, you can certainly consider her request, but I would by no means treat it as if she has ultimate veto. Your house, your guest list. If she insists, you may choose to invite him to certain events and her to others.

    • Pat

      Your first allegiance is to your sister because she is your blood relative. You need to prioritize your relationship with her and show her your support, so you need to ask HER how she feels about inviting her ex-husband to events and respect her wishes. Having him there might make her feel uncomfortable, especially if she has brought a date. Remember that he is now an “ex”. You don’t have to be mean or rude to him, but it is time now to move away from your relationship with him and focus on your relationship with your sister. Inviting him might also not be helpful to him because he needs to learn how to move on since they are divorced. Therefore, ask your sister and follow her wishes.

  13. Monica

    My husband and I have been married for a year and a half. We were both previously married to our ex spouses for close to 12 years. Together we have 5 children. I have a very good relationship with my ex husband and his girlfriend, and he and my current husband are very cordial to each other. I was hoping to have the same type of relationship with my husband’s ex wife, but ever since I’ve been in the picture she has made every effort to throw things in my face, to remind me constantly that she was married to my husband. She has no boundaries. When they first got divorced, she stopped calling his parents “mom” and “dad.” But a couple of years later, when I came into the picture, she talking making a point of calling them “mom” and “dad” again. She has even gone as far as introducing her new boyfriend to my husbands parents as “mom and dad.” I have no problem with her having a relationship with my husband’s parents, as they are the grandparents to her children. I would just like to be treated with more respect as the children’s stepmom. She purchases his parents special gifts for the holidays and wants to maintain the exact same relationship she had with them when she was married to their son. And honestly I wouldn’t have that much of a problem with it, except that she’s done some very rude and manipulative things to my husband and I, too much to explain here. I have never confronted her and said anything to her, I have continued to ignore it the best I can so it doesn’t affect the kids or marriage. But is has gotten to the point where my husband had to say something to her, and asked her to please maintain better boundaries, to please call his parents by their name and communicate with him first regarding the kids. She refuses, says she can and will do whatever she wants and that he doesn’t tell her what to do. I go back and forth, trying to see all the points of view but I’m at a loss because if only she had been respectful from the beginning, this wouldn’t be such an issue. But the disrespect has gotten out of hand. Are we asking too much that she maintain some form of boundaries?

    • Elizabeth

      You are not asking too much to have some boundaries, but your husband has a good instinct to think that he should be doing the asking and not you. Obviously this woman is feeling threatened or unhappy for some reason since you and he got together. She is acting out because of it. For you to get involved, to speak with her about it – no good could come of that. Perhaps your husband should speak with his parents as well. She would most certainly stop calling them ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ if they themselves requested it. But if they demur, then I would not worry about it. She’s allowed to buy them gifts, and if they agree, it’s her concern how she addresses the grandparents. The best thing to do is to ignore her shenanigans, and eventually she’ll realize how silly she’s being…or you’ll come around to the idea that it doesn’t matter what she does. Concentrate on your relationships and you’ll be fine. Don’t allow her any time or space in your head.

  14. Ann

    My husband and I divorced after 25 years of marriage. I am remarried, he lives with his girlfriend. For a number of years prior to our divorce, he withdrew from relationships with my relatives (including nieces/nephews), trash talked my family, and even prevented me from seeing them at times. Now, 5 years later, he is all of a sudden driving 2 hours to attend my 17-year-old nephew’s high school football game (first time, never expressed an interest while we were married), driving to another state to stay at my sister’s in her guest house, taking pics of my nieces/nephews and posting to his social media page, etc. It just seems so bizarre, and I’m wondering if this is his way of ‘apologizing’ for his absences and behavior towards them in years past. He has never in all the years I known him apologized to anyone, even if he’s the one at fault. Or, it makes me wonder if he is making subtle efforts to try and re-establish a relationship with our daughter, and this is an indirect effort in that regard? Just trying to gain an understanding of what’s going on.

  15. Elizabeth

    I don’t have much insight into your ex’s psychology, unfortunately. Usually changes like this are precipitated by a scare of some kind. Could he be sick, or perhaps he narrowly escaped a bad accident? I highly doubt this is an apology to YOU…perhaps he had a falling out with his own family, and is trying to cleave to whatever semblance of family he has left. In any case, I would ignore this change unless it starts directly impacting you. I can’t imagine his live-in girlfriend is happy with it. (perhaps he’s trying to avoid HER family?)

  16. Jay

    My wife is very good friends with her ex in-laws and they still regard her as the daughter they never had. For 10 years her ex husband cheated on her constantly but thankfully they had no children together. The ex in-laws are wonderful people she tells me and they have invited us all to come and visit. My wife and I have a daughter now, and her and the baby have met up with the ex in-laws a couple of times. I so far have declined to meet them because I just can’t shake the awkwardness and I already have social nervousness. Do I need to suck it up or am I justified in my denial of her and their invitation?

    • Elizabeth

      You don’t “have” to do anything. This, like any social situation, is a negotiation between your own perfectly valid feelings of discomfort and the desire you have (I would imagine) to please your wife and the people whom she holds dear. I think it is very good and right of you to support her in her continued relationship with these people. It would be very nice if you would meet them as well. I have a friend who is in something of a similar situation, although in her case it is not an ex but the family of her boyfriend’s late wife. It will naturally be a little awkward at the beginning, but the family clearly loves your wife and bears her no ill-will from moving on from their son. It sounds like they have taken her on as a daughter in their hearts, and I’m sure they would love to meet you. I would encourage you to compromise by meeting in a place or situation which will allow you some measure of comfort or security. So, instead of going to their house for dinner, trapped at a table for a whole evening, how about meeting them for a quick coffee at a cafe, or for a walk in the park? It doesn’t sound like she sees them very often, so I don’t think this is setting you up for years of holidays with these people.

      If in the end you simply do not want to have a relationship with your wife’s ex-in-laws, I think you are within your rights to decide that.

    • Pat

      Your wife’s first allegiance should be to you now. You should sit down with her and tell her how uncomfortable you feel about this, and I hope she respects your feelings. She is married to you now and should not expect you to have a relationship with her ex-in-laws! I would say that she needs to set some boundaries with them now that she is remarried to you. She can be cordial to them, but I think she should “cool” the relationship with them and not expect you to have to interact with them. It’s time for her to move on!!

  17. Bella

    I have been divorced since 1998 and my son is now 21. My ex lives out of state, and over the years he would come spend holidays with us or come see our child play sports and he has stayed at my home. We have developed a nice friendship I and my parents were at his second wedding (he is now divorced again) but I consider him family. I live with my boyfriend now and this past thanksgiving my ex came in with my son and stayed at my parents house. He met my boyfriend for the first time and we all spent the holiday together. My boyfriend felt excluded and doesn’t want to spend anymore holidays with him. Is it fair to tell my ex he can’t come to anymore holiday dinners? Is it asking too much of my boyfriend to accept the situation? He feels there are no boundaries. Help I honestly don’t know what the right thing to do is.

    • Elizabeth

      You have a long and amicable history with your ex, and it sounds like he is a valued part of your life. It sounds like he has become a good friend. You should discuss it with your boyfriend and you can certainly compromise to make him more comfortable, but it sounds like you (and your son, and the rest of your family who still has a good relationship with your ex) would lose out and be put in a difficult position. Your family may not even accept your declaration that the ex is not allowed to come. It may not even be up to you. I think compromise is the best option. But yes, your boyfriend will have to accept that you have other people in your life and his is not the only opinion that counts.

    • Pat

      Once again, your first allegiance is to your boyfriend. I can understand why he feels excluded if your parents let your ex-husband stay at their house and has him over for holiday dinners. To your boyfriend, it’s almost as if the two of you are not divorced!! I’ll bet he really feels left while he’s sitting there watching your parents talking and laughing with your ex! Personally, I don’t think it is appropriate for your parents to have your ex stay at their house or invite him to holiday dinners unless it is an extremely special occasion. You need to have a discuss with your parents about boundaries. If not, I don’t expect this boyfriend to stay around and I don’t blame him!

  18. Mariah

    What no one handing out advice seems to be considering is that there are custody battles that are attached to these relationships. When kids are involved I have seen “innocent” conversations and visits in-laws have with the ex turn into weapons used in court. I’ve seen innocent FB pics that In laws post end up causing drama with the ex and spouse. If the Husband has requested the family not maintain a relationship for this among many reasons, the family should respect that, period. If the grandparents and family want to see and visit the children they should do it while in the possession of their Father. In a perfect world everyone gets along and are best buds on social media…but let’s get real…it’s not.

    • Ashley

      THANK YOU!!!! FINALLY SOMEONE SAID IT. Whatever happened to family loyalty? I would NEVER even think about continuing a relationship with my ex’s family. I feel it’s inappropriate.

      • Bindi

        I left my husband of 20 years because of his enormous temper. After several attempts at counselling and no lasting fix, I called it a day. He continued to visit my ageing parents, who accommodated his visits and even visited him when he was in hospital. Some of my siblings also remained cordial with him. My ex was good at keeping his temper under wraps away from home and presented a fine public persona. While my family extended the hand of friendship, my ex had initiated action and was fighting me through the Family Court. I had been the stay-at-home parent and he was on a large income, but that did not stop him battling tooth and nail against me. He would not settle out of court. My parents refused to stop seeing him notwithstanding my distress and, yes, as another poster said sometimes happens, he did use his on-going relationship with them against me in court. My parents and I became estranged over what I saw as their shocking disloyalty given what was happening to me. We didn’t speak for the last six years of their lives. They both died last year and one of my siblings put pictures of my ex into the photo slides at my father’s funeral, so much a part of the family was he in their eyes. Now I am trying to sort out their sizable estate as co-executor with a brother who barely speaks to me because of the rift with my parents. I agree with what someone else said above: people these days do too much of what they want. Family loyalty is important, especially when a daughter/sister is going through a high-conflict divorce from a former spouse. If someone has left their spouse for good reason they want them to become their ex, not to be constantly reacquainted with them through their own family. My relationship with my family of origin has been destroyed because of this.

      • Bindi

        Yes, I think some of the answers here are too politically correct and do not reflect people’s lived experience. If a family member has left someone, perhaps they have done so for good reason and do not want to reconnect through their own family! The family-of-origin members may indeed feel a sense of loss, but they will get over it! Their responsibility is to lift up their own during a terrible time such as is a divorce.

  19. HelpNeeded

    I need some advice. I have been divorced for 10 years with 1 son (now 21). I am remarried and he does not like that I spend time (not a lot) but a lot in his eyes with my ex in-laws (not my ex). He feels really betrayed and hurt by this during a recent visit after the mother of the ex father-in-law died. I don’t want to hurt my new husband in any way, but don’t want to lose the relationship I have with the ex in-laws they were always very good to me and always tell me that I am still their “daughter”. Should I just stop seeing the ex in-laws so that my new husband is not hurt?

    • Elizabeth

      This is a difficult issue, and unfortunately not one that etiquette can help you with. It is good that you have a good relationship with your ex-ILs, and I’m sure your son appreciates that he can see his grandparents in a family atmosphere without animosity between you and them. It’s unfortunate that your current husband feels threatened by your relationship, especially since you’ve had it since before you met him. Perhaps you can come to some sort of agreement, where you only see them without him, you don’t see them on holidays, you spend more time with your current ILs, or whatever makes sense. Otherwise, it honestly might be worth a couple of sessions with a couples counselor to sort this out. If I were you, I would also not want to give up the relationship completely.

    • Pat

      Your first allegiance is to your current husband. You are not their “daughter” any longer, and you are now married to someone new. You need to respect him. You can still be cordial to your ex-in-laws, but you need to respect the feelings of your new husband first.

  20. Hi there,
    My divorce case is being finalised today, what do i call my in-laws then? We live in different provinces/states and don’t have much communication. They’ve never met our child of almost 2 years old, last time i saw them was on our wedding 4 years ago.
    Do i call then uncle so and aunty so; or Mr S and Mrs S or by their names?
    about 2 months before our seperation my mother in law stopped sending emails and i decided to stop sending pics of the little one as i felt that they never really cared enough to make an effort to meet her. Never sent a small christmas or bday gift. Just to show they do care. My sis in law an bro in law still have contact with me from time to time as they don’t agree with their brother’s decisions, but they won’t interfere as this is not their way of doing.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      Aunt and Uncle don’t really make sense since they aren’t related in that way to you. You can call them whatever you called them when you were with their son unless it was Mom and Dad, in which case you can call them what you called them when you were dating. If you didn’t call them anything, Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so would be the safest option.

  21. stephen

    My son and daughter-in-law are getting a non-contested divorce after 6 years together. There are two grandchildren involved. My daughter in law is a great provider and mother. She works in a local hospital helping doctors birth babies and taking care of them. She has assured there is no third party involved and I sincerely believe her. We have had some heart to heart talks and she has cried with me many times. She says that she still loves my son, but she cannot deal with the ups and downs anymore (being treated for depression). She wants to be friends and cordial to everyone. She assured me that I will be seeing my grandchildren as much as I want, in fact I am sitting with them 3 times this week. My problem is that I want to remain connected to her and she wants this also. I love her like a daughter. Is this wrong or should tell the people who are telling me that to mind their business?


    • Alicia

      Don’t let the naysayers get you down. The people who matter most right now are your grandkids and it is likely in their best interest for you to remain connected to both their parents.

  22. My son separated and later divorced his wife almost three years ago. It was very difficult for our family. He and his first wife were having infertility problems, and after a failed invitro followed by a miscarriage after a spontaneous pregnancy, they just seemed to break apart. We later found out that our son had been seeing another woman. After his separation, he moved in with this woman and married her after his divorce was finanlized. They now have a beautiful little daughter.

    This has been a very bumpy ride for our family. My son and his new wife have taken the stance that this is their life and that the rest of us just need to get over how we feel about the divorce, etc. What has been most difficult for us has been how our son’s first wife has been treated. She was rejected because of the infertility (and other reasons, I am sure) and immediately replaced. We have felt like we have lost a child, but we knew we didn’t have much choice in the matter.

    Our first daughter-in-law has found a new partner and also–miraculously–had a child herself. Our dilemma is that our new daughter-in-law does not want us to have any kind of a relationship with her. Here is what our relationship with this girl consists of: We follow her on Facebook and Instagram, and she is still on our phone plan. We do not meet together, and we do not invite her to family functions. Our son and daughter-in-law consider this to be too much of a relationship.

    I am struggling because I do want to be working on this new relationship; however, I am upset that someone else is dictating to me who I can and cannot follow on social media. We feel like we are being emotionally manipulated because they refuse to bring the baby to our house or attend family functions. There is also someone who keeps giving them information about who we follow, etc.

    We have never faced any kind of situation like this before. We had a young woman in our lives for over 11 years who was truly a member of our family. The marriage ended, and regardless of the circumstances, it probably would have happened. We actually very much like our new daughter-in-law and think that she is very good for our son. We understand that the relationship with his first wife has to change, and in our hearts we just see her as a long-time friend.

    At first we were so horrified about how she had been treated by our son and his girlfriend (now wife), and we were worried about what would happen to her. In a strange way, seeing that she is okay and doing well is helping us to move forward. I don’t know how to convey any of this to my son and daughter-in-law…

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      Just as you had no say in how your son conducted his relationships, he has no say in your friendships. If it were me, when it came up I would say “We are adults. We can choose to be friends with whomever we would like. I don’t see how it’s any of your business.” I also suggest blocking the person who has been reporting your social media activity to them as no one needs the stress of being spied on.

    • Pat

      Your first allegiance is to your son and his new wife. It’s time to cut the strings with the ex-wife and move on. She has her own life now. Continuing to remain in contact with her is rude to your son and his new wife. I really think you should move on into the future, and not think of the ex-wife as a long-time friend because your first allegiance is to your son.

  23. Jen

    I am really stuck right now. My sister is currently going through her second divorce. My father, my husband, my daughter and I have been extremely close with my brother-in-law for years. My sister is honestly not a nice person and caused the divorce primarily due to her continual cheating, alcoholism, and disregard for the welfare of her kids. She claims she has cleaned up her act, but she has done this several times. She is upset that for fathers day our dad invited everyone out for a meal. When she found out the ex was invited she went off the rails and said she wouldn’t come and we are completely disrespecting her. She is blood and he is not. The problem is that he has been more of a part of the family than her for years now. He would show up for holidays and events even when she was too busy, ie sleeping around and drinking, with their kids. My daughter doesn’t even really know her aunt because my sister made no effort to have a relationship while my daughter loves my sister’s soon-to-be ex. Is my sister right that we are disrespecting her in choosing to maintain close contact with her ex? We told my sister she is welcome to bring her current boyfriend as well, but she said we have to choose the boyfriend over the ex because that is who she chose for now. She also said we are jeopardizing her recovery from alcoholism because this is putting added stress on her. I feel like she is just trying to lash out at her ex and using us to do it. She has always been the one to set the rules in our family but we are finally standing up to her. Are we wrong and no matter how she has treated us over the years we have to choose her?

    • Elizabeth

      There is no hard and fast rule in etiquette for situations like this, but from my perspective I think it is great that you are maintaining a good relationship with the ex. Not only has he been a part of the family, but he also sounds like the responsible parent here, and keeping up this relationship is also good for the kids. In situations where a host has invited two people involved in a feud or squabble, the usual line is to say “we love you both and we hope you’ll attend. However, we understand if you can’t make it.” This lets her know that you do love and support her, but not at the expense of alienating someone else who you also care for. The choice to be an adult and come to the event, or stay away, is hers. But it is good that you are not letting her dictate the terms of your family’s events. I can understand how your sister would want you to take her side, but she will come to understand that that kind of loyalty doesn’t automatically come to people who haven’t acted in a way deserving of it.

    • Jen

      Elizabeth, thank you so much for your response! It has been a doozy of a day for my family! After thinking some more I feel more confident I am doing the right thing. My brother-in-law is the responsible parent and is also our best way at staying in the kids lives too. We raised the oldest the first 3 years of his life when my sister was too busy partying to care for him so we are extremely close with him and his 3 younger siblings. This has been a horrible time for the kids. My sister would vomit and pass out in front of them and call them names. Even when sober she told her oldest she was going to put him in an orphanage because no one wants him. She uses the kids as weapons when she doesn’t get her way and keeps them from their family. She got mad at me over a comment she misheard and took away the baby items she was letting me use for my daughter. Yet, she still expects the family to be there and take her side in things and if we don’t we are not supporting her and are the bad guys. I feel bad because she is still my sister and I will always love her, but I feel like it is time to break the cycle of letting her run things and her divorce and trying to force us to choose sides is another way for her to do that!

  24. Ann

    I divorced because my ex cheated on me. I was very close to all of his extended family and was in the family for almost 20 years, 10 of those married. I wanted to maintain relationships with them but they embraced the new girlfriend while we were still married (who I think was in the picture before we even separated) so quickly and it has caused me to be very bitter about the whole situation. It has now been 5 years since the divorce and 7 years since he left and I have completely cut off all of the in-laws including neices and nephews. I was usually the one that made sure that my kids got to see the in laws most of the time and several of them have reached back out to me trying to reestablish a relationship. I am totally not interested. It is just easier for me to move completely on. It is not really my responsiblity to make sure that his family has a relationship with the kids, that is his job at this point. I don’t want to hear about the now new wife (who was the girlfriend he started dating one month after he moved out) and I don’t see how that can be avoided if I maintain a relationship with his family. Am I wrong for cutting them completely out of my life?

    • Bindi

      It is definitely his responsibility to facilitate the relationship between his children and his family. You must do whatever helps YOU to heal. Maybe you could remain cordial with the nieces and nephews. My ex’s were teens and children when we divorced. I sometimes see them at my own children’s events and am always happy to see them again. Like you, I have no wish to see any of the older generations though. It was hurtful when at first they did not reach out to me but, eight years on, I see it as for the best. It has created the necessary distance to allow some healing to occur.

  25. Lucinda

    Five years ago I divorced my husband of 30 years. In the last few years it was extremely volatile, with many occasions of verbal abuse…my family, siblings, mother were all aware of this. We have 2 beautiful children and 2 beautiful grandchildren.
    My daughter with the 2 grand children had a very difficult time with the divorce and finds it necessary to include her father in every function she has with my siblings (her aunts and uncles) and I’m excluded from the functions because I now have a boyfriend. Last Christmas my sister had a party and invited my ex, I was also invited but my boyfriend was not…I chose not to attend. I started dating him a year after the divorce. My daughter is now holding a birthday party for my grand daughter and I’m invited but my boyfriend has been excluded from the guest list because her father is attending. My boyfriend is a very decent respectable man and I feel that it should be my choice if I would like to bring him to any family functions whether my ex is there or not, I also feel if my ex is uncomfortable with the situation then my ex can choose to not attend.
    My siblings insist on having a relationship with my ex, going to functions at his home and having him to functions at their home. I feel if they have the need to continue their relationship with my ex, I should never be excluded nor should my partner. Your input would be greatly appreciated!

    • Pat

      I agree with you that your new partner should not be excluded from family events. You are an adult, you are divorced, you have a right to have a new partner, and your family needs to respect that. If they won’t, then you can “vote with your feet”. That is, if they don’t invite your partner, you can politely decline. You should also start setting up some functions at your own house that include your family, your new partner, but not your ex. This might start to shift the power struggle that is going on. You need to firmly but politely demand that your family respects and invites your new partner!!

  26. AGC

    Mine is completely different.. lol

    I’m a gay, my new husband and I are at odds about his ex and the family. Currently my husband is several hours away at his ex’s families house, because someone passed away, and the ex will be there too. My husband is not staying in a hotel, rather at one of the ex family members houses. He is to be there FOUR days.. The reason he went there is only ONE day, the wake.

    Before going to this family gathering, his best friend invited my husband and his ex to dinner, to catch up. I was not invited, nor would I even go. The best friend so very obviously doesn’t like me, for whatever reason. My husband now wants to be “friends” with his ex and the whole family. The family lives several hours away, the ex lives in the same city as us. I told my husband I had no plans on being friends with his ex, and that him maintaining a relationship with him was emotional cheating on his part. We have been married a month, the ex relationship was five years in total, ended over a year ago. No kids, no real connection to them. Husband says the ex is a really great guy… although he has twice burst into tears describing how terrible the ex was.

    I just figure that we are in a new relationship, and that I could use all his emotional support here at home. We don’t seem to connect all the time.

    • Pat

      Wow! You really need to be respected by your new husband and he really needs to put you first now for your relationship to survive! I hope you are able to site down with him and have this conversation, and I hope he chooses to respect your feelings and put you first! He needs to slowly move away from his ex and his ex’s family, and focus on his relationship with you! Good luck!!!

  27. Elizabeth

    I am having all kinds of issues that are killing me. I’m living with a partner who divorced his wife 2 yrs ago. His ex and his parents live 2 doors away from each other. His parents, think nothing of constantly bringing up her name in conversation when I am around, displaying photos of her in their home and socializing with her. Often, we make the drive to visit his parents and she is there. It’s ironic, as they had very little to do with each other in the 30 yrs they were married. I have a great relationship with my partner’s parents, but is it wrong of me to expect a “filter” with their conversations when I am around – so I don’t have to hear about her? My parents and family don’t talk about my ex husband in front of my boyfriend. I just find it rude and disrespectful that they do it. I would give anything to have 1 week where I wasn’t hearing about the WONDERFUL “D”. I am so full of anger and jealousy that it is affecting the relationship between me & my boyfriend and his parents. Boyfriend thinks I am over reacting, but once I told him of the stuff his mother mentioned to me in conversation about their marriage and personal details, he knew it went beyond being normal. He has had words with them, but now I guess I’m seen to be the “bad guy/psycho jealous nut case. What do I do? BTW, boyfriend and his ex do not have children together so there really isn’t a reason for all the interactions to occur for the kids’ sake – like with many parents/grandparents. And it’s funny, but when a family member of my boyfriend’s got married, the ex was sent an invitation to go with her new boyfriend, but my boyfriend and I were not invited because it would be uncomfortable for HER ! (Did I say it was HIS family member getting married?) It begs belief!

  28. Rosie

    My neice, also my Godchild was visiting florida where my Exhusband resides at this time. I had found out through my exhusband that my neice with her husband and 3 children were invited to my exhusbands house for dinner, with his wife and her child there of course. My children which are 27 and 24 both have a boyfriend and girlfriend, they were altoghter at this dinner invite. I got very upset as no one mentioned this to me, until today when I spoke to my x. I don’t know how to feel but a little slighted. To give you a little background. I was married to my x for 32 years. He owes me so much alimony, no one has a clue! I have been divorced now for 11 years. I feel that this was an act of disloyality, not from my kids, but my neice and her family. I will not let anyone know of my feelings tho, especially my children as I try to keep face, but when I put myself in my significant other shoes, i feel very bad, as i would not want this to happen to me if it was his family. We have been together for 8 years now. Please help me as to how I should handle this properly. I am a little agrivated, and my emotions are just overpowering me right now. thank you

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I may be missing something, but I don’t see what the problem is. Your niece was invited to dinner and accepted. Maybe she accepted because she couldn’t think of a good excuse. Maybe she doesn’t hold a grudge against your ex. Either way it doesn’t really affect you. You will seem like a bigger person if you don’t try to force your feelings toward your ex onto others and let them reach their own conclusions about him.

    • Elizabeth

      Your ex-husband is still your niece’s uncle, and despite your feelings (which are understandable) it really isn’t any of your business if she chooses to have dinner with her uncle when she’s in his town on vacation. While I do sympathize with you, you should focus on your own relationship with your niece and remain blissfully unaware of her relationships with other people. Your alimony situation is not her business, and it should not factor into her relationship with her uncle. You should continue to remain silent on this issue, and you may want to discuss your feelings with a therapist or a member of the clergy, because it is not healthy to hold a grudge against your ex after being divorced for over a decade.

      • Bindi

        She’s not saying that she holds a grudge. She is saying that she feels that her niece is being disloyal. Perhaps the husband has badly wronged this woman. If so, then it most certainly IS the niece’s business because family need to stick by each other. Let the niece dine elsewhere!

  29. Stacey

    I have been divorced for 2 months now; we separated 10 months ago when I discovered my ex was looking for and talking to other women, in addition to years of verbal and emotional abuse. He started dating one of the women within the same month we separated as well as hugging and kissing her around the kids during his visitation. Just today I just found out tonight that my ex in-laws not only had a party for my ex sister in-law but also for his new girlfriend. My 10 year old told me “they treat her like family already”. I am feeling very betrayed and so quickly replaced. I know I have no say in what they do, but how do I deal with all this hurt?

    • Elizabeth

      I think you keep doing what you’re doing – keep your chin up, head held high, knowing that you did nothing wrong and are blameless in the situation. It would also be great to avoid speaking negatively about your husband and his new girlfriend to your kids. You can, of course, let them vent to you, but they will thank you later if you keep your own feelings in check so they can still have some kind of relationship with their dad.

    • Lori C

      Stacey, I am so sorry this is happening to you and your children. I also agree with Elizabeth, let the kids speak to you about how they feel and try to help them process their emotions. Hold your head up high, you and your children have escaped an awful situation. You also need to be able to talk out your feelings in order to deal with them appropriately around your children. I suggest you and the children have separate sessions with a therapist who deals with verbal & emotional abuse and divorce. This is a huge change and a lot for you and the children to handle to have all this happen within the last 12 months.

  30. Cheryl

    My daughter and her husband will receive a dissolution of marriage in a few days. They have three children, ages 9, 7, and 4. Their agreement in this dissolution is, for the most part, amicable, although getting to this point was challenging. We will always support our daughter in her decision and she is agreeable that we continue to keep a strong relationship with the father of her children. She, too, is trying to help him move on with his life. My husband is the primary care-giver of our youngest grandchild after pre-school gets out and we will all be sharing important milestones in all of the children’s lives. As much as possible, this dissolution is amicable. Our son-in-law does not have family near by to support him, and his brother is battling stage four cancer, with not a long prognosis. The stresses he is undergoing are huge. We support our daughter in her decision and can understand her reasons for this dissolution. Both my husband and I have told our son-in law that this divorce is between our daughter and him and we will support her, but that doesn’t mean that we will walk away from him. His father passed away many years ago and he has always been thankful for a father-in-law who loves him and will guide him as a father. Our son-in-law is very upset that he will no longer be able to say my husband is his father-in-law. Is it wrong for us to continue to call him our son-in-law after the dissolution?

  31. Goldie

    I’m married to my husband for almost 10 years, before that he was married to a woman and they have 2 kids together (he and I have 1).
    The reason that they got married was that she got pregnant and my husband’s mother insisted that they get married.

    I tried to be on a friendly level with her (my husband can not stand her), but she ruined that by being a bad mother to the boys (making her life and her flower to flower relationship theme a higher priority than the boys). She was married right after she got divorced from my husband and got divorced within 3 years again. The boys were only 7 and 8 at that time.

    Keeping distance to her helped a lot, but she is still very close with my husband’s family and sees herself still as the sister-in-law and aunt.

    I don’t quite understand why she keeps the contact going. My husband no contact whatsoever to her family.
    It just bothers me that my in-laws keep contact to her even though she is a shitty, selfish mother, cheated on their son/brother and treated him like crap.

    Am I just too sensitive in that area? Isn’t it just proper behavior from an Ex to stay out of the life of the other party, unless it is kid related issues?

    • Elizabeth

      I would guess that your in-laws maintain contact with her in order to have access to the grandkids. You and your husband may only have part-time custody of the children, and they may want to be able to see them more, or be able to pick up the slack where she fails her responsibilities as mother. From what you say, she does not sound like a great person. Although it is possible that they like her in some way, it is more probably that they keep things going for the kids. And that is a great reason – to provide some stability in their lives if their mothering is not great. And since she is still the mother of those kids, she is still an aunt to her kids’ cousins. The divorce does not erase that. I would keep on as you have been. Live your life, try to minimize contact and conflict, and don’t begrudge her her position in the family, small as it is. I don’t think you have anything to be jealous of.

  32. Ashley

    I’m in the midst of getting divorced from my ex-husband (we’ve been separated for 6yrs so our custody is already figured out *to HiS standards) we share placement of our daughter 50/50 HoWeVeR I think it’s absolutely necessary that I have more like 80% placement for the sole purpose of what’s best for my daughter…. He has the $ and everything to provide for her- even better than I (currently unemployed) BUT he’s in a relationship with my sister… Whom I was close 2 all our lives and he thought she was crazy while him & I were together! See, the thing is, is that they are both lazy and anti social so their friendship just became “easier” bc they are both jealous of (couldn’t possibly be me- I have nothing& more so AM nothing) it has 2 b my life (& outlook of the latter)… And both of them don’t feel I deserve 2 have or b positive-ity & just want 2 make ME miserable by KNOWING there’s nothing I can do about it…. I JUST WANT MY DAUGHTER TO HAVE SOME SORT OF NORMALCY IN HER LIFE &VNOT B PUT IN AN AKWARD SITUATION WITH FRIENDS OR TEACHERS OR ANYBODY WITH QUESTIONS, 4 THAT MATTER! AHHHH! I NEED HELP!

  33. Lori C

    Sorry Ashley, this is an etiquette board. I suggest you contact your divorce attorney about your child custody concerns.

  34. Jack K

    My wife and I have been previously married. We have a blended family with 4 kids between us. My ex wife is not in our life and is only around strictly for parental issues/business. My ex asked me to end contact with her family and I did. My wife’s ex was along the same line with my new in laws. Only business around their kids. My wife’s Ex came to a graduation party and disrespected my wife in front of me. I said nothing. Then spend the rest of the evening drinking and telling everyone in her family what a mistake he had made in leaving her. I am cordial to the man. I do not care for him but I am polite. Recently, my mother in law passed and he is coming to the funeral. I am fine with that. Not thrilled but fine. My concern is my wife wants their relationship to change. As in attending my in laws events. Mind you they have been divorced for 15 years. With no involvement. I have told my wife I dont care for this new involvement and feel my wishes are being disrespected but she contends life is too short with the loss of her mother. What to do?

    • Elizabeth

      If this is a one-off situation, I think you should not be bothered by the ex attending the funeral. There will be a lot of people there, and your attention should be on your wife (and kids), supporting them in their loss. The ex will just be one of many people buzzing around. Do you believe that your wife now wants her ex to start coming to more events, beyond the funeral? That I would be concerned about.

  35. Collie

    Give me honest or blunt feedback because I feel terribly torn: I am the new girlfriend. My boyfriend is a divorced man (for 7 years now) from his ex. He just moved in with me as of last month and we have been blissfully happy. He had two children with her and like mentioned we all get along. This is where the music comes to a screeching halt. This past Thanksgiving was the first holiday spent with them. His ex wife was invited with his children in tow. I had to sit next to my boyfriend on one side while his ex was on his other side. His family still treats her like a daughter (despite their issues with how she conducts herself with him and her life I suppose. The gist of it is, she is self centered and very dramatic). She is in their family photo for Thanksgiving. I was stuck holding the cameras taking the photos. She actually had to bring up me being included in pictures (not so self centered sometimes- shining moment). Family games, I wasn’t put on my boyfriends team- in general really awkward lonely feeling for this get together. I’m invited to the next one and the ex was invited too. I feel horrible, but I feel a bit hurt and intimidated that I have to deal with being in his ex’s presence. My boyfriend does not understand my feelings on the matter. I am tempted not to go. I worry that our future together will involve holidays with his ex all the time. Disclaimer: I understand because she is the mother of his children, she will be there for important moments. But from what I understand about his family, they would expect her to be present if I hosted thanksgiving at my home on e day. They would expect if I invited his mother or sister somewhere, the ex should get an extended invite. I got invited to a kids concert at school without the bf being there (just me, his mom and the ex…) Where do the boundaries begin? I want to be able to set up my own home and traditions and routines with this man and his children whom I love. I want them to be my family, does that really mean the ex has to be too? I expect some formal line in the sand of her territory and mine…

    • Elizabeth

      It is quite understandable that you feel the way you do, and a bit worrying that your boyfriend cannot or will not understand or empathize with your position at all. Unfortunately etiquette does not really provide a guide here, every family has to negotiate this territory in a way that makes sense to them. What is clear, etiquette-wise, is that you can’t really tell someone else who to invite to events that they are hosting. Your boyfriend could have a conversation with his family about her general inclusion, that would be appropriate. But if he’s not on your side at all in this situation, that’s a problem, nothing will change if that’s the case. These situations are complex, especially if your boyfriend was seen as culpable for the breakup. The family may still feel a lot of loyalty to her, especially as the mother of their grandchildren. I would encourage you to take things slowly, and to try to have an extended conversation with your boyfriend about it. I think you should go to the Xmas celebrations, otherwise the ex will have effectively chased you away! Even if you are feeling bad about the situation, try to go with a sense of calm and security, and try to get to know BF’s mom and sister on your own terms, perhaps through one-on-one meetings for coffee, etc. If you are able to forge your own bonds with these people, that will help tremendously. It could also be that because you are not married to your BF, they may take your relationship less seriously. I’m not saying its right, but it’s a possibility.

      • Collie

        Thanks for your prompt response. I’ve been fretting over this. I don’t want to start drama especially as the new girlfriend. His children should be comfortable in our new home and outside it that me and their mom will get along. I just can’t help wondering how on earth can I start establishing a relationship with his family as his significant other when his ex-wife is still around like a shadow? She was the cause of the break-up and from what I understand, they include her because she is the mother of his kids. They aren’t terribly fond of hows she treated my bf and the family. Of course for special once in a lifetime events (weddings, graduations, maybe even particular school events), but the idea of dealing with this every holiday whether its at my home or theirs. My bf and I are a sad pair right now, he just can’t or doesn’t understand my side.

        • Lori C

          I am concerned these issues with your boyfriend’s ex weren’t brought up and resolved before you two moved in together. I suggest you two get into couples counseling STAT since he refuses to see why it would make you uncomfortable for you to be sitting on one side and her on the other for dinner. COUPLES sit together. The ex sits somewhere else at the table. I also suggest you two review his visitation and holiday schedule with his children. He must have been granted unsupervised visits for holidays. Good luck.

  36. Stephanie

    My ex and I were together for about two years and had a daughter together. He is an alcoholic and addict and was abusive in our relationship, to the point where he has physically hurt both me and my daughter. After we split up I continued to have a good long distance relationship with his parents, sending pictures and emails, and arranging the occasional visit. During the relationship with my ex and for two years after, they never knew about the abuse my daughter and I suffered. Recently I had to take my ex to court to get child support and have his visits with our daughter legally supervised. Since then I have also had to get a restraining order against him and charge him for vandalizing my car. After this happened, I decided to finally tell his parents everything, about his abuse in the relationship and the problems I’ve had with him since we split. I sent them a very long email pouring my heart out. Since then they have been very cold to me and it almost seems like they dislike me so much that they are even willing to stop communication with their grand daughter. I feel very hurt by their reaction. Was I wrong to tell them about the abuse? Should I confront them or just leave it alone?

  37. Alysia

    My fiancé is divorced with two children who spend half their time with us. My parents love the boys and we’ve done quite a few things together as a family. I love the fact that we’re becoming a family and my parents are really embracing it.

    However, I don’t want the ex-wife involved in my family. Other than pick ups and drop offs in which I’m polite. We’ve had issues in the past in which I feel she’s invaded our privacy and she really hurt my fiancé throughout the marriage and divorce. That alone is enough for me to want as little to do with her as possible.

    Last week she sent a letter to my parents thanking them for their kindness to her boys and saying she hopes to meet them. She certainly didn’t ask my fiancé or myself for their address or ask if it was okay. I feel as is she doesn’t respect my personal boundaries and has overstepped once again. Am I being too sensitive?

  38. Lori C

    Please understand the ex wife is always going to be around because she is the mother of these two children. If you are going to co-parent these children you should try to get to a point where you can talk to her about the children. There are going to be school, sports, art, music functions you all attend. It would be best if everyone could get along.

    Apparently the ex found out your parents name and it is easy enough to get an address off the internet. It will be up to your parents if they care to meet her one day. Chances are they might run into her at a child’s function. I think you should let it go.

  39. Clara R

    My ex-husband is visiting my dying mother in hospital. My mum is very sick and my ex husband has been visiting her each day, including leading a ‘decade of the rosary’ prayers with other visitors while I was not there. I came in just after this had finished and found out about it when my brother mentioned it. He has not seen my mother for a few years and did not visit her at home, but since she was transferred to hospital has become a regular visitor. My son is very close to his grandmother and I do not know how to approach the fact that I feel quite upset that this man who was not a good husband, (he had many criminal convictions and addictions and was not a good father in my opinion) never had a job, and did not provide any maintenance for the 2 children when we separated 15 years ago. He now seems to have found god, but to me I still feel a sickening feeling in my stomach when he is around, as he was a very controlling man to live with. My siblings do not seem to recognise that I feel very threatened by him still. I do not think he has changed that much in his nature. Please advise me, as my mother is very frail and elderly and My mother, not his. I am separated and divorced 15 years, and he has not seen her only at my childrens special occasions.

    • Gloria

      I’m so sorry that your Mum is so sick and is dying in hospital. I’m also sorry that your marriage felt more like serving a prison sentence than being in a loving covenant and mutually beneficial relationship.

      However, judging solely by the tone of your comment, it appears that YOU have the issue here, and not your ex-husband, or your siblings or your ailing mother.

      You have stated that your son is close to your Mum, but didn’t go as far as to say that you ex-husband has posed any real, physical danger or made any threats to any member of your family; including his own child during these visits, so I am commenting on an assumption that there is no real danger posed by the last few days, months or years of your Mum’s hospitalisation being spent with ALL of your son’s family: parents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc included.

      I am also guessing that the only person who really hasn’t move on after 15 years of divorce is you. You cannot qualify whether a person has truly found God or not, but unless your ex-husband has also been trying to turn your mother, siblings, son or any member of your family against you; has tried to intervene in your mother’s treatment or DNR instructions, funeral arrangements, life-insurance plans etc during his prayer vigils and visits to the hospital, what he is doing is only annoying you and reminding you of the bad marriage I assume you volunteered to enter into to begin with, then remained in for as long as you did.

      I’m not judging your relationship, because of course I wasn’t there, and it sounds so blunt – I am sorry! – but perhaps you could seek PTSD counseling or find a therapist who could help you work through your divorce and the pain, abuse, shame, humiliation, anger, hatred, rejection and defeat you endured all those years ago. It might help you to learn not to take every action on your ex-husband’s part as an assault and attack on your part.

      As far as who visits your mother, your ex-husband is your son’s father and an (uncle) to your siblings’ kids. Marriage ties people together in ways that are not simply undone or erased in court years later. You do not have a monopoly on who spends their time with your mother in HER final days. Your son will one day ask his father where he was whilst he was growing up, and you DON’T want the answer to be, “I tried to visit you when you needed me most; when your grandma was passing on, but your Mum tried to gain a restraining order against me.” That isn’t actually going to help your son’s relationship with HIS FATHER, nor will it extend your Mum’s life, unfortunately.

      Life is short and moments spent together are limited, precious and valuable. I’m truly sorry for this situation, but unfortunately I think it is selfish for you to make this about your Mum, your son, your siblings, your ex-husband or anyone else: this truly is about you.

      • Bindi

        I don’t think it is selfish at all for you not to want a man who caused you harm to be at your mother’s bedside. It is inappropriate, especially after so long. If the man wants a relationship with his children, then that is where he should be focusing his energies, not by reconnecting with YOUR family. I also do not appreciate Gloria’s implication that marrying a bad egg and remaining in the marriage for a time somehow makes a woman responsible for the hardships that come her way. Sounds like victim-blaming to me. By all means get a restraining order if you feel unsafe.

  40. Lori C

    I am sorry about your mother. Because you fear your ex, talk to the hospital staff about keeping him away from you and your mother. You will also need to have a calm conversation with your siblings about this issue and your need for their support.

  41. kris

    A bit of a background: My bf was with his ex wife since they were 18, they were married at age 25, & divorced by 28. They have now been legally separated for a year, and as of this past month they are able to file for divorce. Also, they did not have any kids together. We have been dating for over 5 months and living together for only 2 months now.

    My questions are based on proper etiquette. There’s a few things that bother me a little inside, but I haven’t voiced my opinion because I struggle with not knowing if I’m over reacting or not:
    1) I’ve noticed him saying “my brother in law” or “mother in law” etc.. when telling stories and so on. Technically they are still married until the divorce goes through, but I feel weird being the girl friend and hearing him call his ex in laws his in laws. Am I wrong in feeling this way.
    2) his ex-brother in law moved within an hours distance a month and a half ago, and although I know he’s wanted to get together with him, he made lunch plans with him and didn’t tell me until after the fact. I know he probably didn’t mean to “not tell me” but at the same time, I couldn’t picture myself going to hang out with my ex’s family without letting my partner know beforehand.
    3) He still talks to his ex all the time. Although it’s nothing more than small talk, and to be honest he usually doesn’t initiate, he does still talk to her all then time. I really don’t mind that much because I know he loves me, and if he wanted to be with her he would, but it does somewhat bother me because there’s not really an excuse to talk. They don’t have kids or anything. Although I still like my ex as a friend, and we are on good terms I just feel it’s proper to not talk to him unless there’s a specific reason.

    Honestly, I know these issues are small in comparison to other people’s, but I’m just trying to validate if I’m right or wrong in my feelings of proper etiquette for ex’s and their families. I’ve never brought anything up to him, but inside it does bother me. Do you think it’s just my own insecurities or do you think I should bring it up?

    • Alicia

      Talking to his wife and others whom he has had relationships with for a decade or more says great things about this guy. This is his wife and in laws are his family and even after the divorce will still be people who matter to him. His respect for relationships speaks well of him your jelouse does not speak well of you. He is married he should talk to family and his wife even if they are dovorcing.

    • Lori C

      Kris, In my opinion, etiquette really has nothing to do with your boyfriend’s relationship with his wife or his in laws and how your feel about it. He is free to interact with these folks as he sees fit and your feelings are your feelings. I suggest you talk to your boyfriend about how you feel. I also suggest you get spend time and get to know these people so you are comfortable with his relationships with them. Chances are they will continue to be in his life even after the divorce is final. Good luck!

  42. Amanda

    I would like some input about my current situation. I have been separated from my husband for 2 years after 8 years of marriage, 13 years together total. We have a daughter together which he has not visited since the separation,nor does he pay child support. He has only skyped with her around 10 times over the last 2 years. He is very much not in her life. Neither are the rest of his family but they do send gifts for her for Christmas and her birthday.

    Now his mother wanted me to make the 12 hour drive so that they can see her. I do talk to her via messenger occasionally and have skyped a handful of times but I do not feel it is 100% my responsibility to make the drive with a young child when they have made no effort to see her. It is not financially possible for me to do this especially since I am saving to start school in September and my daughter is autistic and is currently going through therapy. She wasn’t very understanding about my not being able to make the drive and I did explain the situation. She did offer to help pay part of the costs and have me and my daughter stay at her place. But I am totally not comfortable with staying at her house, she was very controlling during the marriage and although we got along, I was never particularly close with her. Even with her helping to pay it would set me back around $500 just in gas. Not to mention a hotel, since I do not want to stay with them.

    Am I being overly sensitive or am I justified in not making the trip.

    • Lori C

      Amanda, You are under no obligation to spend money you do not have to take your daughter to see her grandmother. It is perfectly fine to let grandma know you cannot afford this trip even with her assistance. If grandma says she will pay your expenses for the entire trip, let her know those expenses would also need to include a hotel room for your and your daughter. She can send you a check for expenses prior to the trip and prepay for the hotel room. You can also invite her to make the trip and provide her with a list of hotels close to your home. Or you can suggest to grandma her son should be the one to bring his daughter to see her.

      • Amanda

        Thank you for your reply! I have made the suggestion that she come here but she says it is just to difficult for her and it is easier for me. Now I don’t want to stand in the way of that side of the families relationship with my daughter but neither am I going to be the one that forces it. Thank you again for your reply I no longer feel guilty in my decision not to go.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree with Lori’s suggestions. I would stop explaining why you can’t make the trip up there, which opens you up to her pushback and just say that you’re sorry and you can’t. Instead, invite her to make the trip down to see you. I also agree that it would be your ex’s responsibility to take your daughter, but since they haven’t had much of a relationship over the past years, I would also be wary of sending her off with a man she barely knows into an unfamiliar situation. Her own space and her routine are likely important to her, so Grandma should be invited in rather than asking for so much disruption.

      • Amanda

        I agree with you about sending her to visit when she has had no relationship with them and they have become strangers to her. She was 2 when they last saw her and have now not been around for the majority of her life. With her disability consistency is very important so until she has a relationship with them she will not be put in a situation where she is in a completely unfamiliar setting. Thank you for your reply! I feel much better about my decision.

  43. Carrie

    I divorced my husband 3 years ago due to his drug use. We have 2 children together. He was not involved with the children for a year a half until he entered a rehab facility to clean himself up. For the past year he has been in contact and have seen the children on occasion. However, he and his family feel that I should be responsible for making sure their relationship continues. I get blasted on facebook if I fail to invite them to a softball game or school event. Mind you, we also live 100 miles away from everyone. I am now remarried. Since the divorce his parents have called maybe a handful of times and his aunts/uncles not at all, but I am the one being portrayed as the bad person with comments like, “wish we knew what was going on so we could have attended” and “you should make sure the girls call me everyday.” I’m sorry, but does the phone not work both ways…? If they really want to be a part of their lives, why aren’t they making the effort…? Why should it be my responsibility at all…? I would not deny contact or visits nor have I in the past. Even after they never called me at all to see how the children and I were doing, or if we needed anything when my ex left us homeless. Am I wrong, or am I right…?

    • Elizabeth

      Carrie, you are not wrong at all. This is really not an etiquette issue, but a family issue and maybe even a legal one. The details of your custody arrangement are between you, your ex, and a judge. I can’t believe his family would call and put you down – how is that supposed to make you want to see them?? At this point, you just have to stop letting it bother you. First, don’t JADE: don’t justify, argue, defend or explain. You either can do something, or you can’t, and that’s final. Don’t explain yourself. Second, if someone starts getting rude or loud on the phone, just say “I’m sorry, I don’t appreciate being spoken to this way. Please call me back when you can be civil, goodbye.” You might want to defriend these people on facebook if your interactions there are a source of grief. If your ex has regular visitation with the children, he can take them to visit his family on his time. It is not your responsibility.

  44. Emily

    I have been divorced for seven years recently got back together with my ex-husband. What advice can you give both of us as to how to present this outrageous move to kids family and friends co-works etc. The do’s & don’ts

    • Elizabeth

      There really is no particular etiquette in this situation. I think it would really depend on the relationship, and the situation. I suppose maybe it would to good to keep in mind that people will be surprised, they may have questions that you will or will not want to answer, and they may or may not be as thrilled about the news as you are. I would not put too much stock in the reactions of others. Let others get used to the idea over time, and don’t be too offended if their first reaction isn’t what you’d prefer. In terms of how to tell…I think it would just be important to go in order of how important the people are to you. Don’t tell your coworkers before you tell your kids. It would be unfortunate if they heard from someone other than you. Best of luck, and congratulations.

  45. My boyfriend with children has very amicable relationship with his ex. My boyfriend and I have dated seriously for over a year and I am trying to get to know his family that lives about 3 hours away. His ex visits my boyfriend’s parents at their home periodically on her own, sends emails and calls to find out about my boyfriends family, and even arranged a gathering with my boyfriends family when they were staying at my house for the first time. I feel as though there is no place for me. I understand she keeping in touch for the sake of the kids, but this also leaves no room to get to know a new person in my boyfriends life. Am I wrong to think that she has to back off a bit for my sake? By the way, she asked for the divorce and has been remarried for 7 years. Seems as though she wants to get her cake and eat it too.

    • Lori C

      Barb, It is good your boyfriend’s ex wife keeps in touch and visits with his parents. They are the grandparents and it is wonderful they all get along well. This woman will always have this relationship with them. Befriend her. Invite her, her husband & the kids over for dinner. Get to know her. Let your boyfriend know you would like to get to know his family better. Suggest the two of you try to visit them more. You can ask that his ex not accompany you to visit his parents. Bring the children with you every once in a while. It sounds like you have invited his parents to visit you since you indicated they stayed in your home. Not knowing the nature of the get together the ex planned it is hard to say if she overstepped onto your ability to host his parents. I presume you were included in whatever plans were made. If you were not included and your boyfriend was, your boyfriend should have insisted you attend. Talk to your boyfriend. The next time you invite them to visit and to stay in your home, ask the ex, her husband and children to come over to visit one evening. I think you will feel better once you realize there is room for both you and the ex to interact and have a relationship with his family.

    • Alicia

      No she does not have to back off for your sake you need to reach out. People can and do develop multiple relationships and staying in touch woth your grandkids mom is a good sign.

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