Continued Contact: Post-divorce relations with in-laws

by EPI Staff on June 14, 2010

Q: Is there divorce etiquette when it comes to in-laws? I would like to keep in touch with my ex-husband’s parents, whom I always liked, but a friend of mine told me that because their son and I had no children it would be best to fade out of their lives. Should I cease all contact?

A: Not necessarily. If the divorce was amicable and you feel comfortable with your in-laws – and it sounds as though you do – then keeping a relationship going is fine. Just be sensitive to their wishes; they might feel some conflicted loyalties. You could give them a call and tell them how much you’d like to stay in their lives, and encourage them to call you too. Then see if they do.

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Rain June 20, 2010 at 4:18 am

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.

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Laura May 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm

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?

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Elizabeth May 5, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Laura,
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.

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margie pulaski July 8, 2010 at 3:04 pm

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.

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Graceandhonor July 21, 2010 at 6:13 pm

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.

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deedee March 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm

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.

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Graceandhonor March 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm

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.

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Confused May 6, 2011 at 9:55 am

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?

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Just Laura May 6, 2011 at 10:03 am

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.

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Alicia May 6, 2011 at 10:22 am

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.

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Where are the boundries? May 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm

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?

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Jerry May 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm

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.

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Elizabeth May 21, 2012 at 5:02 pm

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.

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Just Laura May 21, 2012 at 5:05 pm

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.

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Margaret July 30, 2012 at 12:14 am

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??

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Alicia July 30, 2012 at 7:46 am

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.

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j February 17, 2013 at 11:46 am

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?

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Anon July 29, 2013 at 9:16 am

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.)

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Elizabeth July 29, 2013 at 9:57 am

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.

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Dawna June 14, 2013 at 9:48 pm

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.

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Sally July 16, 2013 at 12:27 pm

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?

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Elizabeth July 16, 2013 at 1:21 pm

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.

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Lisa May 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm

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.

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Elizabeth July 16, 2013 at 1:38 pm

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.

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Lucy July 24, 2013 at 8:31 pm

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?

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Lisa May 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm

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.

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Denise August 17, 2013 at 5:49 pm

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?

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Elizabeth August 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm

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.

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Monica September 10, 2013 at 9:41 am

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?

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Elizabeth September 10, 2013 at 10:00 am

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.

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Ann October 4, 2013 at 11:28 am

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.

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Elizabeth October 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm

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?)

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Jay December 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm

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?

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Elizabeth December 1, 2013 at 4:42 pm

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.

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Bella December 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

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.

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Elizabeth December 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm

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.

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Mariah December 18, 2013 at 11:43 pm

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.

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HelpNeeded December 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm

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?

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Elizabeth December 29, 2013 at 4:44 pm

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.

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Candice March 10, 2014 at 1:52 am

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.

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Winifred Rosenburg March 10, 2014 at 10:06 am

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.

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stephen March 31, 2014 at 4:22 pm

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?

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Alicia March 31, 2014 at 8:40 pm

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.

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Sandy May 15, 2014 at 11:36 am

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…

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Winifred Rosenburg May 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm

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.

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Jen May 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm

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?

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Elizabeth May 20, 2014 at 4:47 pm

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.

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Jen May 20, 2014 at 7:44 pm

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!

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Ann May 29, 2014 at 1:19 pm

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?

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Elizabeth May 29, 2014 at 2:20 pm

You are perfectly within your rights to do so!

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Lucinda July 5, 2014 at 12:28 am

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!

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AGC July 10, 2014 at 11:09 pm

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.

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