After divorce, some relationships often continue

  • Thursday, September 19, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Q: My husband has two children with his ex. My mother-in-law remains good friends with their mother even though she has been divorced from my husband for five years. They evidently got very close both during the marriage — my mother-in-law had only boys and both her parents have passed away. Now the ex is getting remarried and she has asked my mother-in-law to give her away. I thought giving someone away was a man’s job. She is very excited and continually talks about the plans. My feelings are so hurt. What’s good ex-etiquette?

A: The only relationship that’s guaranteed to end by divorce is the relationship between the husband and wife. Other relationships often continue, and it sounds like mom and grandma have cultivated a separate relationship that was not dependent on a marriage to your husband. So, when there was a divorce, although it probably stretched the bond a little bit, it didn’t break it, and the relationship survived. You enter and wonder where you fit in.

You fit in as your husband’s wife and you cultivate a separate relationship with his mother all your own. It’s not either/or. It’s also.

But, there’s something unique here — the ex has been the daughter your mother-in-law never had and the ex’s parents are gone. As a result, it sounds like you might be a little afraid your mother-in-law will always like his first wife best. Common fear — I hear it all the time. But, don’t compare. You’ll never win. Comparing is based on what you think and feel about you, compared to what you think and feel someone else feels about you. Basically, comparing it’s all in YOUR head. You are your biggest enemy.

In regards to your mother-in-law giving away the ex at her wedding — this opens another can of ex-etiquette worms. It’s not the act that is unconventional — my own sister walked all three of her daughters down the aisle because their father had passed — it’s who is doing the walking. Because it’s your mother-in-law doesn’t necessarily imply that you and your husband will be invited to the wedding, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Plus, your husband’s children will certainly attend, even be in the wedding, as well, so this could turn into a bonus family affair, for sure.

In that case, sit down with your husband and weigh the positives and negatives. Will it affect your relationship with all concerned if you are invited and don’t attend?

Or, my favorite, having clear boundaries and using Good Ex-etiquette for Parents rule No. 8, “Be honest and straight forward,” if you are invited and you choose not to attend, your husband might say something like, “I love that you and mom are so close and I understand why that is, but you are getting married to someone else now and our lives need not be that intertwined. Marie and I would feel more comfortable allowing you all to have your day. If you need my help getting the kids to and from your wedding, just let me know, but I don’t think we will attend. Best wishes for a happy life.” That’s good ex-etiquette.

— Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com.

Talk to us

More in Life

Photos by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times 

The Jacob and Sarah Ebey House will open to public visitors Memorial Day weekend.
A landmark steeped in 19th century history reopens on Whidbey

Beginning May 28, you can venture inside one of the state’s oldest buildings: The Jacob and Sarah Ebey House, which dates from the 1850s.

Caption: Incorporating frozen vegetables into your menu plan is a fast and cost-effective way to save money on rising food costs.
The secrets of cheap meals: frozen veggies and slow cookers

They not only stretch your food budget, but also timesaving godsends for busy parents. Here are three recipes to try.

Cinderella_Red.jpg: Red Riding Hood (Katelynn Carlson) gets advice from Cinderella (Grace Helmcke) in Red Curtain’s production of Into the Woods, running May 20-June 5 at the Red Curtain Arts Center, 9315 State Ave. in Marysville.
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Marysville troupe stages a Stephen Sondheim musical masterpiece. Jazz, featuring the sons of legend Dave Brubeck, takes over Edmonds. And there’s this music festival in downtown Everett …

Navigating the rough, often scary seas of a hospital stay

After helping a friend who underwent major surgery, Paul Schoenfeld reflects on ways to cope for patients and their loved ones.

Sam Bowles records the run off the water from a chalk drawing with friend and co-artist, Rhyanna Mercer, Tuesday afternoon in Everett, Washington on May 10, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Jackson High’s global TikTok star is chalk full of ideas

Sam Bowles, 18, uses vibrant videos and social media fame to raise awareness of autism.

I canceled my flight to Frankfurt, but now I can’t use my credit

Melissa Crespo receives a $2,060 ticket credit when she cancels her flights to Frankfurt, Germany. But now her online agency has told her she can only use 25% of the credit at a time. Can it do that?

Lonicera ciliosa, commonly called orange honeysuckle or western trumpet vine. (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: orange honeysuckle

Its orange trumpets announce spring is here, and hummingbirds are irresistibly drawn to it.

Home & garden happenings in Snohomish County

The Mill Creek Garden Tour will return this summer after a two-year absence due to COVID-19.

Photo Caption: Would you believe a zipper sold for $18,450 at Morphy Auctions? What about a diamond necklace that looks and works like a zipper?
X-Y-Z spells ‘big money’ with this high-fashion zipper

It’s actually a necklace, but the zipper function works. Someone paid nearly $18,500 for it at a recent auction.

Most Read