Does divorcing your spouse mean divorcing your in-laws?

Another aspect of life after divorce is your relationship with your ex’s family and you may be wondering if divorcing your spouse means divorcing your in-laws.

This is obviously influenced by the relationship you’ve had with them during the marriage and I think also by the duration of your marriage. It’s also a two-way street – both parties have to want to keep the relationship alive and both have to decide not to take sides.

Judy had been married for twenty-eight years – plenty long enough to forge relationships with her ex’s family. When I asked her how things were between her and her former in-laws, here’s the story she told me:

Four or five years ago, my youngest daughter had gone to my former sister-in-law’s house for their Thanksgiving dinner – we always used to have Thanksgiving with his family. Anyway that year, she said to me,

Friends with your in-laws after divorce|divorce support|Since My Divorce

Divorcing your spouse doesn’t mean divorcing your in-laws too

“Mom, something tells me I need to go this year.”

And I was fine with that. My mother-in-law, her grandma was in a nursing home and on the Saturday they had all had dinner there with her. Later my daughter called and said,

“Mom, grandma died this afternoon.”

I really wanted to go and be with them then. My former sister-in-law was fine with me going and I ended up staying at her house.

I went to the funeral and I saw my ex – he was staying somewhere else because there wasn’t room at his sister’s. I would not have recognized him. He had lost so much weight. He did bring his wife and I met her briefly. I chatted with my ex’s brothers and sisters and cousins. Nobody ever said a word about the divorce. They were so glad that I had come.

For his mom, serving Thanksgiving meals was her thing. She loved to cook. She would start cooking pies in September. We always joked that she’d have a pie for each of us. A lot of the funeral was us sitting at Grandma’s table, chatting. I said,

“I have sat at her table for twenty-eight years. I needed to come.”

I don’t think my ex got that but his sister and her husband did. She said,

“I told him, you might have divorced Judy but we didn’t.”

That’s how the family took it.

The Divorce Coach Says

I like to think that sometimes people hold back from you after divorce because they’re not sure what they should say or how they should treat you. May be they don’t have friends who’ve been through divorce, maybe they’re worried that you don’t want to be in touch with them. It’s a whole lot easier to know what to say to someone ending their marriage when you’ve been through divorce yourself or when someone else takes the lead.

So it’s up to you to make the first move. It’s up to you to reach out to them and show them that you still value their friendship. It’s also up to you to set the tone for the relationship … just as first dates don’t want to hear about what was wrong with your marriage, your ex’s family doesn’t want to hear about all the bad things your ex’s has done.

Re-uniting with your former in-laws at a funeral may not be the best circumstance but it does have a lot of the essential elements for keeping it friendly and avoiding awkwardness – you’re there for a specific reason, there are other people around and you can control how long you stay. Judy chose to stay with her former SIL but if that makes you feel awkward you can always stay at a hotel.

The only former in-laws I have are my brother-in-law, his wife and their daughter who live on the East Coast. Pretty shortly after our divorce, they wrote to me that “family is forever” and I appreciated that – I’ve always enjoyed their company. We’ve exchanged emails and gifts but since our divorce I’ve only seen my BIL once or twice when he was in Colorado on business. If I was in that part of the country, I would definitely try to arrange dinner with them.

How are your relations with your in-laws? Do you want to stay friends with them? Have you asked them not to take sides?

Telling your family and your in-laws about the end of your marriage is about going public with your divorce and this is just one of the modules in my online divorce coaching program, My Divorce Pal. There are over 50 modules in the program which are all designed to support you through your divorce so you don’t have to do this alone, so you understand your options and so you can feel confident about the decisions you’re making. My Divorce Pal is an affordable monthly membership program – joining is quick and easy and you won’t regret it.

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  • http://scribblingsofasoccermom.com Soccer Mom

    This is a perfect post!! I still call my ex’s mother mom and I am friends w/them on Facebook, I email his mother & step dad and adore them. I send them birthday cards & gifts & Christmas cards. I always send links to my picasso photos from vacations with the kids, and to the ex too for that matter. He doesn’t have siblings, but I still talk to one of his aunts, as well. These people are in my children’s lives all the time (the ex’s parents spend long vacations with the kids each summer) and I loved them and the loved me. I still love them. My new husband is perfectly fine with this…and greets them at soccer, too.

    • Mandy

      Wow – congratulations Soccer Mom on getting this to work. I love that you’ve kept them close to you and your children. I think that children do really well when as many aspects as possible of their lives stay the same and having extended family around without divorce-related conflict is such a rich experience.

      • http://scribblingsofasoccermom.com Soccer Mom

        I think kids benefit from grandparents and aunts & uncles in such an important way and I never want them to feel hostility for any reason if we’re all together. We really try hard to have 0 conflict around…especially w/kids around. We rarely fought as a couple, a few times during the divorce, but really we’ve remained as neutral as possible through it.

  • http://www.postdivorcechronicles.com Lee

    My 2nd husband had no parents and he wasn’t close to his brothers, but I am still very close to my first husbands mother and always will be. In fact, I have often told my daughter that she is her “almost” Grandmother and they both love that.

    • Mandy

      When I was a teenager, my grandparents lived just a ten minute walk away so I would go round there almost every weekend. Usually we’d have tea and play cards. I think those memories make me appreciate the role grandparents play. Unfortunately my children didn’t get to experience that – my ex’s mother suffered with depression and was never well enough to interact with the children on that level and my father lived in England. I would love for them to have an “almost” grandparent :)

  • http://www.penn-fam.blogspot.com Missy June

    My father-in-law won’t even look at me, though we’ve been in the same space several times while transfering children, etc. I was the one to initiate the divorce after a series of short terms affairs (by my then husband) over a three-year period. I worked very hard to keep the marriage intact, he chose not to.

    I don’t know if FIL is ashamed, angry, or what? But I’ve just let it go. I fully support my children and their relationship with him, we make cards for birthdays etc. But after a 13 year marriage, where he visited for 2-3 per year, I thought he would at least acknowledge me, but he won’t speak or look at me. Weird.

    • Mandy

      That’s too bad about your FIL, Missy June. Maybe he feels guilty about the way his son treated you but can’t bring himself to say it. Perhaps he doesn’t know about the affairs and only knows you initiated the divorce? Have you tried telling him that you’d like to be at least on speaking terms with him and that he’s an important part of your children’s lives?

  • http://formerlyaprildawn.blogspot.com April

    Especially if there are kids involved, it’s totally worth making the first move to keeping them close. It took a while, but I am very close with all of my ex-in-laws, and sometimes still refer to them as sis-in-law without the “ex.”

    • Mandy

      Yeah .. the whole “ex/former” is awkward and probably unnecessary – when I was writing this I was debating with myself whether I needed to use it for clarity???

  • http://thedivorceencouragist.wordpress.com thedivorceencouragist

    I love this topic. And I love the line “You might have divorced Judy but we didn’t.” It’s wonderful to see that Judy’s in-laws saw her as a person.

    At first, my ex lied to his family about the reason we were divorcing and so they shunned me. After they learned the truth, the tensions eased and we could chat and catch up whenever we saw each other. One time, I saw my ex’s grandparents and his grandpa gave me a hug and told me they missed me. It meant a lot.

  • http://www.bucksomeboomer.com Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer

    I was close to my ex-husband’s mother and visited her whenever in Florida until her death last year. She and his sister basically told him the same thing; we were family regardless of marital status.

  • Jane

    I think it was respectful and loving to go pay respects to a woman who you knew for so many years.In addition to showing support to your child who lost a Grand Mother was a wise idea if that was part of the motivation.

    I would do the same.However,I feel after a divorce there needs to be some boundaries.Especially if the ex has moved on and remarried.

    Being on friendly terms with former in laws is a good thing as long as you keep in mind they are your former in laws and not give the impression you are there to make a point to the ex and new spouse you were the first therefore you trump what comes after.I’m not saying that was the motivation but I’ve experienced this type of behavior as a newer spouse and I avoid it as an ex wife and Mother.

    Staying on good terms,occasional contact,expressing well wishes to the ex and new spouse at the same time is in my opinion the decent thing to do.Doing otherwise only prolongs or perpetuates the inability to let go of the past and embrace the here and now,causes the same with any children involved.It also harms the new spouses ability to form relationships with people who are now their in laws or their spouses children.Sometimes even be able to trust them if you get the impression the in laws report all to the ex spouse that is not child related.

    How are your relations with your in-laws? What did you do to reach out to them after your divorce?

    The question should be,”How are your relations with your former in laws?”

    Hopefully most would answer,good,friendly but respectful of my ex and his (or her)current spouse as I’ve moved on in my own life happily.Just something to think about.

    Although the ex sister in law invitation to staying at her home was nice of her(and perhaps a back slap to her new sister in law?) it was bad form to accept.Especially since the ex and current wife wasn’t reserved “room” to stay in her home.The truth is they probably didn’t want to stay there because of you.They are his family,you are a former member,mother of children or not.You haven’t remarried have you?

    I am an ex wife and I would have said thank you but I’ve made arrangements at local hotel.

    • Anonymous

      I think you make a good point Jane, that maintaining relationships with inlaws (or former inlaws) needs boundaries and honest intentions. If it’s based on genuine love, do it. If it’s based on hurting your ex, stay away.

      BTW, I probably worded the question that way because my ex’s brother told me I was family and would always be family – no ex in-laws for us. That’s really the extent of dealing with in laws. Sadly both mine and my ex’s parents have all passed; my sister and brother are both overseas.

  • Laaccounts

    Judy rather,as good intentioned as it may have been failed yo observe boundaries.Not the author(my apologies).Judy and all ex spouses should reach out in a way that is not offensive or hurtful to the ex and current spouse.Or participate in former in laws taking the change out on a current spouse especially if they had no part in the failure of the failed marriage.

    • Anonymous

      No problem with confusing me with Judy – it happens often but we can figure it out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ruth.tomlin Ruth Tomlin

    Thanks for this article. My son and his wife divorced after 11 years, and my son now has a new partner. I love both his ex-wife and his new partner. I am determined to continue a good relationship with both of them. I have access to my grandchildren (who live full time with their mum) and my son and his partner have access as well.I think it is very important for my grandchildren to know that I have enough love for both of these beautiful women. I love to arrange “get-togethers” so that all 6 of our grandchildren can have fun together. I believe that it is possible for my ex daughter in law, and my new daughter in law to be able to accept one another and attend celebrations together. This is all new territory for me, but I believe that divorce does not have to break a family apart. I will do all I can to spread the love around! This will be our first Christmas together, so will just wait and see how it all turns out!!!

  • Brit

    I don’t necessarily agree that “it is up to you to make the first move” as the former daughter or son-in-law.  I guess it depends on the circumstances of the divorce, whether it was amicable, whether it was the result of a betrayal by one of the parties etc or who was responsible.  I separated from my husband 12 months ago after 25 years of marriage due to his absolutely appalling behaviour involving my nextdoor neighbour and another woman.  I won’t go into the details here but you can imagine.  I was left devastated and totally blindsided.  I threw him out of the house immediately. I had a lovely relationship with his mother prior to this and a close relationship with all his other family.  Only one member of that family has actually reached out to me though.  The others, whilst not exactly banishing me from their lives, have basically said nothing about his actions including his mother.  They have said nothing or given me any indication that they appreciate how devastating this must be for me and our children.  I’m sorry, but in this instance I do not feel it is my job to make the first move.  Yes, it is awkward, yes it is hard for people to know what to say but seriously……I have held them all in my arms during the various tragedies in their lives, I have not sat there and thought “well if so and so needs my support I guess I’d better let them make the first move”.  What a cop out!  We were family, now I am just someone who once sat at their table.    

    Blood this thicker than morals I’m afraid.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      @Brit – I agree, it does depend on the circumstances. There are no hard and fast rules in divorce. If having a relationship with your former in-laws is important to you than there is no reason why you couldn’t reach out to them and I would urge not to wait for them to make the first move. If they respond positively, then it’s a win-win; if they respond negatively then you know where you stand and you may well have to grieve the loss of that relationship as well as your marriage. If they don’t respond, then all you know is that they haven’t responded – guessing at the reasons is generally wasted energy and as hard as it is, you may never know truly why.

    • emmae

       What a great tag line. Blood is thicker than morals. I have to remember that one. Some families never deal with uncomfortable situations in a healthy way. They often sweep everything, including immoral behavior under the rug and the X’s are usually shunned even if it wasn’t their fault. It’s a very sad situation for the kids involved. They want to keep in touch but at the same time the family is disrespecting their mother/father. And it’s hard for mom/dad to keep taking it on the chin for Jr. and let themselves open for more emotional abuse. I say, if they are embracing the cheater/abuser than that gives you a pretty good idea where morality and integrity ranks in the fam. (somewhere at the bottom of a barrel) and thank your lucky stars you don’ t have to associate with them unless absolutely necessary. There is a whole world of folks who don’t behave this way. Really! And they are so wonderful to know.

    • Marselle Bissot

      It’s done and over, absolutely move on away from his family as well. File divorce and start a new life. Rehashing stuff with your ex inlaws is not healthy at all, and will continually keep your ex in your life. Your main concern should be giving him minimal time with the children, because it sounds like he’s engaged in a poor environment for them to be around. In other words, the ex inlaws are the least worry.

  • PRIYA

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    ekakaspelltemple@yahoo.com

  • Emma

    I find the title of this article really hard (and bordering offensive). Divorce is the flip side of marriage; all rights and privileges that come with marriage, go with divorce. It is impossible to divorce a person, yet hold on to the life, the house, the families, the money, that went with that marriage. Divorce doesn’t just break a couple; it breaks families.

    I am a second wife. My husband’s ex was unfaithful and went on to marry the guy she was having an affair with. My in-laws (technically her ex-in laws) treat her like the prodigal daughter; inviting her to all the family events despite our requests not to. They ignore my husband’s pain and disregard my feelings entirely. She has a manipulative controlling hold over all of them and won’t go away. They love her and won’t let her go and would be happy if I just disappeared. She uses the title of this article “I divorced him, not his family” to justify her treatment of us and the in-laws parrot it back to us. I disagree entirely; when you divorce a person you don’t get a choice. The in-laws are not your family anymore and you need to move on and get a life of your own.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Hi Emma – I can appreciate how difficult it is for both you and your husband to have his ex so involved with his family but I respectfully disagree with you about her having to sever the ties. The choice to maintain the relationship is between her and the in-laws and clearly they’ve made the choice to keep it going.

      Does her presence threaten you? What would it take for you accept her? You don’t have to be friends but why do you let her upset you?

      • Alicia

        It’s rude and inconsiderate, small, and selfish. Be the big enough person to move on despite all of that. There are only a few real friends anyone will ever have in life. Everybody always implies that the second wife feels threatened. No, it’s not that, it called feeling annoyed, and disrespected, and the family isn’t giving her a fair shot!!

        • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

          Hi Alicia – I can’t agree that it’s rude and inconsiderate – it depends on the individual situation. I’ve talked to people who have divorced after long-term marriages who have maintain contact with their inlaws -they’ve been celebrating holidays and family occasions together for years and years. There is no reason to suddenly drop the friendship.

    • Mathilde

      I agree with Emma, we are talking here about EX-in laws (not in laws). If Mandy’s ex-husband is remarried, Mandy is showing her own disrespect and poor boundaries related to her ex-husband and his new wife by accepting a room in her ex-sister in law’s home (whereby forcing the ex and his new wife with no option but to stay in a hotel). It is very unfortunate that Mandy’s ex-in laws do not prioritize and support wholeheartedly her ex and his new marriage. All marriages are better off when the couple experiences acceptance and support from in-laws; Mandy’s EX-in laws should be prioritizing and supporting her ex and his current marriage. They should be modeling this behavior and Mandy should follow suit and find new in laws (i.e., move on a get a life)

      • Mathilde

        Correction: My apologies Mandy, I am referring to Judy (not Mandy) in my reply above. Also would like to add though, that I do not get a sense of appropriate boundaries from the narrative of this article.

        • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

          Hi Mathilde – I can appreciate and understand your perspective. I think the value in this segment of Judy’s story is recognizing that relationships with in-laws don’t automatically end with divorce. This is especially so in long term marriages. Relationships that are based on empathy rather than blood are often more sustainable. I see it less as choosing sides and more of choosing your friends.

          It is extremely difficult when in-laws support the in-law spouse and not their own family member – there are many reasons this might be the case and I do recognize we don’t have Judy’s ex’s perspective or that of her family members. The transition through divorce is a difficult time for everyone and sometimes it does take time for relationships to be renegotiated and rearranged.

  • Allyes

    NO…. DIVORCE, move on and let you ex and his wife and family live the way they have picked. Without you.

  • Dawna

    Hi Mandy, I’m not divorced but my boyfriend/common law partner is. He’s been divorced for about 4 years and there are no kids involved. They still talk occasionally on email and it seems amicable enough. I don’t mind that communication as I respect the 25 yrs they spent together. That said his ex keeps in touch with his parents and is planning on visiting them for a few days this summer after not seeing them for a couple of years. My ex isn’t sure how he feels about it yet but I would be okay with it if he wanted to see her when she is in town. I think he feels awkward and doesn’t want me to be upset. My issue is I’m not sure how I feel or should be feeling about it. I don’t think I want to meet her. Any advice or insight would be appreciated.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Hi Dawna, First, there isn’t a “how you should feel” about this only how you do and it sounds like you’re not sure about that. So I would ask yourself why you don’t want to meet her? Is there something you’re afraid of? There’s nothing to say that you have to meet her but if you did you could structure it so it would be non-threatening. You could for example agree to go to coffee – that way it’s easy for you to leave when your coffee is over and you’re not stuck like you would be if you went for dinner. Make sure you have your own transportation too. That way if for some reason it doesn’t go very well you can easily leave.

      Hope this helps.

      • Marselle Bissot

        No a ex that shows up at family events, is just plain rude, and borders on stalking imo. If family members ignore requests to stop inviting the intrusive ex, then you don’t attend those gatherings., and possibly if it’s a really bad situation stop the relationship with that family member. We had a ex that tried to start trouble, and we told her in no uncertain terms, if she showed up at my mil’s funeral..she would be asked to leave. The ex is never a part of the family, and often their main goal is to start trouble. That is usually the underlying motivation.

        • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

          Hi Marselle,
          I agree that it is important to draw the appropriate boundaries and that family members should not be drawn into taking sides as it sounds like the ex in your situation was attempting.

          I still maintain that it isn’t a black and white situation – in long term relationships especially, an ex may have established and meaningful friendships with in-law family members and divorce doesn’t automatically mean that those relationships should end.

          • Mary

            I am divorcing my husband of 18 years. I have had a long relationship with my in-laws. Now, seemingly overnight, they refuse to speak with me or answer emails, basically no more communication at all – apparently forever. I think this is crazy, but I cannot make them communicate with me.

          • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

            Hi Mary – I’m sorry to hear your in-laws are reacting this way. I know this can feel very hurtful. You’re right, you cannot make them communicate with them. My advice would be to take the high road, keep reaching out to them – birthday cards, Christmas/Holiday cards, invitations to family events – may be at some point they will reconsider.

            Wishing you strength and courage,

            Mandy

  • Mike

    I found your post while searching for answers to similar question. I am recently separated but the divorce is pending– I am just waiting for my spouse to file the “Simple Dissolution of Marriage” paperwork (in Florida) and for us to get a court date, since she is the one wanting the divorce. We have been married for 6 years but have been together for about 13 years now, and I have gotten to know her family quite well over the years. I loved them very much and have hoped that I can still somehow be a part of their lives, but it seems as if they don’t want to have anything to do with me right now, even though we were always on great terms in the past. My wife is essentially leaving me for a co-worker, who her family is bound to meet at some point. Yet I feel like they are angry with me for some reason, since I haven’t heard anything from them for several weeks. I did, however, get a brief note from her brother, and in turn, I thanked him for reaching out. But other that that, there’s been no contact.

    Should I wait for the divorce to be finalized before I make an attempt to contact my in-laws? Or should I try to reach out now? I have to admit that my wife’s delay in filing the paperwork is beginning to worry me, so maybe I should wait to attempt to contact the in-laws until after the legalities are over. I get the feeling they may be attempting to influence some of her decisions on how “simple” she wants to make the divorce, and instead possibly make it more difficult for me. If this turns out to be the case, I think I would possibly have second thoughts about whether I would want our relationship to continue.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Hi Mike,
      Lots of people struggle with this issue. If you want to maintain your relationship, then I would recommend that you contact your in-laws, state that even though the marriage has ended, you value their friendship, that you’re not asking them to take sides and you hope the friendship can continue. Then continue to contact them as you would have previously.

      Understand that they may not respond because they feel uncomfortable for whatever reason about continuing their relationship. They may simply not know how to approach you and that’s why you should initiate the contact. Quite possibly their daughter has asked them not to continue being friends with you.

      Re: your comment about the delay in filing for divorce – there could be many reasons for this so I wouldn’t agonizing guessing what may be happening. Best thing to do is to ask your STBX. If there’s some urgency on your part then you could also take the lead. Have you consulted with an attorney?

  • Bob

    Staying close to ex-inlaws is just stupid and living in the past. When you divorce that means you are no longer family. You should let your ex move on with their life, and you should move on too. Too bad, so you care about people, that’s the bad side of divorce. That is having no consideration at all for the new spouse who is trying to fit in to a family that is hanging on to the relationship with the ex. It makes if very difficult for the current spouse when the ex spouse remains close with the family.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Hi Bob – yes, it can be difficult and it’s not easy but I see no reason to expect someone who has established close friendships with their in-laws to automatically drop the relationship because of the divorce. It’s not about taking sides and judging, it’s simply about friendship and yes, time can be a great help. Are you dealing with this issue now?

  • Bobbi K

    I find myself struggling with having no contact with my ex in-laws. I have been divorced for about 3 years now, and am happily remarried for almost a year (to my best friend who I should have married to begin with). I spent over 15 years combined with my in-laws, celebrating holidays and family get togethers, but once I left I lost all contact. Since I left, I tried to make things “easier” for my ex since I knew he was a creature of habit by steering clear of anything or anyone that has a common bond with us both. Now I regret my decision to cut all ties, but think I have passed the time allowable to have an on-going relationship with his family. Just because you divorce the person, that does NOT mean that all mutual relationships must suffer. I miss them, but am pretty sure that this is just the way it will be from now on. My advice? Have the conversation with those that you wish to still aqaint yourself with, and try not to hold it against them if they choose blood over you.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Thank you for sharing this Bobbi. I wholeheartedly agree with your advice. Have you tried contacting your in-laws? It would be worth at least trying to see if they were interested in reconnecting.

      • Bobbi K

        I have thought about it but I am not sure (even though I am a much stronger individual now than they remember) that I could endure the second dismissal from them. I have considered a social media message, but worry that it is a bit too impersonal for folks that I considered my family. I may do just that though :) We never realize how strong we truly are until we pick ourselves back up from all the pain and hurt resulting from divorce. Thank you for bringing to light the “real issues” that come from divorce, this blog has helped me considerably. Keep up the good work!

        • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

          If they reject your message of friendship please don’t read much into that … it really is more about them and their issues.

          Thank you for your kind words – may I use them as a testimonial?

          • Bobbi K

            Certainly :) Anything to help others through their divorce journey….

        • Marselle Bissot

          Bobbi, it sounds like your ex didn’t want you contacting his family going by your post. That’s his family, you did the right thing; and now have new inlaws. Everyone needs to respect other’s boundaries.

  • Mike

    I agree with you Mandy. When my wife of 9 years ended our marriage I was devastated equally when her entire family shut me out of their lives completely. All during the marriage, I actually had a better relationship with my in laws than I did with my family, and I had a real difficult time accepting how I suddenly did not seem that important to them any longer. Because of our children, we have had a few opportunities to interact but they chose to ignore me. Perhaps there is awkwardness, and maybe they are worried they will hurt their daughter by interacting with me.

    It has been two years since we separated and I am starting to finally accept the loss. I hope others read your article and realize that close relationships developed with a former partners family don’t necessarily need to end as well.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      That must have been very painful and hurtful for you. Maybe you’ll have the chance to reconnect in the future. I wonder if you could reach out to one of them and just say that you’d like your relationship to continue?

  • Bob

    Hi Mandy:
    I echo Emma’s response that this article. You should not make a statement like “You divorce your spouse not your inlaws.” when there many be cases where it should apply. What about an ex that cheated on you, shouted for you to die in front of your children, insulted your relatives, tried to give you almost no visitation in the divorce. Did everything for financial gain, lied constantly about you, had witnesses lie about, forged documents, shoplifted. I could go on and on. The ex wanted to destroy me and keep me away from my children but wanted to keep my family. Mandy, how would you feel if a ex spouse did this to you and wanted to remain friends with your family? I am sure you would embrace it. You seem so forgiving.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Hi Bob – I completely understand how hurtful your ex’s actions have been to you.

      There are few definitive rules in divorce – every divorce is different and what happens is very dependent on the individual circumstances.

      I still say that when you get divorced you are divorcing your spouse not your extended family. How those relationships play out should depend on the depth of the relationships before the divorce and it’s really best if you don’t ask these people to take sides. There is no hard and fast rule that says you can no longer be friends with your in-laws or that your ex can’t be friends with your family.

      It may be time for you to be open and honest about what’s been going on, not in a libelous way but factual. I would guess that your family already has a pretty good handle on your ex’s character.

      You can no more control how your family members react than you can control your ex. They will choose which friendships they want to maintain and based on their choices, you’ll need to draw your boundaries to protect yourself.

      I don’t think I’m being forgiving but rather making conscious, intentional decisions.

      Wishing you strength and courage,