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odd apology/in-laws question
January 11, 2007
6:28 pm
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bonni
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Dear friends,
my family and I received a letter from my dh's brother's ex.

background:
They split a few years ago. They have four young children. They split for multiple reasons, all valid and in my opinion both of their faults, based on what I know. They have been fairly amicable and share parenting duties.

current situation:
my husband's brother is now remarrying. the wedding is this weekend. she wrote us a letter apologizing to us for her part in the divorce and for hurting her now-ex. she asked us to still consider her part of the family and wanted to see us while we are in town for the wedding.

dilemna:
i never really thought it was her fault. i like her. i don't really see what she would have to apologize to us for. i never thought she wasn't part of the family. We aren't going to the wedding.

more dilemna:
i don't want to go to the wedding. dh does, but chose not to because he had a military conflict. The military conflict fell through at the last minute. Even though we could afford it, I don't want to spend the money to get him a last minute plane ticket - would cost nearly $1000. I feel bad about not supporting his going. If he really wanted to go, i wouldn't stop him, but no, I'm not pushing him to spend our money on this.

I also can't support this marriage in my heart. I guess that's the real dilemna for me. We went to the first wedding. They have four young children. I dont think its right to just dump them with a new mom when they already have a mom. Part of this goes back to my grandmother who was horribly mistreated by her stepmother. So, the thought of discarding the mother of my nephews and letting this strange woman come live with them seems really wrong. I would never consider bringing another adult into my childrens' lives without their father's intimate involvement. Then again, I doubt we'd split up while our children are young. Plus, I don't know that BIL hasn't consulted the ex in this decision. Its entirely possible that this new woman is a totally acceptable stepmother.

Its not really my business, except they had this expectation that we would take our kids out of school for a week and travel almost two thousand miles to this wedding. They gave us like two months' notice. They planned it at a time that most children are in school. Where I live, you can't just miss a week of school like this. Also, I have a job. Now, no one else in dh's family works, I mean all the women are SAHMs, which is fine, but I'm not and I have a very responsible position and the wedding is at a time that I can't just leave. Especially not with short notice.

anyway, I guess I'm trying to work this out in my head and probably the bottom line is that i'm a really crappy selfish wife who ought to do whatever my husband's family wants and stop having an opinion or responsibilities outside of supporting my man, but well, that's not going to happen. Also, my children are girls and I realize that the inlaws highest expectation of them is that they be able to cook and clean and take care of her man, but I don't know I was hoping for an engineer and a lawyer.

i think i'm ranting now. do you think i should just call BIL's ex and tell her I don't think its her fault and we do consider her still an aunt to our daughters? I did promise dh that we would plan a trip out at our convenience so we could have a proper visit. I argued that during the wedding, we'd be competing to see his brother and family anyway and a later visit would be higher quality. So I could commit to visiting her when we do that.

thoughts?
bonni

January 11, 2007
6:45 pm
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sleepless in uk
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It's hard this. I can understand your dilemna and fully understand your problem with what it would cost, both in financial terms and those of taking leave at short notice and hauling the kids out of school.

I also think you are right not to take sides and to continue having a relationship with your ex sister in law if you want to.

But I do wonder if a compromise might be for your husband to attend on his own? You could reasonably send apologies and explain about not being able to take the girls out of school but your brother in law would see that you are prepared to make the effort.

Im just thinking that if it was my brother, unless I believed he had behaved really badly towards either his wife or kids, I would really want to attend if he had invited me. I wouldnt want to hurt his first wife, or his children, but neither would I want to hurt him.

I dont know how much your husband wants to go but if he does perhaps that would be a satisfactory compromise????

January 11, 2007
7:02 pm
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bonni
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Thanks Sleepless,
It would be near $1000 to send just my husband at this point. He'd have to leave tomorrow. I do agree that I should stay out of it. I just don't want to spend the money. If he decides to go, I can't really stop him, but I won't be willing to make the trip later as a family to recoup the cost.

bonni

January 11, 2007
7:22 pm
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🙁

I feel sick that the ex SIL is this solicitous. I guess I don't understand why ..... if the father divorced his children's mother and is now "moving on"..... he still is needing everyone to appear and validate him at his second wedding. My feeling is that it would be more gracious to just re-marry and not expect so many kudos this time.

I think the huge trip we had to finance time and time again to join family to foster good relationships was often not recognized or appreciated. We were always strapped. We never could afford any other vacations.

Maybe after you explain the reality of it to her, you could just invite her to come visit you in your locale some time and then she'd have the opportunity to bond with your children outside of this wedding???

Sometimes it feels better in the long run to take that extra step backwards, politely.

January 11, 2007
7:38 pm
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bonni
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Hi Brynnie,
I don't understand the reaching out and the timing. I guess I think she should have done that years ago, not now that her ex is remarrying.

I guess it feels to me like BIL discarded his wife because she wasn't good enough for him anymore and he's found a replacement. And that if my dh gets tired of me, he could/would just do the same. I am violently opposed to some other woman raising my children. They are pains in the butt, but they are my pains. It riles me that dh could just discard me the way his brother did. Of course, if he did, I could care less about ever seeing anyone in his family again except his stepmother, and frankly the ex SIL. They are the only two out of the bunch whose company I enjoy. I used to like the other SIL, but she's gotten really "holier than thou" and "I must serve my man" in attitude and I just don't buy into the woman in servitude concept.

You are WAY right about the step back. Its in order. We aren't going to the wedding. I do think I should call her. I wrote a letter, but I'm not comfortable sending it because it feels like taking sides. I do get along with the BIL. He was really nice to my while my husband was in Iraq. He called several times and just chatted with me - good conversations as both of us were feeling abandoned. I know the whole divorce was painful for him. I really liked his ex too. You are right, I'm allowed to have a relationship with her, casual anyway. I think I can consider her my daughters' aunt, even if she isn't technically part of the family any more. I guess i'm technically not either, since I refused to change my name (big big source of conflict with MIL).

Thanks for the feedback. This is really helping me sort through this. I mean, really its not my business, but that its bugging means I have something to work out.

bonni

January 11, 2007
8:24 pm
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Still here. Sounds like the BIL is a pretty good guy, or feels his family responsibilities very strongly (serious stuff Iraq) and dearly loves his brother and must think pretty highly of you as well.

Who knows what he thinks? Honestly, maybe he likes your independence but would not really like being married to someone he could not control?

I feel sorry for this woman. She sounds very sweet. She sounds like she wanted to be part of his family alot. It would hurt so very much to be tossed aside while your children were still "accepted".

But, thank God, this is an easy one -- all you have to do is be cordial to her. And you have the geographical distance 🙂

I think one should always remember that the "love" your in-laws have for you can be easily snatched back when you least expect it. It just takes years and years of really kind and loving stuff to realize you love and are loved by them.

My h's father died and his step-mother re-married. AT THAT POINT, she moved on with her life and we felt like we had been "dumped". I mean, I joked about it, but it did hurt. We were sooooo loving with her throughout the grieving time. It's been several years now, and she has recently been sort of apologetic and has tried to make amends, but....I'm just sharing a lesson with you.

I would have gone nuts being divorced and knowing another woman was co-parenting my children. Who knows how many ingratiating things I might have forced myself to do to remain within the network of my children's father's family. As my sons dated and grew into and out of some serious relationships, it got very hard to not LOVE those young women and I still do, but not so's anybody else knows.....

I think the biggest thing, when you are trying very hard not to take sides in a divorce, is to never say anything negative about anybody that might might fuel more "feelings".

Even if she is trying to "go there" about some issue she has, you can say something truthful like "I don't know what to say" "everyone's relationship is different" stuff like that, and it saves you from having to express WHOSE SIDE you lean towards.

OUch! This fence is hurting.

January 11, 2007
9:13 pm
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bonni
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hey, maybe that's it. its sitting on the fence. it does hurt. good insight. i'll just try to support dh best i can. i am going to reach out to exsil and keep good boundaries, like you suggest.

bonni

January 12, 2007
1:17 pm
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This is sort of curious, but in the couple of years I've been coming to this site, something has changed for me. I mean, I've SAID things here that I would never say to ANYONE.....sometimes really unattractive petty little opinionated judgemental whiney things.....and it felt good to release some of those feelings. I doubt I was always being fair.

However, I found myself allowing myself to say some of these things outloud to my husband, and maybe here and there to others.....and, while it hasn't actually caused any harm that I know of, I realize I have the urge to just "clear the air" once in a while regardless of the consequences.

I know my husband doesn't want to hear any more unkind remarks from me about others. I see how it looks "on me".

Just an interesting side-effect from the site. While it "enabled" me to get stuff off my chest here in a safe place, I seemed to lose some of that safety valve I need in place in my real world in order not to offend everyone around me. Yikes. Good Boundaries are difficult to maintain.

January 12, 2007
1:17 pm
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lovetocrochet
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As someone who's remarried with kids, I want to point out that a stepparent technically is NOT a parent on the same level as the original Mom and Dad. My husband is NOT a replacement for my daughter's father, he never was and never will be.

I wouldn't dare do that to her, I wouldn't dare expect her to accept and act as if that were the case. She's always been Daddy's girl and the only circumstances under which I'd intervene in their relationship is if he was committing something unacceptable against her.

My husband does not discipline my daughter, my ex and I do. He does not set the rules, my ex and I do. This was something we established before I remarried with the help of a conjoint counselor.

Blended families are difficult to maintain but if ALL parties are committed to keeping things loving and sane, it can be done. Again we had a conjoint counselor help set up some good boundaries, and the fact that my ex and I have kept our daughter the priority in the whole situation has been key. IF my ex were to remarry (titanium apron strings notwithstanding, ahem), I would expect him and his new spouse to hold to the same.

Yes, I would be concerned she'd try to take over as the "new Mommy" but then again my daughter is pretty darn strong-willed and would probably give her stepmother just as much hell as she's given my husband, who hasn't even TRIED to assume such a role. As it is you have to give kids credit, many times they will hold their own against a stepparent who is arrogant enough to think they can fill someone else's shoes.

It's obvious not all stepfamilies work out that well. Okay, maybe most stepfamilies turn out crappy... I'm sorry this has caused so much hurt with so many.

But I'm also wondering if it might not be worth it to talk to this brother in law and see just what's going on? You also can't project your fears about your husband "replacing" you onto this. It has nothing to do with his brother's life or his family.

So I guess to sum it up, I'd be really careful about judging his new wife or assuming exactly what your bil, his ex and his new wife are going to do or not do. If the marriage really did fall apart for valid reasons, and the sil really did have a part in that, then she is doing the right thing by apologizing. Also if they have been apart for some years, then it's hard to see how a new wife can be a "replacement" here... unless she was one of the reasons the marriage broke up.

Anyway that's just my opinion, take it or leave it. It just seemed like stepfamilies were being knocked a bit here and I wanted to offer my perspective as someone on the other side of the fence.

January 12, 2007
5:55 pm
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bonni
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Love to Crochet,
Thank you for bringing your perspective. I do know logically that blended families can work. Its very possible that this will work out for them. You're right, I really don't know anything in detail about the situation. I still don't think the exSIL owes US an apology. It really doesn't have much to do with us. To be honest, I think I really just don't want anything to do with any of them (the whole inlaw crew). Yet, the children are my daughters' cousins. Do I have some responsibility to spend time with any of them? Especially when I have so little time to spend with my own friends and family. Its HIS family. If he wants to spend time with them, then isn't it his responsiblity to arrange it, to do the calling, to maintain the relationships?

I guess I just can't get past the concept of my own husband bringing another woman into our family. I am very careful about the people I allow around my children. I guess that my only recourse for my own situation is to fight any attempt at divorce, no matter what. My marriage is not solid. We are good friends, and we get along well. We enjoy our life together, but since his year overseas, its just not the same. I can't get past the military's intrusion into our lives. At some point, I think he's going to get tired of the lack of real intimacy. We have sex and spend time together, but to be honest, I'm not really here. My real self, my heart is bound up in a little chest and locked carefully away. I am going through the motions as hard as I can, but I can't or won't trust him again. Is that grounds for divorce? I guess I'd just have to get a lawyer and fight it. but i guess i'm being selfish, since being bound to me eliminates his opportunity for happiness with someone else. Of course if he hadn't abandoned me, I wouldn't be broken.

bonni

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