How do you deal with holidays and ex inlaws? - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-11-2010, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was married to DX for 12 years. We are now divorced and I'm remarried. He's been with his current GF for a year and are engaged, The custody currently is I have our oldest full time and he takes our younger son 1/2 time (we do 2 weeks on/ 2 weeks off)

Over the years my ex has had very little to do with them unless he needs a favor where as I had been going over daily when we lived a mile away to now DH and I go over there 1-2 X a week. I had been asked by my MIL to call first to make sure that DX and his GF aren't there or planning on coming over. DX has made comments in the past that he would come over more often but he's scared that we would be over so that is why he doesn't. He too needs to call before coming over (it's usually to have his car worked on or to have his mom watch DS) I'm fine with this arrangement. I have not met his new GF and she's definitely not interested in meeting me either. so this whole calling thing is just so we don't run into each other.

Saturday I got a call from my FIL that he bought some stuff for my baby and to come over Sunday (mother's day) after 1pm. (They really like my new husband and they consider themselves grandparents to my new baby. ) DH and I stopped to get MIL a gift and while we were on our way over DX texted me to tell me that he was dropping DS off (earlier than normal) and I told him that we were on our way to his mom's and to see if he would bring him there. He said ok.

he dropped him off then not 2 mins later he called his mom and chewed her out for having us over. she explained that his dad invited us because he bought stuff for the baby and that is why we were over there. he told his mom that she chose her family and hung up on her. I can see how crushed she was. I know she's been feeling bad lately and super stressed since her daughter and her family moved back in so I just wanted to do something nice for her. DX has never given her a gift, he in fact does not like his mom but he has no problem asking for favors and she jumps at the chance to do them in hopes that he would love her.

I'm really surprised that DX acted this way. Almost like he was jealous, esp after all these years expressing that he doesn't like them. My FIL even told me that whenever he does come over he just walks right past him and doesn't say a word. I don't honestly think that he had any plans to even go over there. he lives 30 mins out of town so if he did have plans to go over I would have been more than happy to have let him go over and me go later but he did not mention it to me.

I guess it just bothers me and I hope this isn't going to be an ongoing thing. They are the only family I have had all these years and don't want to be left an orphan

Unassisted birthing, atheist, poly, bi WOHM to 4 wonderful, smart homeschooling kids Wes (14) Seth (7) Pandora Moonlilly (2) and Nevermore Stargazer (11/2012)  Married to awesome SAH DH.

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Old 05-11-2010, 02:15 PM
 
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As petty as your ex is I think on Mother's day he could see that she (they) are choosing YOU as their daughter over HIM as a son.

He might not like them, but this could be a kick in the face to him. Because they (his parents) did not think of how he would see inviting you over. They invited you over on mother's day not him. Doesn't that show some disregard to his feelings?

How would you feel if your parents would invite him over on mother's day instead of you?

He might be jealous. It is juvenile but when you struggle with these past relationship and not feeling loved (and it seems both don't feel loved by each other) stupid things trigger you off. They might not always be rational.

I believe they both love each other but don't feel it. This does cause jealousness.

I would be cautious on mothers and fathers day. That is a salt in wounds for both your ex-inlaws and dx. Celebrate Grandparents day for your children. On other holidays you are bring your children over there, your not visiting . You can show your holiday spirits at other times.
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Old 05-11-2010, 02:23 PM
 
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Meh. I'd be totally fine if my parents (dad) called my ex over for a beer/visit on Father's Day. Of course I do understand that not everyone would feel the same!

I was in charge of calling and buying gifts for my ex-MIL for all occasions. I called her on Mother's Day (as usual) and she def. sounded sad. My ex had called her the day before, but had no plans to go over to see her, had not thought of her at all.

Divorces are tricky for 'ex'-families, especially when they don't feel very 'ex-y', kwim? If anything, I think my ex-MIL sees her son a LOT more for the real person he is now, w/out me there to cover for him and smooth things out.

It can be a real eye opener.

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Old 05-11-2010, 02:31 PM
 
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Your X may well be dealing with alot of pressure from his girlfriend, who may - understandably - feel very insecure about how she'll fit into his extended family, if his parents still treat you like their daughter-in-law. If you two women aren't even comfortable meeting each other after all this time he's been with her, it may be inconceivable to her that his parents could truly embrace her as a member of the family while they're still embracing you.

That doesn't mean you need to be kicked out of the picture! Everyone will just need to adjust. You should tell your X MIL clearly and kindly that you deeply value your relationship with them and don't want it to end, so you'll just follow her lead, as far as coming over, so you don't step on the toes of her son and future DIL. She may wait a few weeks for her son to calm down before inviting you back over, but I'm sure the group of you will discover some new groove that works. Especially if X MIL & FIL realize you spend more time with the kids (or the older one) than your X, they won't want to lose the connection with you, either.

You may have to accept having a bit less close relationship with them, though, now that there will be - for all intents and purposes - a replacement DIL. It's not good for your kids to see their Dad wind up in a second divorce. And it's not good for his new marriage if his parents never really treat his new wife like she fully belongs, because they can't get over you. You may need to give them a little room to do that. It's right and good that they continue to have a relationship with you. It's nice for the kids. But when you divorced their son, you didn't exactly reserve the right to feel like his parents' daughter forever, especially if that interferes with them getting close to their new DIL. I'm not being callous. I've been there and it's painful, to renegotiate your relationships with people you had come to consider family. But it IS just renegotiating. It doesn't need to be the end of the relationship, altogether.

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Old 05-11-2010, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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they really like her and my mil has explained to her that they welcome her as a daughter but i'll always be there daughter as well. im glad hes with her, from what i hear she loves my son (she cant have kids) and treats him well. dx can be neglectful so im glad shes making sure that hes being well cared for. ive expressed to dx my appriciation for her
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Old 05-11-2010, 03:23 PM
 
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In your case, maybe you could tell them how much you value your relationship with them, that you can see they're in a tough spot, and if they have any suggestions of how to help things run more smoothly you're interested in hearing them. Maybe meeting them somewhere neutral if you're going to see them during DX's time with DS?

I have sole custody of the kids, ex has email/phone access that he doesn't exercise. His parents weren't involved in the kids lives before the split, and didn't contact me until almost a year afterward. Well, they didn't exactly contact me... they sent the kids a card in the mail that said they'd pick them up on Easter Sunday at 9AM and they'd be back by dusk!! I've always allowed visits (with me there for the first while, and now they can take the kids on their own) They aren't happy with the visits I allow, and have taken me to court to try and get overnights/ weekends!

For holidays, this is the first year they haven't demanded a visit with the kids on Mothers Day. They have addressed me as "The legal guardian of R and C" by mail (not a court document) so they're kind of petty. They usually demand them on Thanksgiving too, but our tradition is cook the meal together, so I say no. They are only willing to see the kids on Sundays, so I usually give them the Sunday before the holiday, unless it's Easter (I have no problem sharing that one) Last year they opted out of seeing the kids for Christmas, by refusing to respond to emails for over a month, because they thought it would make their case stronger in court if they made it look like I didn't let the kids go over for Christmas.

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Old 06-03-2010, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well DX told him mom that she had to choose between him or me. Of course it's her son so she chose him I'm really annoyed that he's ONLY doing this to hurt me. He basically took me away from my family after we got married. I haven't seen them in 11 years. His family is the only family I have now. I'm hurt that she would give in to his ultimatum. The 12 years that we have been family means absolutely nothing to her. I have had to go over there sometimes because my FIL (DX's stepfather) said that he's not choosing sides and we are still friendly with him. this has caused some arguments between my MIL, SIL and him. they aren't "rude" to me when I go over (SIL lives there too) but it's definitely icy and I feel completely unwelcome. this has all happened since mother's day.

Of course my SIL has taken DX's side as well. She and I have been pretty close since the breakup, before she moved back in with her parents she would frequently invite us over to hang out and watched our kids so we could go to Vegas to get married.

all in all it just hurts that I mean so little to them. I thought we were family. DX has not been an active part of the family all these years. He has threatened his parents multiple times over the years that if they don't do what he wants they would never see their grandkids again but since I have DS1 full time and DS2 part time that isn't the case anymore. I could understand a little bit if this was the case but he has nothing but himself to hold over them and quite frankly if one of my kids did this I would not allow myself to be threated or told what to do.

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Old 06-04-2010, 11:52 AM
 
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I have no contact with my former MIL (all that's left of his family) and haven't for years. When we first split, I wrote to her, shared stuff about the kids, sent her photos. That stopped when I found out that the ex had a huge hissy fit over it.
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:09 PM
 
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I know it felt right to you to continue this relationship with your former in-laws, but it was driving a wedge between her and her son, and that's unacceptable. He did the right thing by confronting her, and she did the right thing by choosing her son.

We are in a similar situation, but I'm on the other end -- I'm the wife who is not acknowledged by her MIL because MIL still treats DH's ex as her DIL. (The difference, is, of course, that my husband has always been a devoted son and would never threaten, but anyway here's the story). It's extremely hurtful to my husband to be so cut off by his own mother and to me that she essentially pretends I don't exist. And it's because his ex has the kids most of the time, and she's local to MIL, so MIL wants kid access and acts accordingly. We live far away and can't give her that kind of access, and she'd certainly never visit us, so we kind of don't count. And I'm fairly certain if he tried an ultimatum, we'd lose -- she's not necessarily the world's most loving and devoted mother. But anyway, we're adults. The person I worry about is my daughter. I still maintain hope that MIL will improve in her relationship with us, but I also worry. How would I ever explain to her that her two siblings have a grandmother, to whom she will also be every bit as related, but that grandmother loves them and not her?

I know it hurts to, in essence, truly finalize your divorce now, but it's better to not be a wedge in their family.

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Old 06-04-2010, 09:01 PM
 
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I totally disagree. I don't think she did the right thing at all by choosing her son - so every time he threatens, she'll just give in? I would have held my ground and told him to grow the hell up.

I think it's up to all the adults involved to act just as that - adults.

My MIL manages to treat me with love and maintain an informal familial relationship with me, while easily welcoming any new partners my ex may have.

That would be heart breaking to me to have such an ultimatum offered. I would never be the kind of person to force my parents to make that kind of decision, and I certainly hope my ex wouldn't either.

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Old 06-04-2010, 09:53 PM
 
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I totally disagree. I don't think she did the right thing at all by choosing her son - so every time he threatens, she'll just give in? I would have held my ground and told him to grow the hell up.

I think it's up to all the adults involved to act just as that - adults.

My MIL manages to treat me with love and maintain an informal familial relationship with me, while easily welcoming any new partners my ex may have.

That would be heart breaking to me to have such an ultimatum offered. I would never be the kind of person to force my parents to make that kind of decision, and I certainly hope my ex wouldn't either.
I can't imagine my parents keeping up a relationship with my ex-husband, (or especially with his wife and children) and it sounds like these particular parents being described not only maintained such a relationship, but they let it get in the way of a relationship with their own son. If it were my parents I would have held my ground too and told them to get with the program and be a family or not.

It's quite adult to make it clear that boundaries are being crossed that are unacceptable. I wasn't there, so I can't comment on how he did this, but overall it seems like a positive thing to sort out appropriate family boundaries.

Perhaps I'm biased because my own in-laws handle this so poorly (they refused to even meet me for years, and then when they did finally invite me over, they had a wedding pic of my DH and his ex displayed prominently in the living room). DH did issue an ultimatum then, that we would not come over under those conditions again, but he's never threatened to cut them off entirely. I'm waiting to see if they accept my child with my DH as their grandchild. If they don't, and insist on only having grandchildren produced by her, then I think we may be forced to deliver an ultimatum or just end that relationship. And I think, in our case at least, some proper boundaries between them and DH's ex could have gone a long way to keep my husband closer to his own family.

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Old 06-04-2010, 11:48 PM
 
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"And I think, in our case at least, some proper boundaries between them and DH's ex could have gone a long way to keep my husband closer to his own family."

But from their perspective, the boundary that includes their first DIL and the grandkids and leaves their son's second family outside the circle might BE an appropriate boundary. They may have found the divorce to be an unacceptable betrayal of the family. They may be WRONG, the first wife could be an axe murderer for all I know, but I can also see Sharlla's point that it may be a poor choice to ditch a DIL who loves you in favor of a son with whom you do not have a great relationship. Particularly if said DIL has primary custody. Your mama should always love you, but that doesn't mean she has to take your side when she thinks you've really screwed up.
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Old 06-05-2010, 12:23 PM
 
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I think part of the problem is identifying his family as yours. At the end of the day, they're not. They are part of your children's family, and that's where the boundary really should be kept. Not to say that you shouldn't be friendly, but it's time for you to pull back *your* relationship, and simply promote theirs with their son and grandchildren. And work on reconnecting with your own family - that lack of contact is not all his fault.
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Old 06-05-2010, 01:16 PM
 
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"And I think, in our case at least, some proper boundaries between them and DH's ex could have gone a long way to keep my husband closer to his own family."

But from their perspective, the boundary that includes their first DIL and the grandkids and leaves their son's second family outside the circle might BE an appropriate boundary. They may have found the divorce to be an unacceptable betrayal of the family. They may be WRONG, the first wife could be an axe murderer for all I know, but I can also see Sharlla's point that it may be a poor choice to ditch a DIL who loves you in favor of a son with whom you do not have a great relationship. Particularly if said DIL has primary custody. Your mama should always love you, but that doesn't mean she has to take your side when she thinks you've really screwed up.
Agreed. This may, in some cases, be the best choice. But clearly in the OP's case, the former MIL chose to keep her own family intact. In my MIL's case, she might make the same choice (I really don't know), but we don't push her on it because we know this is how she gets so much access to the kids.

But it seems that having a former DIL in the picture, competing for attention (especially on holidays), does create a wedge between the mother and son. It's similar to a mistress who is not breaking any marital vows of her own -- just loves her boyfriend -- and boyfriend is in a bad marriage and wants to change his boundaries. She's not trying to hurt anyone -- she's just in love, but she is a wedge in someone else's family and most people would encourage her to wait and see if that family breaks up on its own rather than have her stay in there as a wedge. In many cases the best situation is for him to leave his wife and make a new boundary that excludes the ex and includes the girlfriend, but usually we hope those decisions are made separately.

This is the problem I have with it -- if MIL wants to sever her relationship with her own son, wait and let her do that on her own. Don't compete for family status. And, if the son has to call and reserve time or always fear to bring over his girlfriend because his ex may be there, then this is a problem. We have the same problem, and it sucks, trust me. My MIL claims to want a better relationship with us (she even wrote me a letter apologizing for some of her earlier outrageous behavior) but doesn't seem to understand how much she sabotages it by always having family time with her former DIL.

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Old 06-05-2010, 01:24 PM
 
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I think part of the problem is identifying his family as yours. At the end of the day, they're not. They are part of your children's family, and that's where the boundary really should be kept. Not to say that you shouldn't be friendly, but it's time for you to pull back *your* relationship, and simply promote theirs with their son and grandchildren. And work on reconnecting with your own family - that lack of contact is not all his fault.
Yes, this.

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Old 06-05-2010, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know it felt right to you to continue this relationship with your former in-laws, but it was driving a wedge between her and her son, and that's unacceptable. He did the right thing by confronting her, and she did the right thing by choosing her son.

We are in a similar situation, but I'm on the other end -- I'm the wife who is not acknowledged by her MIL because MIL still treats DH's ex as her DIL. (The difference, is, of course, that my husband has always been a devoted son and would never threaten, but anyway here's the story). It's extremely hurtful to my husband to be so cut off by his own mother and to me that she essentially pretends I don't exist. And it's because his ex has the kids most of the time, and she's local to MIL, so MIL wants kid access and acts accordingly. We live far away and can't give her that kind of access, and she'd certainly never visit us, so we kind of don't count. And I'm fairly certain if he tried an ultimatum, we'd lose -- she's not necessarily the world's most loving and devoted mother. But anyway, we're adults. The person I worry about is my daughter. I still maintain hope that MIL will improve in her relationship with us, but I also worry. How would I ever explain to her that her two siblings have a grandmother, to whom she will also be every bit as related, but that grandmother loves them and not her?

I know it hurts to, in essence, truly finalize your divorce now, but it's better to not be a wedge in their family.
Not really. He does NOT like them. He may have seen them a few times a year and that was only to get free babysitting or car work. I am the one who saw them daily over the years, spent all the holidays with them, helped them out when they needed it etc. He is only doing this to "get back at me" for leaving him. He has nothing to hold over my head anymore so he's using this.

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Old 06-05-2010, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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"And I think, in our case at least, some proper boundaries between them and DH's ex could have gone a long way to keep my husband closer to his own family."

But from their perspective, the boundary that includes their first DIL and the grandkids and leaves their son's second family outside the circle might BE an appropriate boundary. They may have found the divorce to be an unacceptable betrayal of the family. They may be WRONG, the first wife could be an axe murderer for all I know, but I can also see Sharlla's point that it may be a poor choice to ditch a DIL who loves you in favor of a son with whom you do not have a great relationship. Particularly if said DIL has primary custody. Your mama should always love you, but that doesn't mean she has to take your side when she thinks you've really screwed up.
Nope. they totally agree that I should have left him. They didn't like the way he treated the kids or me. They absolutely love my new DH (in fact FIL was just over here helping us fix our pipes and buys gifts for the baby) When I was PG my MIL was telling me that she wanted us to have a living will to include her for some visitation as she made it very clear that my new baby would be considered their grand daughter. The only requests that they have made to me is to not vent about DX to them and to call before coming over, both are acceptable boundaries that I have followed.

DX is the type to get angry about something, blow up then forget about it. He already texted me last night to see if I would bring the boys to his moms for a visit so they can give DS2 a bday present.

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Old 06-05-2010, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think part of the problem is identifying his family as yours. At the end of the day, they're not. They are part of your children's family, and that's where the boundary really should be kept. Not to say that you shouldn't be friendly, but it's time for you to pull back *your* relationship, and simply promote theirs with their son and grandchildren. And work on reconnecting with your own family - that lack of contact is not all his fault.
Sorry, after spending more than half my life as their family, even this last year and a half after being separated as part of their family, I am their family. Plain and simple. My family lives in Oregon. After we married he insisted that we move away and he hates my family and refused to live anywhere near them. It is my fault though, I never should have married him when I found out how controlling he was.

I'm pretty sure the thing is going to blow over, my FIL said as much when he was over here. My FIL says that DX will always be bitter and angry about the divorce. I guess I don't understand why since he's been with someone for a year and planning on getting married.

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Old 06-05-2010, 01:54 PM
 
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I can't imagine my parents keeping up a relationship with my ex-husband, (or especially with his wife and children) and it sounds like these particular parents being described not only maintained such a relationship, but they let it get in the way of a relationship with their own son
I'm not sure I agree. Given that Sharlla's ex has only been seeing his parents when he needs a favour for years now claiming he's afraid that if he comes more often he'll run into her seems like an excuse to me. If that's the case, why wasn't he going when he was married to her?

On Mother's Day, for example, Sharlla was invited over and she went. The only reason her ex was even at the house was to drop off her son to her because that's where she happened to be. It's not like he showed up to spend the day with his mom and his finacee and found her there. For him to get offended that she's spending a holiday with his family when he had no intentions of spending it with them himself seems childish to me.

Sharlla, I'm sorry it had to be this way. I have a feeling your ex-MIL is going to be very disappointed when your ex doesn't put any more effort into having a relationship with her than he did before.
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Old 06-05-2010, 03:57 PM
 
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"Nope. they totally agree that I should have left him. They didn't like the way he treated the kids or me."

That's kind of what I assumed. I should have said, "they may have seen the behavior that led to the divorce as an unacceptable betrayal of the family." My mom loves me to pieces, but if I were treating her grandkids in a way that she didn't like and DH was the better parent... well, that would be an interesting situation, to be sure. There's probably nobody in the world that my mom loves more than me - except my kids.

I also agree with you that family ties don't end just because of a divorce. A man can leave (or get kicked out by) his wife. A man can get himself a new wife. But it's not actually incumbent upon his relatives to join him in "breaking up" with a woman who they have considered to be one of their closest kin for years on end.

But having a huge first-wedding picture in the living room when the second wife comes to call is pretty atrocious behavior. Please don't think I am not sympathetic, violet. And if I were you, I think I'd be building up that boundary from the other side as well. Your ILs picked their first DIL and her kids to keep in their family circle. That's their right, but you don't have to have to raise your own child to think they're playing second fiddle. You can raise them to not care about this set of grandparents wither way.
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Old 06-05-2010, 03:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mtiger View Post
I think part of the problem is identifying his family as yours. At the end of the day, they're not. They are part of your children's family, and that's where the boundary really should be kept. Not to say that you shouldn't be friendly, but it's time for you to pull back *your* relationship, and simply promote theirs with their son and grandchildren. And work on reconnecting with your own family - that lack of contact is not all his fault.
Completely, and totally disagree. So what - only family related by blood is 'real' family? That's ridiculous.

Family is built on effort, love and mutual trust. My 'ex'-ILs will always be family to me, not just by virtue of my children.

This is really sad advice to me - 'pull back your relationship'?

I'm so sad and sorry Sharlla, I hope they come to their senses and realize how immature and controlling he's being.

There are some really sad sentiments in this thread regarding exes and ex-families. I'm really thankful that despite the difficulties we all experienced (in my TWO families) during our divorce - that, for the most part, the relationships remained intact.

Full time working mom to two bright and busy little girls! treehugger.gif
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:09 AM
 
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I agree that if you were part of a family for 11 years and had daily contact then it's unrealistic and unreasonable to expect that relationship to end just because the husband and wife are no longer married. I'm sure the relationship changes somewhat but that also depends on the nature of the relationship previously. I agree that if the son felt neglected or like he wasn't as important to his parents that that would be something to address - but not by issuing an ultimatum that their former daughter-in-law is cut out of their lives. I also agree that the new daughter-in-law to be should be embraced with open arms, but it seems like this is happening. It's not as if these grandparents aren't open to new people - they like the OP's new husband after all. Seems like they have room in their hearts for many people; it is the ex who is saying you can only love one person.

One of the things I love about my parents is that they retain a genuine affection for my ex (even though he's a very difficult person) and they make a real effort to invite him to family gatherings, to ask after him and to congratulate him on his successes. This makes me feel like they really respect the 10 years i built with him as well as the fact that he is my daughter's dad and as such will always be a part of my life. It is also to my current partner's credit that he is totally supportive and unthreatened by this. One wishes that everyone could be so adult; I think there would be a lot more functional, happy kids.

I really reject the idea that new families formed by parents who were previously married have to create their own strict boundaries and exclusivity. It seems like a very threatened and insecure position to take and doesn't seem like the best for children. Of course, we all do what we can and some of us just have a really hard time dealing with our exes, but I don't think that this should be raised to a principle. New families can flourish even when they maintain relationships and connections to old ones.
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