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.
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.