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Ex-MIL Thinks I Should Get Along with OW for My Son’s Sake

Dear Chump Lady,

I have unresolved in-law issues it seems, and can’t make sense of how I react to them more than my ex-husband and OWife.

So I took my son to meet ex-inlaws. I was visiting their city so I thought why not take the kid to meet them. I dropped him informally at the paternal grandparents’ home twice the past year and do want them involved, so I thought it’ll be a nice gesture to let him have fun at their place this time around. I kept things very, very civil for the 2.5 years I had known about the OW (now wife). Our marriage ended abruptly due to his EA and my ex-in laws knew that I knew.

So stupid me, I drove five hours’ to drop my toddler off at their place. I walk in, and the family greets me super nicely and when I say I am about to leave they have me stay for tea and snacks. (I am South Asian so this shit is crucial in social meetings). I reluctantly sat down. My ex-husband walked in and within a few minutes took my toddler out to this other living room in the house. I noticed he left his water bottle so I got up to drop it at the other room when I accidentally (not intentional, trust me) caught sight of the OW reading to my son with a book in her lap while the ex looked lovingly at her.

And the whole hypocrisy of the scene came crashing down on me. I had a split second of an image of pulling her hair out. But then I just felt such disgust. I turned to my ex brother-in-law who was probably there to stop me from going in, and whispered “For fuck’s sake”. Then I composed myself and went back to my tea and snacks. And then left. And then I cried (howled) in the car.

I tried spitting out the shit sandwich and refused to take him back the next day. They kept calling to see if I will drop him. What followed after was a from formerly sweet ex-mil telling me I should sit with OWife and talk about our son and his father. I couldn’t stomach it and sweetly reminded her of how our marriage ended and that OW has no relevance to my child. Ex-mil then kept repeating I will make my son suffer, I did wrong by him. I couldn’t eat for two weeks after this, thinking that maybe I should’ve just sucked it up again.

The hypocrisy of my life HAUNTS me. I created no scenes, nothing after I found out. I wished my ex the best when he remarried and rubbed it in my face. I share photos, videos, updates with exes family. Encourage visitation. But I feel so hypocritical doing this nice-for-the-sake-of-the-kid thing. I am not within my rights to demand OW be kept away, but I can’t tolerate this hypocrisy anymore. What would you have done? What should I do when this shit happens again? I feel like they won.


Dear Mashal,

What should you do when this shit happens again? Ensure it doesn’t happen again! This is why we have custody schedules. Your ex can share your son with his parents on HIS time. Or, your ex in-laws can travel to YOUR city and visit their grandchild on your time, by scheduling this in advance with you.

You’re under zero obligation to visit your ex in-laws with your son on your time. Even if you happen to be on their block, in their town.

Not visiting doesn’t make you churlish, or unkind, or not moved on — it makes you divorced. You have a NEW life. Yes, even if that life is unformed right now. Even if that life is Netflix on the sofa with your imaginary friend Bob and a bag of Doritos. YOUR LIFE MATTERS. The time you’re spending right now reacting to these people, sobbing in the car, is time you could better spend with Bob discussing The Irishman. (I love you Al Pacino, but your Jimmy Hoffa is the worst Detroit accent I’ve ever heard. Bob nods in agreement.)

They’re under no obligation to hide the OW/new wife from you, it’s their home. And if you were just dropping by, without warning, she might’ve been there just as a matter of course. If they invited her over, knowing you’d be there with your son, well, that’s shitty. Shame on them. Nobody wants to be ambushed and threatened with conscious uncoupling.

But again, this is why we AVOID these situations. Your decency (“more time with your grandson!”) will not be rewarded.

If I’m doing the math correctly, your ex-husband cheated on you while you were pregnant? A toddler? 2.5 years of the OW? EA? I sincerely doubt your ex had a chaste, unconsummated 2.5 year affair. Your ex-in-laws were apparently in the know?

Why do you want these people in your life? Really think about that. It’s okay to respect them as your son’s paternal grandparents and encourage that relationship, it doesn’t mean you have to have a relationship.

This reads like a weird pick me dance for their approval as Moved On. You don’t need their validation. Nor do you need your ex’s validation that you’re fine and friendly! with his parents. It feels hypocritical because it is inauthentic. Don’t do this to yourself!

You made a nice gesture, and your reward was tea, snacks and impression management. The new Happy Family minus you.

They are not your friends. They do probably enjoy their grandson, but you have an auxiliary role in their life — a former birthing vessel who gave them a grandchild. OW is vessel #2. She could be anyone. If Vessel #15 waltzed in and read The Three Bears, they’d probably make her a snack too. What matters is that no one disturbs their well-ordered life or their image of their son as a Good Person.

You’re not helping them with either narrative if you insist being authentic about your grief and anger at being chumped. Right now, you’re sending them mixed messages. That you’re okay coming into their world, and that you’re not okay with it.

It’s okay to NOT be okay with it. It’s okay to stay home. The measure of Moving On is not being meh with your in-laws or the OW (maybe that will come some day, maybe it won’t. Take it off the table.) What matters is honoring yourself, and we do that with boundaries.

Expect them to hold their position. I’m sure they’ve perfected their denial about their son’s fuckwittedness for decades. Your humiliating dance of “Watch Me Be the Bigger Person!” isn’t going to win the judges over. In fact, it just keeps casting you as the Poor Chump who can’t get over their fabulousness.

(Imaginary Bob fluffs the sofa cushions next to him and beckons you to sit down.)

What followed after was a from formerly sweet ex-mil telling me I should sit with OWife and talk about our son and his father. I couldn’t stomach it and sweetly reminded her of how our marriage ended and that OW has no relevance to my child. Ex-mil then kept repeating I will make my son suffer, I did wrong by him.

Maybe Ex-MIL should sit with her son and talk about keeping his dick in his pants. And sweetly remind him that not keeping his dick in his pants will make his wife suffer. That he did wrong cheating on his pregnant wife.

Yeah, those fire-side chats don’t seem to be working.

Mashal, why would you think about taking parenting advice from a woman who produced a fuckwit?

Okay, it’s not totally her fault that her son is a fuckwit, (we don’t control other people, even our offspring) but she knows absolutely NOTHING about divorce and co-parenting with fuckwits. I don’t take fashion tips from hobos, don’t you take life advice from her.

Bob would just like to interject that he’s free this Friday. And he has tissues. And better snacks.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Embrace the miracle of divorce. Legally, they are no longer your family. You may want their approval/support for some reason but you aren’t going to get it.

    Make them come to you if they want additional time with your son. Or leave it up to Fuckwit and the OWife.

    I recommend absurd comedies for moments like these. “Ruthless People” and “Earth Girls are Easy” make me laugh. YMMV.

    • No, cut them off for good. They aren’t related to you, you don’t need any communication with them at all. Block them on everything. Your son will be better off without these people in his life.

      If they want to see their grandson, they’ll have to see him only on their son’s time.

      Make no mistake, they did this to hurt you.

      • Agreed that’s exactly what I did, my former in-laws were shocked by his filthy behaviour, first divorce in the family!

        • I learned the hard way that entering the world of ex and OW never ends well. Just dont go there. Be the “bigger person” from a distance. If you have to meet then remain polite, civil and detached. Skip the snacks with his folks as you are sure to choke on them. NC as far as possible is the way to go and it can be done without drama – its self protection.

  • I understand completely: you tried to do the Bigger Person thing, and it blew up in your face.

    It generally does. It’s the universe’s way of saying, ‘Please stop wife-ing.’

    • This. You aren’t the wife, they aren’t your in-laws, and you don’t have to bother with them any more. You shouldn’t take a dump on their porch, but you’re not obligated to listen to their opinions or go out of your way for them either.

  • She’s his mother, and culturally men, I know, its wrong, are treated better then women.
    Ow and your ex can pretend to be all loved up, its acting.
    I wouldn’t have turned up uninvited.
    Its normal to still be upset years later, what are the custody agreements pick up and drop offs.

  • Wow. I feel like I need to shower after reading this. Time to get some strong women to help you see the truth and have some balls. I say this loving to you as well….”time to get a therapist”. Your past has screwed with your mind and the fact that you didn’t revolt and were so nice about him fucking someone else, “dropping by”, and not reacting to the shit show tells me you probably have some deep seated stuff to work through. In order to protect yourself, take some advice from those who have been there and done it well. I mean really well. The day I found out, I kicked him out. The day I got the 3 years of bank and credit card statement, I filed. I listened to those who’d gone before me because I was a hot mess. I trusted these other people came in my life to hold me up and carry me until I could walk on my own. I went NO CONTACT the day I read about it. I read this post, other books, get help on being co-dependent (which it seems you may be as well), and decided to look my feelings in the face. I grieved and cried and when I ranted and yelled (to him because damn girl, they need to hear some of that shit) I gave myself grace. I now know the ranting and yelling to him goes no where and he doesn’t deserve to know my feelings or the details of my life or even why I’m smiling today. I am smiling today because of the work I did, the boundaries I set and the tears I’ve cried. Playing nice gets you no where. No where. Stop patting yourself on the back and kick yourself in the ass. PM for help or support. You are not alone.

    • Word!

      I am civil to the ex and his family on the occasions we have to share the same space – for the kids – but never, ever would I associate with him, nor his family (aka The Cult).

      Do you notice these sort seem spawn from cult-like families? Blood is always thicker than any crime for these sorts.

  • My ex mil lied to her son about his dads affairs and how he left the family and then came back. She would tell him things like “your dad is providing for us”

    I made sure to answer my sons questions with age appropriate answers. “ What your dad did is wrong. People should only leave their husband/wife for certain reasons and never leave kids Your father loves you but has problems” (dads a high functioning addict) or “sorry. Mommy doesn’t do things with your daddy or share your birthday party with daddy because daddy did bad things to mommy and she won’t be around him. You can have a separate celebration with daddy though. He does love you”

    I was criticized a lot for this. But went with it

    • Isn’t it amazing how we get critisised for boundaries but no one seems to worry about their cheating, lying crap? I think its because most people seem to be uncomfortable with genuine emotion, and making choices, everyone wants this wishy washy world where everyone is nice to everyone else. Its inauthentic.

      • What is it with that? I call my soon to be ex’s family a cult too! My mom coined the term. I would love to discuss this more. Extremely insular, way too close, but gossipy and critical behind each others back? Competitive and materialistic and parents sweep everything under the rug and that rug is now about 3 feet in the air there is so much crap under there. Let’s just pretend everything is ok and move on! And when help is requested or needed or shit is going down turn your head and don’t look because then you’d have to be invested besides just a party and fun.

    • I don’t criticize you taking a stand against joint parties etc… If I may make one recommendation though. Some of the language you use is editorializing. It’s enough to say “mom and dad are no longer married and that means we don’t share your birthday celebration. We celebrate separately with you.” Don’t hide the cheating, but use language that asserts your boundaries and expectations. “Mom didn’t want a husband that thought it was okay to have a girlfriend.” Please please please, stop telling your son his father loves him. It does more harm than good, because you don’t control your Ex or his behavior, and you should not be speaking for him. Focus on your love for your son, and model what love should look like. You are setting the standard, not your Ex.

      • My Ex did this early on in a card he sent our 18 year old son. He wrote “Your mom & I are both so proud of you”. At first I was upset that he used my name but then I realized he needed me to prop him up. From then on, I knew I had no control over what my Ex told my children & I would focus solely on my relationship with my children. They know I love them & am proud of them. Whatever their father tells them, has to come from him.

    • I would just add, stop adding ‘your dad loves you’. This is you managing his image. Let DAD tell your child he loves him, let DAD show your child his love. That way the kids live in reality. Let the kids reach their OWN conclusions about whether their parents/grandparents etc love them, AND about the quality of that love.

      Otherwise kids are not only confused about their current relationships with these people who SHOULD love them (but might actually not, or in a very limited and selfish way), they also grow up to be confused about how to deal with the other people who say they love them, but don’t act like it.

      And if the kid asks the magic question; ‘Dear Chump Parent, does Cheater Parent love me?’, then that is the time for some serious queries about how the KID feels, about what looks and feels like love to them, what makes them doubt they are receiving love and what makes them feel loved, etc.

      Lets not create another generation of Chumps, if we can avoid it, eh?

  • Wow, this was well timed for me. I think we(me) assume that the ex-in-laws will want to be on the right side of the moral aspect of the “split”. I had a good friend tell me over the weekend “if they actually take your side that’s them having to admit being partially responsible for raising a narc capable of what she’s done….” It’s not going to happen, they aren’t on my team. It was a needed slap in the face.

    • BBM, this is so true. They truly aren’t at your team, and never will be.

      Well after the divorce I tried to sit down and give my side of the story to my exFIL (of 25+ years). I thought we had a good, respectful relationship, and that he would hear me out. Nope, he did not want to listen. Better to stay in ignorance and think your daughter is without any wrong-doing.

      • My FiL had passed by the time his daughter’s infidelity became known. I am glad he did not see that behavior from her. But I missed him through the process and I think his influence would have been helpful. She told me she wanted a divorce one year to the day after he died.

        • I think that there is something that happens when a cheater’s parent dies. It’s as if they no longer have to be good or do the right thing or live by the parent’s moral standards. My XH began cheating soon after his mother died & his dad developed dementia. But once he didn’t have to live up to their expectations, all hell broke loose. As a chump, he treated me like the mother he had always wanted to rebel against.

      • In the early stages after Dday I had my STXFIL come to our house for an “intervention”. His son is f***ing a barely legal teenager, burning through our checking account and the end result was I was told to “Just wake up tomorrow and decide to be happy.”


        • Translated as, “Don’t get a divorce because we don’t want him whining about child support or making us look bad.”

          • Sigh – I just wish I hadn’t been blackballed.

            Fuckwit’s family was our “primary” family and hosted my widowed father as well to gatherings. He has Alzheimers so I don’t think he quite gets it so it hurts me when he looks sad and confused.

            The only person on his side of the family who has actually asked me “How ARE you?’ is my teenage niece.

            The hurt still creeps in.

            Fuck it… Alexa (aka the spying bitch) play Lizzo “Good as Hell”!!

    • Agreed the ex “OUTLAWS” are it on your side mine were so useless they wouldn’t even fly out to help the kids!????

    • Mere months after the divorce was final I dropped my children off at my in-laws’ house on Christmas Day. I kissed them, told them I loved them, and that I would see them in a few days when their father brought them back to my house. Minutes later I received a text from Cheater o’Mine that it was rude of me not to come in and say hello to his parents and to him. He managed to make me feel like I’d committed the year’s most egregious sin. It took much more time and distance before I could see those comments for what they were–horse manure.

      By the next Christmas Miss Plastic Parts was divorced and my ex-in-laws (two of the most judgmental people I’ve ever known) warmly welcomed her into their home. Blood will always be thicker than water so you can’t hope that your ex-in-laws will ever have what’s best for you at heart. Such stories, where the cheater’s parents watch out for the chump, are unicorn tales. No Contact works with ex-family, too. Move on. Move up.

  • The toughest battles I fight are the ones where what I want, and understand, and intend, run counter to the culture in which I was raised.

    At those times, the only way I’ve found that get me through are the put-your-head-down-and-plow-through approach. After a long time of doing this, two things have happened. One, the people have finally realized that they can’t push me back to my old ways (which caused most of them to shun or at least intensely dislike me), and two, I found peace with the life I actually want to live AND with the fact that doing so means I lost those people.

    So much room, and time, now, for the people I DO want in my life.

    May not work for everyone, but it’s helped me, a lot. It was a tough, tough road. Nobody who has lived it understands it. I understand it, and I support it.

    I feel for you and send strength and support.

    • Very perceptive comment.

      You are still operating on old patterns and rules, trying to be the good daughter-in-law just as you kept behaving like the good wife while your husband was cheating on you and while you were divorcing.
      You were trained to believe this good behavior of yours would earn you approval and would pave the way to a good life.
      Now that you can see that this behavior is not producing the “correct” results, you need to adopt other, more self-protective behavior.
      Your ex-mil is feeding you more of the same expectations of subservient self-sacrifice, urging you to continue toeing the line with good behavior.
      Don’t buy her line, don’t take her suggestions, and don’t allow her to make you feel bad if you don’t do what is designed not for your benefit for her hers and her son’s.

  • I think there is such a thing as “taking the high road” a bit too far. Wishing your ex all the best when he not only married the OW, but flaunted it in your face is a good example. It is far too late to call everyone out on the dysfunctional behavior but you can and should treat them as second class citizens from here on out. If your MIL decides to chide you again on not going along with the program, tell her as calmly as possible that your days of tolerating low class behavior are over. They can take the name calling, being angry and lashing out and just chalk it up to you behaving badly or being jealous. What these people have a hard time with is being in the category of “low class” or having someone think of them as guttersnipes. Again you can tell MIL you are raising your child much differently that she raised your ex, but always make these remarks in a calm and dismissive manner. So your kid doesn’t get to be with his grandparents, so what. As soon as OW becomes pregnant your son will just be an after thought and will only be seen out of obligation. Your son deserves better.

  • I have some news for you. Your child will not care if he visits his g’parents. Mine lived close by and I cared about them but not with the deep love I had for my mother. My dad traveled so much he was not in my life every day. I loved him but Mother was my rock. My point is that unless they are kind, and loving to you, and keep your loss as a guide in how they treat you, don’t give them the time of day. They have a new DIL. They have circled the wagons. Get on with your life.

  • You are not hurting your son by minimizing your exposure to the cheater or the ho. And if exMil can’t understand that, or chooses to question it, she can be avoided too. Your parenting decisions are yours to make and not hers to question. You arent raising another cheater, so she probably doesn’t understand the direction your decisions are taking. These are consequences of his actions and she can handle it with him if she doesn’t like it.

    • “Your parenting decisions are yours to make and not hers to question”…solid gold

  • The in-laws will play nice for appearances and string you along, but make no mistake they will put their blood over you. No matter the craziness of your ex it’s a rare circumstance that they actually enforce a boundary you would approve of when considering your kids or your pain. They just don’t.

    My ex in-laws were supportive and friendly for exactly as long as it took for me to lawyer up against my ex (after more lies and manipulations). Once I decided I needed to defend myself from their perfect child I was cast out. It hurts at first, but with time and distance you’ll be fine. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, so it’s probably better to get away.

  • You feel compelled to tolerate this because South Asian? I hope there’s a parallel South Asian teaching to balance that.

    “They kept calling to see if I will drop him.”

    Block the nuisance calls. Ghost them. That’s a silent “No.”

    • You’ve got me thinking now. Nope, we idealize female self-sacrifice. Maybe I should think up one for the many, many women who deal with this shit back home.

      • Suggested South Asian philosophy new rule: Shit comes from assholes. Limit your exposure accordingly. 😉

        No matter where we are from, we need to break free from harmful cultural teachings. You’ve been taught to be submissive and agreeable. It’s sexist crap, so throw it away and starting doing you, the real you, not the culturally programmed version. The you that’s allowed to be angry about being mistreated and doesn’t have to wish your abuser well. Ugh! How you choked that one out I do not know. You certainly owe him no goodwill. You can be civil for the sake of co-parenting your son, but that’s as far as you need to go.

        You also have no responsibility towards your in-laws as they are no longer your family. People who ambush you like that can do so only with malice towards you. Now the MIL is trying to guilt trip you for what is their fault and telling you that *you* are the bad parent, not her scumbag son who casually dumped his family? Oh hell no. It’s fruitless to try to reason with such a manipulative person. She knows she’s wrong and knows her son is a pig, but she likely won’t ever, to her dying day, admit the truth. You don’t need to ever talk to her again, let alone sweetly. She’s a fraud, hiding her malevolence behind a culturally appropriate veneer. The whole family sucks, by the sound of it. Your dirtbag ex is responsible for bringing them their grandson, not you.
        This incident can be the your ticket to freedom from these awful people and from toxic cultural expectations. I hope you get free.

        • chumpupthevolume-

          Amen! Sure wish I would have heard those words when I was going through a similar hell. Very well said.

      • You have the chance to be one of the few who begins to change those views. While acting in your own best interest, and in turn also your child’s, you will be de-bunking that discriminating, chauvinistic idealization. View yourself as being a leader in changing things for the better for women.

  • Fuck. That. Shit.

    Your pain makes them uncomfortable. To fix that, they want you to smooth things over so they can tell themselves: “Look! Everything is great here! Look how happy everyone is!”


    Stand your ground.

  • Mashal, I totally did this with my first ex.

    He had left the state after I divorced him because he said it was “too hard” to stay in the state with me and my kid. He had to “move on”. (He moved on to his mom’s house in another state. lol) I was a young mom who was feeling guilty for dumping the cheater, and frankly had daddy issues because of my own upbringing, decided I ALONE will thwart this and make sure he has a good relationship with his daughter!!

    I would drive twice a year about 5 and 1/2 hours away so he could spend a month out of the summer with our daughter, and then do it again for Thanksgiving. There was no court order directing me to do this. I just knew he wouldn’t bother to come back to our state for a visit. And I was right.

    Do you wanna know what it got me? Zero. It became expected of me. As my daughter got older, she didn’t really want to go because she missed me and wanted to just stay home. (His family was extremely religious, didn’t even own a TV set and my kid felt trapped there.) The ex and his family took that to mean I was holding her back, which I wasn’t. I just wasn’t forcing her to go somewhere she didn’t want to go. But do you think any of those assholes drove the 5 and 1/2 hours up to see her? Nope. Not once. I should also mention, the ex was NOT paying me child support. And I STILL did it. face-palm.

    The moral of the story is, if it was so important to him, he would have made the trek here. I didn’t need to do a thing for them. You’re not obligated to do this either. Divorce means freedom. And if they want to see your child, they can arrange it with you and let them do the work and travel and meet you!

    • Rumblekitty, you are totally right. My mother and father divorced when I was 11. We hardly ever saw him even when he lived in the same town. When I was 16, I moved to a small town 60 miles away. I started to make contact with him so I could stay at his house and I could go out partying in a much larger town. I built a relationship with him.

      After college I moved 3.5 hours away to San Francisco. He was born there and had other family there but only came to visit me once. I have lived in London 23 years and he has been here twice. I was just in Las Vegas for Christmas and did he take the opportunity to visit? No even though my sister and her girls live there so he could have seen all his grandchildren. I just booked a trip to SF and Yosemite for Easter, both of which are in driving distance to his home. I decided I would not feel obligated to visit. I have taken responsibility for making sure we see each other for over 40 years. I am done. I love him but I will no longer make a larger effort than he will to attend to the relationship.

      As for my 13 year old daughter, she hasn’t seen her father for 5 months. He wants to see her but she refuses. I expect she will never want a relationship with him but if she does, it will be later when she has grown up and it will look more like mine with my father does. I love my dad but don’t rely on him and don’t turn to him when I need a shoulder to cry on.

      My husband dumped me and our daughter for a new baby and younger woman. He is not with her but does see the baby. I told him his dream of combining the two families was untenable and he would have to choose. He would have to accept that he would only have an adult relationship with one of his daughters and he would have to choose. He said I gave him an impossible choice but it wasn’t me but was the consequence of his actions. So he kept running off to OW and trying to work it out with me until I said no more. And his daughter said he didn’t deserve any more chances and she doesn’t want anything to do with him.

      The worst thing is that because she won’t see him, I am responsible for keeping up her relationship with his parents and sister. His sister is fine because she is on my side in this. I believe his dad is as well. His mother is careful to say the right things to me but she says he is her son and she loves him. I don’t know how this will work. I have to take my daughter to Germany to see them in Feb. I am trying to make it feel like less of an obligation by taking a couple of days to go sightseeing with my daughter while we are there. But this is the second time in a few months that I have had to make trips to see them and I don’t know how long I want to do it. I could send my daughter alone but I don’t think she would want to go on her own. As with the rest of my life, my husband has made a huge mess of it.

      • You don’t “have to.” You can choose to do that. And your in-laws can choose to do the work to maintain their relationship. Don’t enable people. It’s not your “obligation.” See what happens in you DON’T reach out an arrange things. See how motivated THEY are to drive or fly or take time off work to see your daughter. Your daughter can Skype or FaceTime or find other ways to stay connected if she wants to. But don’t take on the “obligation” to do all the work and sacrifice.

        This is about the same thing a doing all the work of dating. What you want to know is whether the other party is committed. And if you do the work FOR them, you’ll never know.

  • My children would not have had a relationship with their paternal grandparents, even when I was married to their father, if I had not provided the effort. His brother’s wife and I did the lion’s share of all the work for birthdays and holidays for years while our children were small.. His mother was an absolute narcissist, and his father had no idea how to be a good father. Great grandfather had abandoned his family when the grandfather was young. He wanted a family, but had no skills, and he did not have the will to stand up to his wife.
    My father has always been a control freak, and had alcohol issues. His father was a full blown alcoholic. His mother married when she got pregnant, at 13, and became more insane as the years passed. They welcomed the children and their spouses and grandchildren to their home, but it was always chaotic.
    My mother was the only grandparent my children had who acted like a normal grandparent, according to our cultural expectations.
    My sons grew up and have fairly normal lives, and seem happy, despite all the dysfunction in the family.

    I think it is important for me to know that I was as good a mother as I could be for my children. Not perfect, but I always thought of their needs first, and did the best I could do for them. I made it clear when I divorced their dad that I would always be their mother. I expected them to be respectful to all other adults, even other women their dad introduced to them, but that none of the other adults in their life would be their mother. I doubt any child would confuse another person reading a book to them for their mother. The babysitter or the lady at the library could do that. Adults who deceive you to get to your child are not worthy of any future consideration, or inconvenience on your part.

    My Ex went thru many, many women openly after our divorce, and finally married a much younger Asian woman. I think she needed a green card and money, and he expected a servant. Neither got what they wanted, but that is their problem. She thought marriage would elevate her to the status of mother to my children. She was disappointed. She couldn’t even make it thru one holiday, they eat out whenever they see my sons. My son’s tolerate her, and know their dad is not a pleasant person to be married to, but she gave up pretty quick on the mother job. I do not socialize with them, although they did sit nearby when my son’s graduated from college and my oldest got married.

    The point of all this is we don’t live in a world that runs like Hallmark television moments. Parents and grandparents can get the job biologically, but not be up to it in reality. You can be civil without being cordial. If they want to actually be active in your child’s life, they can make the effort and do the work. You do not owe them anything. Do the best you can for your children, as they grow up they will figure it out.

  • Sit with Owife and talk about your son and his father

    Your ex MIL shows her true colours in this statement.
    “When pigs fly” would be a good response.

    You have integrity, you are truth, you are kindness. These people, your ex, his Owife, ALL of his family, have proven to no longer be worthy of ever being in your presence.
    Only do what you have to do that is in the best interest of your precious son.
    Keep on being the present, sane, loving parent.
    They deserve nothing, a big fat 0, from you.
    You made one mistake in taking your son on this visit, but you have learned from this mistake.
    Meanwhile, you have beside you, your precious son. He is right where he belongs.
    The rest of them can rot in hell. They are disgusting!

    ( I share a very strong dislike for cheaters who cheat on pregnant Chumps, I earned this right, it did not come easy)

  • You mentioned being Asian….are your in-laws as well? IMHO this is where the “saving face” cultural conditioning really really does some damage… YOU! I don’t know if that’s part of your story here, but if so do what you can to throw that overboard to save YOURSELF. Saving face at the expense of massive emotional damage to the whole person is upsetting to me. My in-laws are masters of impression management and live on the farthest planet from Authentic….it’s how my husband fooled me for so many years. He was trained by parents who both have black belts in insincerity. My biggest mistake was believing what he said. And they will all go to any lengths to keep that fake impression in place….they have no problem throwing me in front of the train. Your in-laws have thrown you in front of the train too.

    The most important suggestions have already been said by Chump Lady. Following them is the hard part….but lifesaving.

  • I too had “unresolved” in-law issues. They resolved to cut me dead and I resolved not to die. I won.

  • I’m sorry you are going through this. The loss of my in-law family of 26 years and their discard of their grandkids was shocking. However, in looking back, they were always extremely selfish and unkind people— I was good at spackling. It’s over. My kids have me. Dad sees kids a few times a month. He plays favorites. It’s sick. Good riddance. I’m the sane one. That’s all I can control.

    Focus on building that one precious life of yours. Go no-contact with the former in-laws. It’s no longer your concern. I’m sorry. Reality hurts but it is what it is…. otherwise it would be different.

    We are here for you.

  • My mother-in-law was pretty neutral towards me through divorce and afterwards. With the XW I tried to stay NC and then grey rock when we met at major family events. I remarried in a few years and my new wife and XMiL hit it off really well. I am sure that drove XW crazy which I still enjoy thinking about. The validation she craved from her mom was given to her XH’s new wife…
    The rest of her family may just as well have fallen into a black hole. I am a pretty handy guy and was in demand to fix their respective houses, move pianos or use my truck to haul their moving boxes. But I heard not one word of sympathy or an act of support.

  • The advice here is great! Listen to everyone and save yourself. Ex in-laws couldn’t care less that my ex lied, cheated and threatened me out of marital residence to move in the hoe. Ex-father in-law had dinner with her and acted like it was no big deal. We were married over 15 years. He has backed his cheating son to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars and my ex calls him Ediot behind his back. I am no contact with any in-laws and kids can see them on their FATHERS time. These people learned morals from guess who? In-laws
    Every time I think of my ex in-laws I think of that Country Song “My in-laws are outlaws and they ain’t wanted here.”
    Someone told me when you get divorced you keep your family and they keep there family. This is a blessing in my case I have a large extended family; that are always there for each other and never talk bad about you behind you back. They are true family! My ex’s family only look out for themselves, generally talk bad about each other behind backs and only stick together when they have a common enemy. I have been the enemy for 3 years, because I found boundaries, a good lawyer and I have the truth to expose them. They are all Narcissists!

  • the one thing i learned the hard way is that .. .. .. .. YOU CAN NOT BE NICE to these people. .. Because they will use your kindness against you. To protect your kind heart, you need to STOP trying to be nice to people who have no heart. Do not worry, you dont owe them anything. they have no heart at all, they might throw a little fit but in truth they dont care. Come on, what kind of woman thinks it is ok to read baby a book while mother is in the living room eating snacks and tea? how did that conversation go? “Hey honey, can you please go get baby so i can read him a book?” They couldnt wait to read baby a book on their own visiting time? you were there so baby can see grandpa and grandma, not play with daddy and his new toy. she is definitely playing with your ex and putting on a show..he apparently thinks she is authentic but believe me it is all for show. Thank God your baby is too little to know any difference and probably just enjoyed having a book read to him.

    From this point on, just follow the court ordered visitations. IF his mom “kept calling you asking when you will be dropping him off” just reply that she needs to talk to her son when he will take the baby to see her. Maybe politely tell your ex-in-laws that you can not afford the 5 hour trip and it is hard on baby. Suggest that grandma and grandpa them are welcome to drive to your house for a visit. (or maybe take the bus and you can pick them up at the bus station) That is more then what you are obligated to do. Cherish and guard YOUR time with your child. instead of driving him 5 hours to visit people who have zero respect for his mom, take him to the zoo, or even just the public library (our library has a toddler time where they read a book and make a craft) or better yet take him to YOUR parents house and visit them. .. .. if your ex’s parents/family really want to be a part of your son’s life they will find a way to do. and put in the effort. It is NOT YOUR JOB to make baby’s dad, grandparents or anyone have a good relationship with baby. They fired you from that position.

    Enjoy your freedom, guilt free.

  • My son did the exact same thing to his ex wife, except marrying affair partner. His ex wife, refused to be treated like crap. Divorced him with her head held high. My (ex) DIL is a great person, mom and was a very patient wife. I totally support her, even financially at first. Even though they live in a different state, she freely gives me access to my grandson. I refuse to meet my sons mistress, I refuse to get over it and make peace. My son had always been the person others wanted to be and be with. Unfortunately I now think image management ? I truly believed he was the exact opposite of his dad. Nope! I now wish I had left years earlier, so my son had a good role model. Speak and act the truth. Dad behaves like an ass, in-laws are wrong and the OW lacks morals. Your most important job is to show him what a good adult looks like. I applaud you, a standing ovation. I’m in my 60,s and it took me this long to stand up for myself.

  • My son did the exact same thing to his ex wife, except marrying affair partner. His ex wife, refused to be treated like crap. Divorced him with her head held high. My (ex) DIL is a great person, mom and was a very patient wife. I totally support her, even financially at first. Even though they live in a different state, she freely gives me access to my grandson. I refuse to meet my sons mistress, I refuse to get over it and make peace. My son had always been the person others wanted to be and be with. Unfortunately I now think image management ? I truly believed he was the exact opposite of his dad. Nope! I now wish I had left years earlier, so my son had a good role model. Speak and act the truth. Dad behaves like an ass, in-laws are wrong and the OW lacks morals. Your most important job is to show him what a good adult looks like. I applaud you, a standing ovation. I’m in my 60,s and it took me this long to stand up for myself.

    Site is being weird!

    • Good for you! It takes a lot to stand up for what’s right sometimes. Especially if doing what’s right is standing up for your ex DIL at a cost to your own son. Consequences. You may not have been able to stand up to your EHB years ago but, you’re standing up FOR your grandkids now. That is truly admirable. Again, GOOD FOR YOU!!!

  • Recently signed up and my first post, although I feel like my name is a total misnomer!

    I’m South Asian too and can totally relate to how our cultural upbringing, especially as women is a hard mindfuck to shake. I too was brought up to be the “good girl”. Treat your inlaws nice, your husband nicer, put up with everything, look after everyone but yourself and anything that goes wrong is your fault.

    My ex hasn’t even told his parents we’ve been separated for a year. I wasted 25 years and kicked him out 12 years after the first Dday (on the 4th Dday). It’s been the toughest thing I’ve had to endure even without my nightmare inlaws in the loop.

    My parents reacted like your inlaws. Their advice has consisted of wondering what I did wrong, suggesting it’s menopause, and recommending I let him live in the house and we pretend for the sake of the “Community” that we’re a happy family. Oh, and also “what about the children!!!”. The South Asian community where I live has a few separated couples who everyone knows are separated but they continue to behave as it they’re together in public and nobody comments on it and goes along with the sham. It makes me want to vomit.

    Everyone on this site is giving you great advice. Read it over and over. Get CL’s book. Read it over and over until what your mind already knows is right is able to push you in synch with your actions. For me, it’s been one microscopic step after another. It took me 3 years of really thinking about it to finally leave. I’m still no contact and trying to stay on friendly terms because I’m still a chump – like i said the upbringing is hard to shake. You’re way ahead of me. Keep going. Minimize contact as much as you can. Don’t try to explain because they won’t get it. Put more onus on them to make the effort for your kid. Give them the legally required access but they have to collect and drop off. It’s not your problem anymore. I know it’s hard and you will be seen as the baddie regardless of what you do or not. But you will get to the point where what you gain will still be worth it.

    • Think, too, of how you are blazing a trail for other women in the community to stop eating shit sandwiches and stand up for themselves.

      • Thanks! It’s so strange that many of my South Asian friends and I have been here for generations but I fully expect that the majority will still bash me for not sticking to the plan. Trying not to care, and telling myself that as long as I’m setting a good example for my boys, it’s all worth it.

        • You are incredibly brave for taking a stand, I admire you so much. You are going against the system and the realization that an option to break free EXISTS is incredibly scary for people who have invested so much in the default option. That makes you a rebel and rebels are traitors. And you ARE setting a good example for the boys, and they are the only ones who matter. Part of the reason my ex-MIL was unsupportive/cold/mean is probably this too. She is the kind of woman that is treated like furniture (it’s very sad to witness), she is extremely quiet, submissive, no thoughts of her own. She thinks that’s what women are supposed to do, and suddenly this ex-dil comes along who embraced single motherhood and is still not cracking.

          • It’s so hard to relate to. I think that’s my mum’s issue as well, and it’s like all thoughts point back to blaming me. Really, sometimes I think she’s in cahoots with my X!

            I’m so proud of you too! This is a journey and you will learn so much a long the way. I totally understand why you are making the effort to take your child over. It’s what we do, right? We make nice. It’s our default. I’m trying to internalize that being nice in this case does not translate into any returns.

            You already know inside what is right and I’m so happy you did not lose more years. Remember that and keep going. The relationship your child has with your X and Xinlaws is on them to cultivate and make an effort for. Your child will grow up seeing your strong example and learn from your principles and integrity. And who cares what anyone else thinks!

      • To be honest, my biggest motivator is kinda that, more specifically my boys. Once I internalized that I was modelling not only how to be a doormat but also how to treat women, I realized I needed to get the strength. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • This just pisses me off… are deserving of much more respect as the mother of their grandchild, but they raised a cheater, so don’t hold your breath. Take control of this and respect yourself and your son. Go no contact with the grandparents, let your ex take care of that on his time. If they try to say …”blah, blah, harming your child…blah”, know that they are WRONG! You are protecting your son as much as you can from evil influences who sweep this kind of behavior under the rug and blame the victim. Be the sane mom, and as your son grows older model integrity and honesty, and tell him your story as he ages, no gaslighting the children. Take your power back from people who don’t deserve it.

    • yep, and when they say “blah,blah, harming your child”. .. .. her response should be “your son was the one who harmed our child by cheating in the first place, this is NOT on me but on X” and maybe tell them they need to be telling that to X and not you.

  • My FiL had passed by the time his daughter’s infidelity became known. I am glad he did not see that behavior from her. But I missed him through the process and I think his influence would have been helpful. She told me she wanted a divorce one year to the day after he died.

  • I love this:
    You have a NEW life. Yes, even if that life is unformed right now. Even if that life is Netflix on the sofa with your imaginary friend Bob and a bag of Doritos.

    (Imaginary Bob fluffs the sofa cushions next to him and beckons you to sit down.)

    Netflix comedies got me through the THREE F*ING years of crying because I am a chump! but now I watch romantic love stories…..

    You WILL get through this… I don’t have a real Bob yet, but maybe one day, but right now I am making my life go. Focus on your precious baby and don’t waste ONE minute of your time with him SHARING with anyone who doesn’t give you joy.

    I kind of did the Marie Kondo with friends and acquaintances (yes, ex-in laws too). It’s funny how many Switzerland supposedly friends were. My ex-MIL just dropped me EVEN after his sister told him what he had done. OW was his best friend’s (best man at our wedding 25 yrs ago) fiancé and he was her boss. It doesn’t get any narcissistic than that. and I am the loser? I think not. He dropped our 3 kids- five years ago and they are now more pissed than me. Character is what you do, not what you say. Has true meaning.

    Show your little one – you will not tolerate abuse no matter how “pretty”, “social”, etc, it is. They were mean to you because you were kind, they knew what they were doing, they were unusually cruel to you. You don’t OWE them anything.

    Good luck dear. Go be fabulous without “your”, strike that, THE fuckwit. You can do it and we are here to remind every day.

  • Not your family, not your job. Bank the $$ you might have spent visiting them and take your son to Disney World (or your fun preference) when he is old enough to remember and enjoy the experience. Use **your* time and money to make memories with your son.

    Grey rock your former in laws. Don’t give hem the opportunity to hurt you anymore.

  • “What matters is that no one disturbs their well-ordered life or their image of their son as a Good Person.”
    This needs to be on a Tshirt.

    • This. That was the point of the whole circus. Like I mentioned, my ex-mil suggested that you and OWife are both “educated” women (another word for respectable, it’s also a taunt for me because I am doing my PhD), why don’t you sit and talk about the ex and the son. My sister remarked that absurdity aside, its a stupid suggestion because you can spill all the beans to OWife and turn her honeymoon period to shit. Ex-mil isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

      • Also, the centrality. Her son must naturally be the center of any conversation between two of ‘his’ women. After all, what else is there for these women to talk, about except the Great I Am?

        I’m sure this is partly cultural, but it’s also really common when Mom has raised her son as a narcissist with a huge sense of entitlement, namely that he can cheat on his pregnant wife and everyone will pretend that’s not a big deal.

  • This is so hard. My ex parents in law will be here to visit (my cheating and lying ex
    husband, married 17 years, 3 kids– who fucked the 23 year old nanny and left).
    They come for the kids’ spring break and I am just expected to coordinate pick up
    and drop offs with him so his parents can see all three kids during the break. The kids would
    otherwise be home with my mother and they do love seeing their grandparents, but my
    ex- parents in law refuse to speak to me and never thank me for letting me see the kids on my custody
    days. I told them about the adultery and they accused me of lying and told me I was crazy.
    They have supported him through the entire divorce.

    • “They come for the kids’ spring break and I am just expected to coordinate pick up
      and drop offs with him so his parents can see all three kids during the break. The kids would
      otherwise be home with my mother and they do love seeing their grandparents, but my
      ex- parents in law refuse to speak to me and never thank me for letting me see the kids on my custody

      WHY do you have to do any of this? I would do nothing more than what is in the custody agreement. Hell to the no as far as giving them any of your time.

    • This is insane. You have custody time for a reason. You do NOT have to coordinate your X-in laws visits with your kids ON YOUR TIME. Send XH an email saying that you’ve shut down the chauffeur service and his parents can see the kids on his time– or he can choose a day and come and arrange the visit with you himself. If they refuse to even speak with you, thankfully you won’t have to listen to their bullshit.

      Don’t do other peoples’ work for them. If it’s convenient for your mom to have a few days off, let XH coordinate that and get your approval. And the kids should be home when you get home from work so YOU don’t lose time with them. Stand up for yourself.

      • And don’t expect thanks from narcissists. It’s always about them. Figure out how YOU want this to be handled and then make sure that you are not doing anything or sacrificing anything for these visits.

      • I agree with this somewhat. it sounds like daddy does not have visitations since he left. therefore, i would not encourage him to have visitations either. if his mom and dad only see the children during spring break then it is a small price to pay to have full custody and zero visitation with dad. .. .. it might suck for now, but it will only be for a little while and then the teens can decide if they want to continue visitations with their dad’s parents or not. . .

        i say this IF only your ex does not have scheduled or regular visitations. if dad is keeping visitations due to whatever your court order states then by all means his parents can visit the kids on his time.

    • Nolonger, don’t do it. Don’t accommodate those horrible people. If it is your time keep it fuckwitfree.

  • My MIL is housing my STBX and his “fiancee.” They’re all dysfunctional. After DDay I spoke a few times with my MIL. She had kicked them out, briefly, but they’re back now. I’ve totally blocked her. She didn’t even send Christmas gifts to her only 2 grandchildren, despite making a huge show of asking them repeatedly what they wanted. I recently met with the husband to sign divorce settlement paperwork. He said that I should text his mother if I need anything for the kids (he’s still unemployed). I didn’t say anything but thought to myself that I’d rather stick a flaming poker in my eye than to text the MIL.

    When the family of origin is unhealthy, and makes unhealthy and crazy demands, like being nice to the OW and actually giving her the time of day, it’s best to step back and not engage. It is so hurtful. Mashal, I hope that you keep well away from them and take care of yourself. It’s so hard to say no, and to finally stand up for yourself, but it’s necessary to healthy healing.. I’m learning slowly myself that this is the case.

  • Not your family, not your job. Bank the money you would have spend on these visits and use it to make memories with your son. (Sidebar – If Disney or the like is an option for you wait until he can remember it and can handle the walking!)

    Grey rock your former in-laws so not to give them an opening to hurt you again.

    We are here sending you love and powerful energy!!

  • The inlaws want everyone to be amicable and ok with it even though they know what their despicable son and his wifemistress did whilst his WIFE was pregnant with their grandchild. It may be acceptable to them but we have higher standards here. You have been more than accommodating to those in laws. The nerve of the wifemistress reading a book to your child! These people crave acceptance thinking they can paint over their heinous actions. ( that’s why they marry so soon after divorce coating their indecency with a ceremony of ”respectability”) Give them a wide berth and any contact with your son is in your ex husbands time and should not encroach on your time or your life

    • It’s the set-up that’s so heinous… not the book reading per se. The whole thing is an exercise in mind fuckery. And then the added delight of realizing you drove yourself and walked through the door under your own free will. That’s the bitch – they know you are a good person and they just use it and your cultural mores it to hurt you.


  • You have to prevent damage? You have to? This smacks of ‘its not our sons behaviour which was the problem it’s your reaction to it.’

    Fuck that noise.
    You’re stronger than that. They can see him when jerkface cheaterpants has him.

    You deserve so much more. Stop thinking you have to please other people. Please you.

    • Agree ^^. When I divorced 4 years ago after 32 yrs of cheater pants defiling every single even in our lives, I also took his entire family off my plate. The X FIL passed away a few weeks ago and somehow these ppl thought I would want to go to the funeral/service. No thank you …. they showed me who they really were too over the last few years. Baby boy who walked on water in their minds just wanted me there for “image management”. My adult kids attended and Xah dragged some strange date along to make him look somewhat normal. Ackward as it must have been she was only a reminder to his family that “she wasn’t me”. Thats what I was told. We owe them NOTHING and if the children are minors then the court decides visitation. Clearly my X was the one trying hard to look normal to his family.
      Bye Felecia’s ~~

  • Just a note to say that there are exceptions to the in law issue. My MIL was very supportive of me and my family and was very critical of her son to the extent that he never did in 10 years take his OW – live in partner – to visit her. He never took his mother to visit his apartment or indeed mentioned OW despite MIL knowing long before he left that he had been unfaithful because I told her.

    I’m sorry for all those who have in laws who cleave to the blood is thicker than water belief. Just sometimes it isn’t. You all deserve better than these blinkered parents in law. Stop contact – you owe them nothing.

    • Ex-FIL is dead but I’m still ok with ex-MIL. She and her son clash like crazy and while I have no doubt she loves him I think she sees him for what he is and she’s still good with me. I only call her a couple of times a year and never see her because we are on different continents, but last time we spoke she started telling me she really doesn’t care for latest Schmoopie, said “she’s not fun like you were but I have to respect his choice”. I also heard some of the half truths/lies he (and Schmoops) have been telling her so I put her straight on a few things. In the end it’s water under the bridge to me but I have to say that my ex-inlaws are still ok with me and my kids. In fact my youngest and his new wife are going to make a surprise visit to the States to see her end February (just hope the shock doesn’t kill her)!

    • I once went on a vacation with a friend and her ex-sister-in-law. Sometimes water is indeed thicker than blood!

  • There is a big difference between not interfering in the relationship your child and ex maintain v. actually forcing a relationship between child and your ex and his tribe.

    Not interfering means just that – you do whatever the court told you to do, no more, no less. You do not go out of your way to offer up anything. If your ex decides to drift, not pick up his child when he should, not spend time with him, etc. that’s on your ex and you step out of it. All you do is document what he is and isn’t doing.

    Forcing is going out of your way to nurture the relationship by driving child over when you aren’t required, calling and texting your ex and exhorting to behave like a good parent, dealing with ex-in-laws, etc. It’s a shit sandwich you are making for yourself and eating yourself for no reason other than misplaced ideas of parent relationships and being the bigger person. It is indeed a form of pick me dancing still – look how great I am, I can come over and drink tea while OW plays with my child in the next room even if I’ll be sobbing in the car later and vomiting that tea up on the side of the road.

    Start accepting that your ex and his tribe are ALL toxic people. Apple never falls far from the tree. Your child is NOT better off spending time with toxic people just because they happen to share DNA. On top of that, your child is a toddler so his parents not living together is his normal life. It’s not a shock, it’s not damaging, it’s just what his life looks like. He doesn’t know anything different.

    If you all live far away, then count your blessings and go live your life away from all these people. They are not your family, they do not have your or your child’s interests at heart and the sooner you accept that, the better you’ll be off. In short, don’t go swimming in a toxic lake just because it looks pretty and blue. You know it’s toxic, so keep away. If you thought your MIL was so sweet, now you know the truth – her sweetness is not genuine and never was. You were just as duped by her as your ex.

    • exactly!!! i am also wondering why the OP thought it was her job to take her ex his water bottle that he left behind? Let him get his own damn water bottle. STOP being nice to him. he fired her from that job.

      the whole thing sounds like a complete set up to me. first she called her in-laws to schedule the visitation, then drove 5 hours to get there, then they ask if she could stay for tea and snacks (knowing that she will not say no), and ironically daddy and his girlfriend are at the house also (not sure if op knew he would be there or if he lives there) and while baby is playing in the living room where his grandparents are (and the whole reason she drove the 5 hours) daddy takes child from living room to a whole other room so girlfriend can read him a book?!?!?! conveniently leaving his water bottle ? .. .. .. .. not saying that something else would have happened had she NOT taking the water bottle to him but still i cant get over the fact that she would even THINK she should take the water bottle to him in the first place. Maybe she was just curious to where daddy took baby, not expecting girlfriend to be there or whatever.

      But THIS IS THE WHOLE reason to not do these things. of course the in-laws knew dad was there in the other room with the girlfriend. apparently they were not too upset when dad took baby out of the room during THEIR visiting time. it is not like grandparents were reading the book to the child. they were busy distracting mom with tea and snacks. I think this whole thing could be avoided if they just stick to the visitation schedule. That is why it is there.

      • Hi! The whole thing started when I started to leave and they insisted that I stay. I wanted to go, the previous visits were essentially a quick intro for my son and exit after making sure they got son’s bag and he was comfortable, ten minutes tops. Then the tea trolley with the snacks (sigh) rolled in and the circus kicked off with extra chirpy conversation. It was deeply uncomfortable for me from the word go.

        • i understand. i did not mean anything hurtful. in my opinion the whole thing was just a set up. this is not easy, that is for sure. i feel like they are using your kindness against you. time to protect that loving heart of yours. retrain that brain and remind yourself that you have been fired from that position. it is not your job anymore.

          good luck. stay strong.

  • I spent way too long trying to understand his family’s denial. I finally realized they will not change and I did not want people that condoned this behavior in my life. My life is better and they are stuck with him and his ho-worker My only guilt is that my daughter has to deal with them now.

  • “I share photos, videos, updates with exes family. Encourage visitation.”

    Why? Why are you doing this? Time to stop being “sweet” and start respecting yourself. You were fired from the job of keeping Fuckwit’s parents updated on your child. Stop sending and sharing. Lock down your social media so no one on that side can see what you post or contact you. Delete them from your phone. Block their emails. Just do it! There is ZERO reason for you to have contact with any of them. Plan your own birthday parties with your own family and friends. Stick to the custody schedule. Let your X do the work of keeping his parents updates.

    And are you in too much contact with your X? Lock that down too. Unless Kiddo is with his father, there is not reason to take texts or phone calls from him and then only in an emergency.

    We all suffer from being told not to judge people. Judge. Judge whether people are decent, kind, honorable. Judge whether they have your best interest at heart. Your XH is a jackass, a cheater, a liar. His parents raised him. None of them have your best interest at here. Time to cut the cord to the in-laws, for good. Time to make self-respect and self-worth more important than what bad people think of you. “Sweet” isn’t the same thing as kind, or honest, or decent.

  • Mashal, lunch is over. You should put the shit sandwich down and not take another bite. It sounds like no-contact should apply to your in-laws as well as your ex-husband.

  • Marshal, read the column from last week about “Nice vs. Kind.” It’s an eye-opener.

    • That was spot on. They are very nice in the eyes of society at large. But the dysfunction and coldness is hidden from view and I got a front seat to it. I never created a scene because no one would believe me anyway. Only my closest friends and family knew why the marriage ended. Even my parents took their time in trusting that he sucks.

  • To CL and CN, thank you for your help in rewiring my circuitry. Not to put all the blame on socialization because it WAS a mistake on my part to overdo yet again, but its been difficult to shake off old patterns of what a “good girl” does. They pop up when I am not vigilant. To put things in perspective, in our culture women are advised to treat in-laws like blood family. We are advised to call our in-laws Mom and Dad, try to assimilate/compromise, and we are expected to earn validation. It is considered the marker of a good upbringing. I try to be accommodating to them also because I thought I have compartmentalized my relationship with them and my ex, for the sake of my son. But I see now that whatever their words have been, actions count and I need to let them do the hard work of meeting their grandson. And finally what I realized in that one terrible moment is I shouldn’t model fakery to my son and I am GLAD he was too young to understand what’s going on. If I show him sucking it up and faking for the benefit of others’ self-image is the right thing to do, he will be primed for a lifetime of hypocrisy. That is a horrible thing to learn.

    • That’s same in many cultures, most cultures to varying degrees really. However the operative part is “in law”. The relationship is created through law of marriage. Guess what? You are now divorced and so the deal is off. They are not your family, they are not your in-laws either. They are effectively nothing to you and you owe them nothing. Divorce releases you from those responsibilities.

      As much as this whole situation sucks, it sounds like an eye opening experience for you. You were without question set up. Narcs love a good triangle and his family was complicit in that charade. Now you know beyond any shadow of the doubt that these people, all of them, are toxic nasty creatures to be avoided and your child to be protected as much as you can from them within legal limits.

      Let your ex and his family make the effort and if they don’t, count your blessings. Narcs cause a lot of damage and sometimes especially so to their own children, so beware and do not go out of your way to foster any kind of a relationship with them for the sake of the child. It’s not really for his sake, it’s against that.

    • Yes, in my culture also women are the rock and should treat our husbands and husbands family as our own. .. i totally understand where you are coming from. ..

      However, he fired you from that job when you divorced him. you no longer need to go out of your way for either him or his parents. if they want to be in your childs life, then they will find a way. like i said before, they can either met him on daddy’s time or make the 5hour trip to visit him at your place. there is no reason for you to forfeit YOUR time, money and effort. especially when they treat you so poorly.

      the next time ex-in-laws tell you that what you are doing is harming the child, you need to tell them to talk to their son because all of this is X fault for cheating and betraying HIS marriage vows. stand up for yourself. you can do that politely and respectfully. you can say “i am sorry you feel that way but the way i see it X harmed the child when he went out of the marriage with that woman and betrayed me and baby by being with her” . .. .. or just say “you have this all wrong. i am not the one harming the baby. X did this when he stepped out of the marriage to be with another woman. i am doing what i can”

      either they get it or they dont. either way it is not up to you. you have been fired from their family.
      good luck

    • Accepting yourself as a Chump is like a rabbit hole of devastating revelations!

      It is helping me to acknowledge that for my STBX to treat me so horribly he has devalued me to the point that I mean nothing to him. That devaluing is not going to change no matter what I do……therefore I’m not doing anything for him EVER again!!!

    • That sounds like a difficult situation to navigate. But remember, you did what you could to honor your familial relationship with your ex and his parents. He ended that relationship, and they have confirmed it by accepting the OW as their new blood relative. You don’t owe them anything because they have already rejected you (whether they are willing to admit that or not—that’s their shame to deal with, not yours).

  • Mashal, you need to file this under, “No good deed goes unpunished.” There you were trying to do the nice thing and they treated you like dirt. That’s who they are, and that’s how they ended up with an asshole for a son.

    One of the best things about divorce is that you don’t have to have a relationship with your former in-laws. These are obviously people who only care about what looks good, not what really matters. It’s time to cut them off. It’s up to THEIR son to facilitate the relationship with their grandson. It’s not your job. You can stop now.

    • It’s not good deeds that get punished. It’s the things we do for others that they’re their responsibility. The same goes for good intentions. It’s not Mashal’s obligation to take the child to them if they could come and visit and if their son could use his time for it. Also,it’s not her obligation after they stabbed her in the back so badly.

  • I have been slow to learn “your decency will not be rewarded.” I’ve sent the photos, helped the kids pick out grandparent gifts, responded to emails when the ex-inlaws were sick with worry about their jackass son’s post divorce crises, etc. And none of it matters. The minute they don’t need me, I’m the subject of accusations, vitriol, and spite. But I don’t kid myself anymore. They’d rather blame me and accept every lie that comes out of their son’s mouth than address his choices. And the kids are old enough to mange the grandparents themselves now.

    It is hard to wrap your head around the fact that you can be the well-behaved, civil, supportive, generous, “better person” in a divorce and still be treated without empathy and with disdain and cruelty.

    Once you realize it is their loss, things get easier. It is nice to imagine the kids having a great relationship with the ex-inlaws, but if they were decent people who would be good influences in the kids’ lives, then they would respect you and draw some boundaries with their son in order to sustain the relationship with the grandkids. But they don’t. And that tells you a lot of what you need to know.

    A lot of us give up our fantasies slowly. The fantasy of a happy marriage . . . the fantasy of co-parenting . . . the fantasy of our kids enjoying loving grandparents on both sides.

    • Part of this is exactly that, thinking that the paternal grandparents will show up properly. My parents on the other hand have done the grandparenting bit admirably. The nights my mom stayed up so I can get my sleep debt off, the times my father did the 9 pm diaper runs and doctor visits with me. It’s a loss for the paternal grandparents to not be part of these bonding moments.

  • It’s SO very hard to recognize and course correct the programming we’re fed and have internalized as we grow. Pain generated from repeating the same behavior our family members before us demonstrated.

    My father, a mean drunk, was a cheater. My mother the opposite. She followed the spiritual path her mother instilled. Incompatibility much?

    I chose my Mom’s paradigm. I swore to myself that my daughter would NOT grow up to see the destruction active alcoholism causes…not like the Mom and Dad horror show I watched . I was willing to go to any length to prevent that- including divorcing her mother- a practicing alcoholic.

    I remarried about 2 years later and we moved to the country. My daughter now had an older brother and sister- wife #2’s children from 2 previous marriages. (a huge Red flag ???? I chose to ignore). They adjusted well together and had each other’s back as they grew into adulthood.

    After they’d all left the nest came my D Day. I was triangulated, then discarded when she moved in with her best candidate side sausage. I divorced her within ten months of her abandonment.

    Xw’s daughter sided with her mother. I went total NC with both. That portal I closed which included 3 grandsons. Today I see my decision as collateral damage from adultery.

    Xw’s son sided with me. He’d experienced his mother’s whoring first hand earlier in his life. We are very close to this day. He continually held me accountable for practicing NC. He reminded me that MEH was my goal. He and his wife want me in their daughters life as Pappa Marcus. I’m extremely proud of Him. He is cognizant of the paradigm I demonstrated as his stepfather and see the positive attributes in Him that he took to heart. He and my daughter ARE brother and sister.

    Recovery is slow and I’m still a work in progress. I feel the threshold of new beginnings beckoning as I start my 6th decade. Grief of a loss so traumatic is a process. Grief is not sustainable and will pass.

    • What an awesome mature young man he is!! My daughter from a previous marriage was discarded by the ex’s family including her step sister who had all been in her life for 23 years. My heart broke for her. But I tell her they are missing out! Especially since she has my 2 year old granddaughter who is my joy that they have never met. I’m happy for you and your stepson ❤️

  • Nice people do nice things and horrible people take advantage of nice people. You don’t have to interact with any of these people. You don’t have to talk to them, send them cards, or see them. It’s EX responsibility to take child to interact with his family.

    After the divorce XW’s mother used to call me and leave me messages in order to get hold of XW !!!! Like I have any idea where she is it. LOL. I wouldn’t respond to the calls and eventually they ended. That’s what you have to do- walk away from the entire dysfunctional family that they are (everyone of their children ended up cheating on their spouses).

  • I love my in-laws. They have been nothing but helpful and supportive to me through this crap. But if they did this I’d never go back to their house again.

  • Memorize this: No, but thank you for asking.” Then repeat as necessary.

    Tell ex in-laws that you lawyer has said it is not my place to facilitate visits with ex’s family. He needs to plan, pick up and return according to his own schedule.

    I stopped accepting invites and calls from my inlaws. It was like taking a 400 lb gorilla off my back. You will, too. Don’t let the effers win. Hugs

  • “I have unresolved in-law issues it seems, and can’t make sense of how I react to them more than my ex-husband and OWife…So I took my son to meet ex-inlaws.”

    first mistake.

    “Our marriage ended abruptly due to his EA”

    second mistake. change that to “PA” and you’ll be on the way to cutting off his whole family.

    all the best.

  • As bad as it all was, the worst part was when she picked up her child’s drink and took it to him. Like she was their goddamn au pair!!

    Girl, go get yourself a life! Stop taking this shit off these people, cultural norms be damned!

  • Mashal,

    I am sorry that you are going through this wretched experience.

    I hope that you will not tolerate any more crap from your ex and unreasonable ex-relatives than you have to. I acted as a doormat for much of my over half-century life, tolerating horrendous treatment from partners, especially my now ex-husband, who continues to violate my (and other people’s) rights while complaining that WE are violating HIS! I don’t know exactly why he does this as he is was the one who cheated, left, financially demolished me during and after our divorce, and falsely accused me of committing terrible crimes. (Oh yeah, he’s a sociopath. I sometimes almost forget that, once upon a time, I married an extremely narcissistic sociopath.) I would like to take him to court for violating our divorce decree (keeping kids longer than he is supposed to although I try to accommodate his ever-changing schedule, not paying the little the Court mandates he pay to help keep us alive, etc.), but I cannot afford to and cannot get pro bono representation–so I continue to eat the s–t sandwich. This is what accommodating bad behavior gets you. Most likely, the more accommodating you are, the more (reasonably) resentful you will get and the unhappier you will be with life. Please don’t be me. I wish you a HAPPY life.

    • Thank you for this. I’m sorry you have to cope with this, it’s a neverending process of giving til ones empty..I’m glad I put a stop to it and it feels very unnatural to put that one boundary down. And hold firm. When you’re extremely strong, I sense they use THAT against you too.

    • Yep it’s always about their rights. Of course they decouple that from responsibility. To be respectful to the spouse who didn’t make the choice. Familiar story.

  • I’m humbled by the responses here…really. Feels like a real detox, and I see what I should do from my end. Today I’m feeling glad I am no longer a monkey in this circus, no more faking to keep the peace. Thank you to all of you.

    • Dear Mashal, it is incredibly freeing to get those boundaries up. Build a beautiful life full of love and truth for yourself and your child!

      • In the process. I have so much to wash off my skin but underneath it I see pure resolve to cut loose.

  • These people don’t care about you and will continue to move the goal posts of “decency” as long as you try to live up to their expectations. There is no reason for you ever to have any contact with these people again. Sure, you need to communicate with your ex-husband on a basic level about custody issues. But not the ex-in-laws. Beyond being in the same room as them in a couple decades when your son gets married, there’s no need to ever communicate with them again. They’ll be a lot easier to forget about once you block them on social media and cut off all communication with them, permanently.

    Also, your priority here should be to focus on yourself and forget about your ex, his parents, and his new wife. But a silver lining for you to keep in mind is that once you cut off the ex’s family they will no longer have you to triangulate with. They will not be able to blame you when your ex’s new marriage fails, or for the OW being a worthless person. OW won your ex and his family. Let them focus all their anxiety and micromanaging on her instead of you.

  • I cannot stress enough how important setting boundaries are. I didn’t do this with my ex-husband in the beginning. I’ve been divorced many years now and he’s been married to the other woman many years now and he is still infuriated that I refuse to play the game and be friends. I raised our children and they are now adults. I didn’t restrict them in visitation in any way. He also didn’t enforce his visitation. To this day they refuse to meet the other woman turned wife and you know what, I couldn’t care less. I’ve had many comments over the years that they should have been forced to interact with her. They didn’t want to and they weren’t forced by either side so it remains this way and always will. The RIC people will always say children are resilient and can navigate these situations well but the truth is a child never really forgives or forgets their home live was blown to pieces. My ex husband has no family living so I didn’t have to deal with any of those issues.

  • Dear Mashal,

    I wish I could give you a hug of support! I am also South Asian so I’d like to think I understand the social context you’re having to deal with. Chump lady is absolutely right. You are under no obligation, socially, legally, or religiously, to put work into your son’s relationship with his father’s family. You were officially fired from that role. You need to focus on building your own life and your own relationship with your son. Do watch out for daddy and his family polluting your son’s mind against you…. sorry, I guess skepticism is a normal side effect of being a chump.

    I wish you the best!

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