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When the Cheater Is in the Family

Dear Chump Lady,

Thank you so much for this site. I’m a chump myself, now in a much better place having gotten to Tuesday and meh. It does happen!

Unfortunately, my stepson has turned out to be a FW and I don’t know what to do. Stepson and I aren’t close as his Dad and I got together when he was going off to college. While there he met and married his professed life partner. Dad and I never got to know Wife very well and they soon moved across the country. Wife, who has always had concrete goals and clear life plans, has been the primary breadwinner while stepson pursued part time work and graduate school. He’s about a year away from a highly lucrative profession. Of course they have a child.

Stepson had alluded to some tension but deflected any discussion of personal issues, mostly referring to the stress of “work, school, homeownership, parenting…” Well, it turns out (per him) that a couple of years ago stepson became less enamored with Wife’s dominance (mind you, he chose her for this trait) and instead of being honest began an emotional affair with a colleague. Probably more, but that’s what he admits. Wife stumbles across evidence, he confesses and flees. They are now in the beginning of legal proceedings. While stepson is verbally contrite (he promises to be a better man!), he’s sure that he’s going to be able to be with OW, coparent 50/50, yada yada. Cake!

I sent Wife your website, but beyond that I am at a loss with how to stay supportive without causing more difficulty (D-day is still pretty recent). Dad is beyond disappointed, but doesn’t want to cut off his son. And Dad and I both are trying to figure out how to not lose our already-limited contact with the grandchild over time. Extended family doesn’t know yet why they’ve split up — stepson isn’t close with them (see a pattern here?), but he’s “okay with” Dad and I telling people what he chose. Can’t say I’m thrilled to be his messenger; shouldn’t this “better man” actively own up to his story? And (assuming this happens) how do I manage any events including OW?

Not sure what I’m looking for here exactly — guess I’m wondering how others have navigated being the family of the cheater?

Feeling Betrayed Too

****

Dear Feeling Betrayed Too,

You don’t get to choose your family. And, as he’s an adult, this clusterfuck is all his. Don’t be the messenger. What does that even look like? A mass mailing? Engraved “Our Son is a Fuckwit” announcements?

Extended family he’s not in touch with probably don’t care why he broke up, so don’t borrow trouble. If anyone close to you asks, you can decide how much you want to share. “We’re very sad and disappointed.” And if you want to be blunt, you could add, “He left Wife for another woman.” It’s a factual statement minus the editorializing.

Dad is beyond disappointed, but doesn’t want to cut off his son.

Of course not. This is his child.

People have asked me what I would do if my son were a cheater, as if I’d make some special exception to all my usual vitriol. My answer is — let him experience the full weight of consequences.

Son made a decision, son has to live with that decision. He’s an adult.

The sane parent doesn’t not clean up the mess, spackle, or enable — as hard as it is, a sane parent lets the natural consequences happen. And hope the kid learns from them. Obviously, this is incredibly difficult because we never want to see our children suffer.

But he’s not suffering. He’s skipping after new pussy! 

The consequences will kick in at some point. He’s divorcing with a small child. He just traded Ms. Competent for Ms. Schtups a Married Guy. He traded someone who put him through graduate school — a giver — for a user. Two users together? Not the foundation of happiness.

Maybe the Schmoopies go splat, or maybe you have to spend Thanksgiving with them in perpetuity. And that’s the real shit sandwich, isn’t it? To see your grandchild, you have to hold your nose and deal with them.

Family time often involves some form of nose holding. The drunk uncle and his Qanon conspiracy theories. The insufferable cousin’s golf obsession. A sister’s free-range parenting style. You get to decide how much family you want in your life and if it’s worth the price of admission.

I am at a loss with how to stay supportive without causing more difficulty (D-day is still pretty recent)

I think you stay supportive of Wife by being supportive. This isn’t your fault. We’re so upset with Son. You’re still family.

Just because Son has been distant, doesn’t mean Wife wants distance. She might really appreciate a set of involved grandparents. Send cards and gifts to the grandchild at her address. Keep that door open. Invite her and your grandchild to visits. I hope CN will weigh in with stories of any exceptional in-laws who were kind to them in the divorce. (Sadly, it’s usually the opposite.)

As a former chump, you understand what she’s going through. And that’s a gift. You sent her this site, and I hope she finds comfort here.

Someday she’ll find herself where you are — in a much better place having gotten to Tuesday and meh. It does happen.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • i wish i could say my in-laws are decent folks but they’re not. although they stated “we’re family, and always will be. you’re welcome here, always,” that never happened. that said, i do not miss my in-laws–their behaviours are similar to my X’s (contempt + lack of boundaries + lack of intimacy). also, active alcoholism runs throughout my X’s entire nuclear family. it’s a lot.

    that said, my adult kids have to figure it out and, so far, are avoiding their aunt and uncle and cousins.

  • Dear family of chump, I am the chump but my mother in law has been great. She actively says she disapproves of what he has done and refuses to see schmoopie. She has come to visit me and my daughter lots and likewise we’ve been to her and spent 10 days over the summer with her. My daughter sees more of her nanny now than before. I don’t have to worry about him or her being there and I’m fully supported. I’m lucky my exs family has cut him off as a consequence of not just the cheating but the abuse, how he’s acted and how volatile he’s been with everyone when they would not be flying monkeys. Offer your daughter in law any support you can, baby sitting etc and send gifts and keep the dialogue open. I’ve never asked my mother in law to chose but I know she has mine and my daughters back for anything. It also helps to say how upset you are by his actions and that you don’t agree with them. As for family finding out- he can deal with the consequences himself but if anyone asks tell them straight. My mother in law still calls me daughter in law as she says he can’t take away my family role and his brother has been recommending books on narcissism; I recognise I’m very lucky but it can be done.

    • This is what I have tried to do for my daughter in law. I definitely do not approve of my son’s choices. He and OW have tried to make it out, there was no affair before divorce,. Eye roll. She is a wonderful human being, I’m happy to know. Also a great mom. I’m so happy to hear, my gifts, support (financial in the beginning) and love helps her. My only regret is I can’t babysit, as they are states away. Now son has a baby with new wifetress and I have to hold my nose till it bleeds. I dread the holidays. On the petty side, I never fail to mention how great his ex is, in front of both of them.

    • This is my relationship with my (now ex) daughter-in-law. She is the only one in the core family group who stood up immediately and said FW was in the wrong. She supported me and says that I do not need to explain my pain because she is already on my side. I never have to worry that FW and/or schmoopie will drop by her house or be at her backyard bbq party because she is disgusted by them. She is the only one I feel safe with. And she makes it a point to preserve my relationship with her children. I lost my other grandchildren in this family explosion of the affair and divorce.

      My son was abusing her (ramped up to even physical abuse at the end). We serve as an anchor for each other, I think. Just in the ability to honestly say, “No, you were abused. That is not acceptable. You did all that you could.”

      It is incredibly heartbreaking to have to admit that my own beautiful baby boy held her by the throat up against the bathroom door, with his teenage daughter screaming at him to let go because her mom was turning blue. But, it happened. We serve as witness to each other. It happened. There is no turning back the clock.

      I’m not sure what you do with that. Life has completely turned upside down for me. But, I am ever grateful my son somehow made one good choice in his life and it was to bring her to me to be my family.

      • Tallgrass, Your words brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry. Your story reminds me of Ruth and Naomi, another inspiring mother-/daughter-in-law duo.

      • I’ve never heard of a book or film telling that particular story. I sense it happens as it did in your case and something feels classic and incredibly important about it. Though your other losses are unspeakable, I’m so glad you found this gem in the landslide and that she found you.

  • I am the chumped wife whose former in laws have been exceptional to me.

    They were there with me through the whole crap storm that their FW son put me through. What has helped me is that they tell me they still love me as a daughter and our son (their grandchild). They give us our space but definitely reach out often enough so it doesn’t feel distant and I also do keep in touch with them sending pictures of my little guy and filling them in on his life.

    They even opened up their home to me and my little guy to stay the weekend and we had a blast or have treated us to lunch/dinner. When I told my former MIL what he did upon discovery – she was crying and apologizing to me on the phone for what her son did to us and how it’s her fault (I didn’t place blame on her – he’s a grown man who made his own choices).

    My former FIL also expressed to me his apologies, embarrassment, and upset for what their son did to us and told me they told him that “she (me) has every right to not want you in her life.” They are conscientious to not mention him around me but the earlier example came out in natural conversation – and they always asked me beforehand out of respect for my boundaries (I’m on my land to meh so it didn’t bother me to hear his name as much – like a strangers name.)

  • No lovely story of great in-laws here. They turned on me right away and created a false narrative to make me look like the bad guy — apparently “I threw out FW and thank goodness his kind coworker took him in… then they fell in love.” (pardon me while I puke).

    They also are big church-goers who label themselves as great Christians. They immediately blamed me (I’m Jewish) for not forcing their son to go to church… so clearly this was all my fault.

    My point is… if Feeling Betrayed Too can be kind to the chumped ex wife, that would be really great. I would have been thrilled to have that from the shit in-laws I had. On the other hand, I’m glad those lying flying monkeys are out of my life. So there’s that 😂

    • I am sorry that you in-laws did this to you. I am always perplexed on how the religious think attendance to services would help people not to do transgressions. There is a quote. If the threat of eternal punishment/reward is the only thing that is keeping you from doing bad things, you are in fact a piece of fecal matter.(Cleaned up of course). The variations on this quote is many, you can add psychopath on a leash etc ad nauseum.

    • I think my former MIL had objections to the fact that I didn’t immediately join her yoga/meditation/Hindu sect and that her son quit the practice soon after marrying me. His quitting had nothing to do with me but because the particular sect had been exposed for abuse of children.

      I find it especially ironic when a religious family fracas like this happens in the context of Westerners who follow Eastern spirituality because many of those types thought they were engaging in groovy rebellion against strict, more standard religious upbringings. Then they just impinge the same rigidity they thought they were escaping. D’Oh.

      You might enjoy the book “When Atheism Becomes Religion” by journalist Chris Hedges because the author does an epic job of distinguishing what constitutes a cult or cult-like thinking vs. the basic practice of faith. Realizing that FW had been raised in a cult-supporting environment made sense of a lot of things that otherwise didn’t. According to Hedges, the two main components of a cult are a) the promise that paradise can be created on earth by b) following a supposedly morally transcendent caste of leaders who can be exempt from scrutiny or judgment. Human history is littered with illustrations of the fact that cults invariably end up trying to create this “paradise” by getting rid of all nonbelievers. Hedges quotes political and scientific philosopher Karl Raimund Popper: “Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell.”

      Hedges is just arguing in the book that the same beliefs exist in some existential cults like fascism and certain branches of “organized rationalism/atheism” which has become a front group for the arms industry and big biotech. He’s not panning atheism itself and includes a list of eminent and constructive nonbelievers. The point of the book is really to question this impossible “Ubermensch” concept of moral transcendence/moral exemption and the lie of promising a world without pain, suffering or disease (if only all the nonbelievers can be gotten rid of).

      To quote Margaret Atwood, “An idea is not responsible for the people who believe in it.” It’s not the fault of any particular faith or the fault of atheism that some aspiring leaders have tried to turn these belief systems/philosophies into cults in order to endow themselves with godlike status. Anyway, I can see how FW was raised to think he belonged to the transcendent caste who was exempt from social norms. That message endured beyond any particular practice of faith. He was raised to think he sparkled and was destined for sparkly things no matter what he did.

  • Writer should just stay out of it except for helping DIL get through this. After wife appliance supporting him, I figure if affair fizzles, he will crawl back to poor wife. To manage his lucrative career because he sounds like he cannot finish thing successfully. Anyway, enjoy your life far away and don’t get involved.

    • MIL died a year before FW did…which was all like 6 weeks after D day. FIL has turned into a self serving monster who I’ve cut ties with because he’s TOXIC! I always felt he was an ass, but his behavior has confirmed it. One of his other son’s is now cheating on his wife…guess it’s genetic. Anyhoo, not my circus anymore, not my monkeys! I feel sorry for my adult son and dtr in law who still have to play nice with these wet wipes..

  • A red flag I missed was FW’s family’s forgiveness of cheating behavior. Sort of the “heart wants what the heart wants” and “it’s their private business”. As I look back at several examples of this, I realize FW was confident his behavior wouldn’t result in estrangement from his family. Which means it resulted in my needing to step away after 30 years.

    I think we learn a lot when we and others respond to the news.

    • I wonder if that applies to APs as well. These are people who were obviously raised to accept abuse and abusers since, if they’re aware their partners are hitched, they knew from the start their paramours were abusers. That’s an early warning chumps often don’t get.

      Anyway, some curious facts about the AP’s background came out after D-Day. The only thing that was interesting about RIC was the “full disclosure” part of it where (oh, the effort) FW reflected on various things, one of which was the fact that the AP had been raised to be close and respectful to a grandfather who had apparently battered his wife and abused his kids. I think it’s a no-brainer that grandpa was also a cheat since most batterers are. FW quoted the AP’s rationalization that well, he’d been nice when he got older. “Nice” being relative apparently since the AP’s father was a drunken cheater who drove his youngest son to suicidality. But the AP still sucked up to daddy.

      I had such a different upbringing. My father had come from an incredibly dysfunctional, alcoholic family whom he cut off completely. As I mentioned in another comment, he also didn’t drink, wasn’t a batterer, cheater, etc. Cutting ties was obviously a very important part of changing family patterns. He said he didn’t even want these people in a room with his children. Not because he thought they’d abuse us (all too old by then) but in case the mere exposure to creatures like this led us to think that’s what family was supposed to be. I guess he didn’t want us acclimatized to the “smell” or “vibe” of that type of character.

      • I agree that APs would tend to have FOO issues involving abuse, since they are attracted to abusers and enjoy participating in abuse.

        My FW’s schmoopie had been a victim of emotional (and possibly physical) incest by her father, for which she blamed her mother for supposedly not meeting her father’s needs. IMO her cheating with married men was misplaced revenge against women for the way her mother failed to protect her.
        She had so little self awareness that she whined that her mother was a narcissist. I have no doubt she would come out ahead of her mother in the Narcissism Olympics.
        Fuckwit had been a victim of emotional incest as well, which was part of their sick bond. Gross. I’m so glad I’m not like them. My upbringing also had challenges, but I’ve faced and dealt with them instead of seeking revenge on innocent people. How you manage the hand you were dealt in life is a choice and it’s actually not difficult to do it honorably. FWs just don’t want to.

        • Wow, did our FWs have the same side piece? What a thought.

          Yes, emotional incest at the very least. You’re story made an image flash in my mind that people who internalize emotional incest (to the point of becoming abusive themselves) have a slimy retractable tentacle hidden somewhere on their bodies that emerges like a third sex organ when they recognize– by smell and slime pheromones or whatever– a fellow internalized former victim-cum-abuser and together they entwine their slime-wands. The relationships are just that. No other common bonds or mutual interests needed but it’s kind of hard to use “twu wuv” as an alibi under those circumstances so they mirror each other to prop up the appearance of deeper bonds.

          According to two coworkers, the AP was rather “lumpish,” sharked-eyed, flat-voiced and perpetually bored and bossy around peers but would transform herself into a bouncy toddler whenever anyone with status, particularly men, would pass by her desk. Where does someone learn to do that other than on creepy daddy’s knee? Out of one side of her mouth she could reportedly admit her father’s coldness had driven her brother to take antidepressants. And out of the other she’d glow about daddy paying her condo fees and getting her a car. In therapy FW admitted that she’d take the widdle-girl act too far on occasions, particularly when drunk, and even he would cringe which says a lot. I figured he liked the “barely legal” ersatz girly act like he was secretly watching on Pornhub but sometimes the AP would overshoot and age-regress to about five. She’d been with at least two other married men and apparently was a pest to several younger guys in the office who had girlfriends. She made a name for herself.

          Maybe their slime tentacles weren’t quite perfectly matched but FW and the AP both had tentacles. FW’s sister would sometimes express a gamesy sexualized possessiveness towards her brother (ew) and his mother was covertly emotionally incestuous. His mother, who physically resembles the AP in some very noticeable ways (both have short limbs and neck, eyes that only show the pupils and certain facial flaws (mom with a very large mole protruding over her eyebrow and the AP with deep acne scars). Otherwise ex-MIL seems kind of nun-like and asexual. But sometimes she’d put on an “excited” emotional display that had something regressive and “dance for daddy” about it. She would gasp in a girlish voice and flail her hands about. It was in stark contrast to her narcy attack side. I figured it was a generational thing and that somewhere in the core of that family was a pocket of rape. The way FW’s mother “incested” was mostly by campaigning against everyone he’d ever dated and I was no different. FW used to joke she’d prefer he be gay as long as he never brought another woman onto her turf. She was well known for it– couldn’t even stand to hear his friends from childhood say nice things about their girlfriends or wives.

          One big clue about that family history happened when we were visiting FW’s maternal uncle’s widow and some niece and her husband brought a new baby. They’re all European and speak a language I’m not particularly fluent in, but FW’s mom began rocking the baby and singing a “lullaby” that I recognized from the time I had a Euro boyfriend. It’s a cute medieval ditty about a gang bang. None of the blood relatives blinked and the niece/mother of the baby sat placidly by but the niece’s husband was looking around the room with a shocked expression and locked eyes with me, like “WTF??”

          Exactly. She’d tried singing that song for my kids when they were infants and I’d had to stop her. I think I spent most of my time around FW’s family with eyes as wide as saucers and biting my tongue. They probably sensed I didn’t have “the tentacle.” The kids and I rarely saw the in-laws but zero contact is so much better.

          • A lullaby about gangbang? What in the everloving fuck? 😲 Holy shit, his family sounds as crazy as my FW’s brood of born again religious weirdos.
            My FW’s AP also resembled his mother and likes to play helpless so that men will take care of her. It’s all bullshit and she’s an experienced manipulator of idiotic men. FW fell for it, but even he had to admit he had at times suspected she was a narcissist. It does sound like we married the same shithead. They knew the bitch was cray, but they liked it that way because it suited their creepy porn fantasies. FW was secretly into drunken, cheap, promiscuous women and the ho was tailor made for that. I was the polar opposite of his gross fantasies so I had to go.

            Tentacles is a good way of putting it. It’s subconcious, but they do recognize and are drawn to a fellow traveller.

            • Fellow travellers, guffaw. Marxists are now picketing your porch in protest. 😉

              I’ve noticed that some cheaters– like batterers– seem to switch back and forth between familiar, toxic targets and then partners who represent a departure from what they grew up with. When the toxic fumes build too high with one, they jump to the other. Then all that earnestness gets enraging and they jump back to the familiar. Rinse, repeat.

              FW’s mother was raised to be a latter day courtesan in order to land a rich or famous husband. She raised her daughter the same. Neither particularly succeeded. It’s just upscale, cultured sex work on long term contracts. I think a lot of rage brews beneath that kind of self-subjugation. I recognized the same kind of deformity, rage and desperation in the AP as well though minus the upscale, cultured bit.

              FW’s mom’s feminine icons were pretty predictable–Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. Even FW thought it was weird that his mother kept trying to “sell” the type to him, though in the end the training took root. To me those are the saddest women ever. Jackie getting emotionally incested by a philandering father, thrown in an asylum because she confronted her cheating husband, navigating Jack’s rapey relatives, etc. Marilyn climbing in cars on Sunset Blvd as a teen, beaten up by DiMaggio, used by Miller, druģged to the teeth and dying young. Both had talents and insights that no one really cared about. But hey, their shoes matched their handbags.

              So even when ex-MIL deigned to admire any woman, her admiration was dehumanizing. It’s dehumanizing to see only the shell and not the whole person even if the person doesn’t want to be seen as a whole. My ex-MIL hated being really seen and attacked vulnerability in others. She wanted a life of shells, fantasy, images. If she hadn’t been so vicious I would have found her tragic.

          • “A bouncy toddler” perfectly describes how AP acted around FW. It was weird (and exhausting for me, a rather low-key person). AP had toddler-like temper tantrums as well – stomping feet, clapping hands, running away, screaming, etc. No sense of regulation at all.

  • Inlaws can be decent. My father-in-law has been extremely gracious and supportive, continuing to help with my kids and we’ll be going for a FW-free trip to see him next month. He’s also sad and disappointed in FW. We won’t talk of him but focus on how he at least brought us together.

  • While I’ve found that relationship a challenge to navigate, (how much time do I give these people who genuinely seem to miss me when I have a lot on my plate?) I’m extremely fortunate that my former in-laws have been helpful with babysitting, generous with gifts and always welcoming to me. They love seeing my son. X only contacts them when he needs something, but they always do it.
    Good luck with this mess. Love and healing to all 💕

  • My in-laws were supportive for about 10 minutes and then, when acquaintances started approaching them to ask about their son’s affair (he blew things up very publicly), they became super embarrassed and turned on me. Suddenly, it was all my fault. We haven’t spoken in six years. I hope the letter writer continues to reach out to the wife, reassures her that she did nothing wrong, and offers support.

    On a related note – how much better is ChumpLady’s advice vs Carolyn Hax in this situation? Ugh! This drove me crazy:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/advice/2022/09/04/carolyn-hax-son-affair-divorce-parents/
    Choice quotes:
    “You don’t actually know what happened between your son and his wife, because no outsider ever truly sees inside a marriage. ”
    “His new love didn’t take the vows, break the vows or end the marriage, he did — so shunning only her is misplaced. ”
    She brought out every possible affair-excusing trope. Barf.

    • I saw that column and had a really bad day because of it, again realizing that no matter what, there are people who will never even try to understand the trauma and pain of infidelity.

      • I’m no fan of Hax, but I’d hardly consider being a single
        mother a sketchy choice. As long as she is not proclaiming to be devoutly religious in a faith which frowns on out of wedlock births, who cares? To have kids first and marry later might even be a good strategy. Seeing how the other person parents can tell you a lot about his/her character.

        • She isn’t a single mother and I wouldn’t care if she were. The point is that she got pregnant prior to divorcing her husband.

    • Hax is well named but she should change her first name to “Shill.” I won’t even wade into that sewer of a column at this point.

    • I read Hax in Sunday’s paper and wondered if we would get comments on CL on this. True the AP did not take the vows but anyone who even seeks to have a relationship with a married person is a POS in my opinion.

  • Tangential but maybe important: The step-ness can add significant complications in any scenario, this one included.

    When I became a step-grandma, there was no “step” in my heart. I was all in. My brother (a stepfather with no “step” in his heart) gave me some advice that I found devastating — and it also turned out to be devastatingly accurate for me.

    He said that no matter how much you love a child, or how much the child loves you, the adults who see you as a step will always see YOU that way. They will see your relationship with the child as transactional, without even meaning to — that small realization that you aren’t truly the parent or grandparent will always linger, however unspoken or unadmitted, and when the chips are down, that will come up.

    Now I’m sure this won’t be true for everyone (no need to sling vitriol, as a few people on here sometimes do), but some will find it rings true for them. I expect many people to chime in with fervent disagreement, because no one person’s experience speaks for everyone’s experience, and so many people jump to seeing only through their own experiential lenses.

    Some of these chimers will be correct in their case, and others will be incorrect but stubbornly unable to admit or see it. (The more vigorously you defend your certainty that I am wrong about you, the stronger my guess that I’ve ‘hit a nerve for a reason’ will feel.)

    The thing that hit MY nerve was the part about this grandma wanting, along with grandpa, to stay in touch with the child, knowing the stepson is actually the primary bridge between the islands. The child is desirable, so the kibble-feasting narcissist cheater stepson has power and a strong human game piece of leverage, and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t know it.

    I was angry at first when my beloved brother gave me that advice, but I knew him, and myself, well enough to be aware that he is deeply loving and honest and that my anger grew out of defensiveness and fear. I’m glad I didn’t lash out, because that advice helped me deflect a lot of pain later when I was no longer useful as a grandma appliance and my beautiful grandson became a human game piece. I navigate that as best I can to ensure my grandson knows my love is consistent no matter how often he sees me. I can only hope it is enough to ease the feelings of abandonment he must have experienced when I was suddenly less present in his daily life because his parents had the hang of parenting and stopped needing help.

    • Part of my healing has been to change my inner talk to be similar to this idea. I think you are exactly on point. In my case, I gave birth to those two adult children, but it has become easier for me to see my role was always as the wife appliance/outsider, useful for schlupping kids to soccer games, cooking, cleaning and servicing their dad’s perverted sex ideas. I now see myself as a step-mom and it eases a bit of pain actually. If I had married their dad while they were teenagers instead of being their mother, and now he decided he wanted a new wife, where would they place me in the family?

      They wouldn’t. Horribly awkward for everyone. Dad has a new wife, they support her. They need to put away all the family photos and family memories that included me and refresh with the new picture. That is exactly what happened in my situation. My adult son even said, “He’s happy now. Why can’t you just be happy for him?” – while I was screaming in fetal position. I was never their mother. I was their dad’s unpaid house staff.

      It’s painful. But, I get comfort from reframing it – using language to name it. I think that’s why I love CL! Language is important. It helps me to process and heal.

      • Tallgrass, this breaks my heart. Even though I was a stepmom, I always knew their biological mother held a place in their hearts. Give it time. Give them their space – graciously. Hopefully they will be able to sort out their feelings and give you the respect you deserve.

        • I appreciate the support. It’s been two years. About six months ago, with a counselor standing to support me, I made the decision that I can no longer hope and pine for this. I cannot survive if I keep looking behind me wishing for a better outcome. I had to accept the fact that, if they ever do come to their senses, this is something they will have to go to their own counselors to sort out.

          It seems so crude, but this is the only phrase I can share to help someone understand…..”when someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I cannot risk my mental/soul survival on them again. I very nearly didn’t survive the first round where they blatantly over and over showed me exactly what my value is to them and their life. Believe me, I tried absolutely everything so that this would not be true. But, it was true.

          It’s very, very sad. Better to put it in a box and try not to look inside. CN is a safe place for me to open it sometimes. Thank you. I appreciate all of you.

      • TG – I’m not sure where you are in your healing, but allow me to be angry on your behalf. “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child”

      • So insightful, Tallgrass, and searingly painful to hear. You are incredibly strong. I love words, too, and I sympathize and send lots of support.

  • I only have an MIL.

    Her reaction to her son’s affair happened in 3 stages:

    Stage 1: Initial shock and disappointment. “What has my son done?”

    Stage 2: Immediately followed by, “You should get past this and take him back.” When I pointed out to her that he wanted to marry the OW, she looked confused and couldn’t seem to process that information.

    Stage 3: A week or two after stage 1, MIL met with the OW and LIKED her.

    Stage 4: Current state of affairs (so to speak)–MIL sends out photos of herself with her son and wifetress (not to me but to other family members). To me she sends religious psalms and the like about forgiveness. I don’t respond.

    Honestly, I think I’m hurt that she’s never once said to me, “Hey, I really miss you. Totally sucks what my son did.”
    She’s moved on. She’s accepted (nay, embraced) a new DIL appliance so easily. And she’s never expressed any regret that I’m no longer around…ever. I’ve known her for over 35 years.

    I should add her that we never did have a great relationship, just a cordial one.

    IMO, if Feeling Betrayed can stay in her son’s wife’s life, not demand forgiveness, and not embrace the OW, I think that will help, even if she maintains a relationship with her son.

    • My always-difficult-to-get-along with MIL of 40 years went into a dementia ward shortly after D-Day. I do, somedays, get a chuckle out of thinking that everytime FW and schmoopie (who is an LPN and sees herself as so my more caring than I was, etc.) – everytime my ex MIL sees them, I hope they have to remind her what happened to me and who is this?

      I know it’s a fantasy. But, I deserve that much. This woman was always whacko and hard to deal with. I spent many hours coddling her and trying to make her happy when everyone else would leave the room, FW included. I hope her brain stuck in that loop and they have to deal with it every single time.

    • Good on you for ignoring her attempts to needle you with forgiveness trolling, Spinach. You must be tempted to tell her to just fuck off.

  • With the exception of his youngest sister, my ex in-laws had no idea cheating bastard ex and I were divorced until his mother died 9 months after the fact. Apparently, he did not feel it important to let his siblings know his spouse of 36 plus years was no longer his spouse.
    Knowing my daughters would be attending their grandmother’s funeral and realizing I needed to be the adult in the room so they wouldn’t have to field uncomfortable questions or suffer an awkward situation, I sent flowers to the sister who would be hosting them.
    She responded by sending a lovely text which included her sincere gratitude for my acts of kindness extended to her parents and the other members of her family over the years. It included an open invitation to visit any time I would like. Two of the other siblings followed suit with similar messages and my daughters were treated with loving respect during their visit.
    I will never have cause or reason to see any of them again, but my disdain for the actions of my ex does not extend to them. They were good and decent people who treated me kindly.

    I have had to navigate a sexting situation with my brother who suffers with alzheimers. It wasn’t easy to hear the hurt and despair in my sister-in-law’s voice when she called asking for help. I was triggered and had to figure out a way to separate my experience from hers, knowing that my brother’s advanced stages of dementia was the cause of his actions and nothing he would have ever considered doing when his mind was whole and healthy. Still, it was a tough thing to experience so soon after dealing with what the ex put me through.

  • The parent child relationship remains in tact for even this sin. Don’t get between it.

    Full consequences. Tell son once or twice your views on his choice. I’d tell him that cheating is abuse, physical, mental and emotional. And that most likely this new relationship will not work out. That way you get an ‘I told you so’ third comment in a few years.

    Don’t go on and on talking about it. It makes you look crazy and it lessens the weight of your words.

    Support the wife. But let her come to you too. At some point, she may want the grace of Tuesday, and this behind her.

  • Both my sisters have cheated more then once. One sister was kicked out of her house for cheating and wanted to move in with one of us. “Nope” was the answer from my mom and I. So she went and got help for her alcoholism and cheating. They reconciled and just celebrated their 19 wedding anniversary. My other sister has cheated in two marriages, she would bring the AP over to her second husband’s and hers house WHILE that husband and the kids were there. She is a special kind of narcissist. I have limited contact with her and my mother only does because of the grandkids. They are family but I keep them at arms length. I can’t stand cheaters!

  • My in-laws were good for first few years. Now we drifted apart cuz they have significant illness to deal with but they occasionally connect with my adult sons. Have to say I have also stopped checking in with them. It just feels past tense. I’m happy with that!

    • “It just feels past tense. I’m happy with that!”

      Yeah. I feel this way, too.

      For instance, any contact with my x-SIL, who has been nothing but nice to me, is a bit triggering. Being with her obviously brings up memories and discussions that I don’t want to have. Making a clean break seems easier.

      Yet another unfortunate consequence of the FW’s entitled behavior.

  • My in-laws have been exceptional! FW’s mum has been my rock. On a particularly bad day 2 weeks after D-day after FW had screamed at me for upsetting ‘ sensitive pregnant AP’ mind u I was 6 months pp myself, I called his mum crying, told her everything. She called Ap told her off to the depths of he’ll, AP’s mum called back to try smear me and she sent her to hades as well. Called FW and told him off too. Her stance has never wavered 2 years on. FWtoookk every penny we had in savings and his aunt took me I. when I moved out , has Contin supporting me even when I discovered I was pregnant after moving out. As of two weeks ago she sent FW 500k of her own money in my currency that FW had been demanding from an investment we did together. Told me to keep that portfolios. FW’s dad has gone with the entire family to apologise to my parents and the family will be there on Thursday as I give birth minus FW. AP is currently mad no one on FW side has engaged with her or her baby. Paternity has never been established and FW refuses to despite AP sleeping with his cousin as well. So mine have been incredible for ne and a source of strength.

  • Yeah, blood stayed thicker than water in my situation. FW’s parent are gone, but his 3 siblings kept him on the pedestal he’s always stood on in their family, knowing full well he’s a cheater who destroyed his family, the great and powerful Oz of a cheater.
    “ He just wants to be happy”, says his equally narcissistic sister, who disinvited me to her son’s wedding shortly after D-day. Then his older sister just didn’t even invite me to her daughter’s wedding shortly thereafter.
    His brother has sent Christmas cards, but I’m honestly okay with being done with the lot of them.
    I do feel some sadness that my kids have also seemed to lose the connection with that family( I’m the one that maintained it, so really no surprise there).
    Well, my own family ( 5 siblings) is super loving and supportive to us, so I’m most grateful that we all have that.
    I guess we just let ppl blow up their lives if that’s what they so choose, but we don’t have to be forced to accept it or support it.
    I would try and maintain some communication with your stepson, but draw a line in bonding or meeting with his Schmoopie of the week. You’re entitled to your own reaction to all this fuckwittery.
    I think it’s great you sent the betrayed wife info on CL, and are trying to maintain support to her. That might not go well, but at least you aren’t siding with the loser step son, further invalidating her reality and causing her more harm.
    I doubt I would have wanted a relationship with my ex in-laws after what went down even if they remained friendly, it’s honestly too painful and triggering.
    But I do resent that they so easily sided with the cheater.
    I’m sure he created a great narrative to allay any guilt in them for doing so, but they’ve known me for over 40 years and I’ve never been anything but loving and kind to them,so they did me a completely unwarranted injustice I’m not willing to forgive or forget.
    The destruction and damage these wandering dicks and pussies cause is so far reaching. And the way they see it is “ I didn’t cause all that, why can’t everyone just except and move on with my new defined reality?!” They think our reactions are the problem, not the flagrant painful harm they caused. ( DARVO bento box anyone?!)
    I just want to dump my wife, destroy my children and family, replace wife on a selfish random whim with a ‘younger and better’ model and have everyone be perfectly okay with this and all get along famously once again. Any takers?!?
    It’s deep delusion on crack!
    Just eat my shit sandwiches for the rest of your lives and all will be well and good. ( for me alone, the only one that matters after all of course)
    It gives you a glimpse at the level of unconsciousness and dysfunction they exist in on the daily when they believe that’s really a viable option in any known universe.

  • I would add one thing: if you can, make sure your DiL has enough money to get a good attorney. That’s one hurdle so many chumps have–how to pay for a good lawyer to get a good settlement. In this case, the daughter-in-law would be smart to slow-walk the situation. Stay separated for a year. Get a favorable temporary custody order while Cheater is still in Schmoopie mode. Then, once the lucrative career is realized, then get max child support and the bulk of the property because he got a graduate degree.

  • My wonderful (now ex) in-laws are so supportive and grieved with me during my divorce. Characterless Babyman was so angry with them for that. Now he’s living across the country and his parents and I are great friends. We have birthday dinners together, including my new boyfriend. We help each other with things around our homes and pop by with things from our garden. I felt a connection with CB’s family immediately upon meeting them and I’m so grateful I got to keep that. A little less shit sandwich for me.

  • When our uncle left our aunt for his OW (he’d also been physically abusive to our aunt as well) we kept her as our relative and severed ties with him.

    I’m glad that some in laws do have empathy and compassion, but most of them simply prefer the security blanket of willful ignorance and will just spackle over any uncomfortable truths . FW’s family had kissed up to their older son’s affair partner/wifetress but were quick to badmouth her several years later when she cheated on their son and dumped him for her new fuck buddy. Observing that behavior went a long way in preventing me from being blindsided when, as soon as FW’s own cheating/abuse was exposed, they declared that it was none of their business and had little to say to me after knowing each other for 24 years. FW’s mother passed away earlier this year and apparently FW didn’t even bother to visit her before she died. When parents behave as though their children can do no wrong, they end up with children who feel entitled to mistreat everyone around them.

  • Straight-up telling her that this is NOT her fault, you are so sad that your stepson did this, asking then sincerely offering help that she needs and keeping in contact to offer support isn’t likely to go amiss. You don’t want to be all up in her divorce but making it clear you support her for drawing boundaries and consequences for her own sake, as well as for setting a good example for their child, as a fellow Chump may be appreciated. She may want practical help (contribute to grandchild’s 529 plan; there are a few needed items at _____; send a Visa gift card to help offset the attorney cost) or just a friendly voice reminding her that Meh exists as you have found it.

    Send her a copy of the book too. Or send her YOUR copy if you still have it. Those notes in the margin may be invaluable to her.

    I wouldn’t expect Stepson to be making any particular efforts to keep in contact with you (unless it’s to ask for money – decline) or to build bonds with his child, so it’s important to build then maintain a relationship with her. She’s the Sane Parent. Demonstrate that you are the Sane Grandparents.

  • My MIL says she’s Switzerland, and I guess that’s the best I can hope for really. But if you want to be supportive to your daughter-in-law then following CL’s advice above is a good way to go.

    I wish my MIL were interested in seeing my kids when her son is out of the country (75% of the time). I wish she asked me what they want for their birthdays. I wish she communicated with them or reached out to them outside of her son’s time.

    I wish she had agreed with me that what her son did totally sucked.

    I wish she offered to buy them clothes or pay for half of the music lessons her son refuses to chip in for.

  • I still refer to my technically-ex-in-laws as my in-laws because they are amazing and have continued to be supportive of me. His parents even offered to pay for my legal expenses. They are civil to ex-FW, but they have made their disappointment in him known. They don’t go out of their way to make his life easier juggling working FT and handling two kids because if you can pencil in an affair into your busy schedule, surely you can figure out how to handle what all the other functional parents do. OW has so far been a non-issue as their relationship is really only functional as an affair, not as a primary, and honestly she is an embarrassment to him. He has tried to deny her existence.

    Ultimately, I am a personable person. The affair and divorce has really driven that home. I don’t have a relationship with my in-laws because I was married to their son. That’s only how I met them. I have spent a lot of time nurturing a bond with them and vice versa. I have helped them out through health crises. Exchange articles or book recommendations and then discuss. We continue to do that stuff. It’s funny because FW would go on and on about how the divorce wouldn’t have to change how our extended family relationships. I could still hang out with them for the holidays and do joint birthday parties (with OW there!) and appear to be a united co-parenting team. Well it actually drives him fucking crazy how much his family loves me and wants to include me in all the things he was promising I could be included in.

  • My sister-in-law just kept repeating “I’m sorry for you” “I’m sorry for you”. At the time, I thought it was a clumsy way of saying she didn’t feel badly for/supportive of FW. But his family never said what he did was wrong or that they wouldn’t accept the OW. After 30 years, I would get a Christmas or birthday card. I’m no contact now.

  • Be supportive and kind to the wife! From my in laws I got: that is just what men do, she must do things in bed that you don’t do, you should wear more makeup. I’m no contact and it’s wonderful.

  • The first thing my MIL said to me when I told her (he was too much of a coward to tell her) she said to me; “you would have been better off if he had died”. Now I knew she really didn’t want him to die, but I also knew that she understood my pain, and that it was a horrible thing for him to do to me. She and I had been close, and in fact lived across the alley from each other, she had a key to my house (vice versa) and she knew me as well as she knew her own daughter, maybe even moreso. She knew I adored him and did to the best of my ability whatever he wanted.

    But she eventually turned on me. I understood, she had to depend on him. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what she said in those first moments were her honest opinion. The rest of her life was just eating whatever shit sandwich fw and the whore dished out.

    She had been so proud of what he (with my help) had achieved in the community and his promotion to Captain). He shit on her and her dreams same as he did mine.

    Note: MIL had been cheated on, financially abused by her own husband, so she knew first hand.

  • I loved my in-laws–they were fabulous people and really welcomed me to the family. I had a difficult relationship with my mother, so having my MIL’s love and approval was especially lovely for me. However, when my marriage ended (no kids) after I discovered my ex’s 2nd affair, I chose to step away from them for the most part, but insisted that my ex tell them why we divorced. (I suspect he only told them there was one affair, but I wasn’t going to make that an issue.)

    I did keep in touch with them very loosely by mail, and I called them once a few years after my divorce when I unexpectedly found myself on a business trip in their small city (my time was completely scheduled during the few hours I was there, so no opportunity to see them). And they remained consistently warm and kind.

    I’m still occasionally in touch with my ex via email (I’m way past Tuesday, and many years have passed, so this contact doesn’t trigger bad feelings). His mom died about a year ago and his dad a few years before that. My ex has told me several times that among their daughters-in-law (2 more from him, and 3 others who were married to his brothers), I was their favorite, which makes me happy because I loved them a lot. Losing them in my life is the only regret I have about my divorce (other than my taking so long to get over it).

  • After I left my LCL upon the 2nd D-day, I’ve been treated with distant politeness by my in-laws. Only my sweet MIL reached out to me *once* in the early weeks to say “I still think of you as my DIL” and “I will not take sides”. I appreciated this sentiment, but it’s very clear that she had taken her son’s side already, and always will. Blood really is thicker than water. In fact he lives with his mom now, and his sister and her kids. He’s perfectly content to lap up the kibbles and ego stroking that they continually provide for the can-do-no-wrong son. The manchild has also never lived on his own and would be lost if he had to do so.

    Yet, for a number of reasons our adult kids prefer his side of the family to my side of the family and want to spend as much time with them whenever they’re in the state. So of course I don’t want to miss out on holidays or events with my adult kids, even when it means going to my in-laws’ houses. Missing out on time with my adult kids who aren’t around very often would just make it all more awful.

    My in-laws will accept me into their home for holidays at which my kids will be present, but it’s a pretty cold experience for me and I must “hold my nose” a lot at the increasingly obvious (to me) narcissism in that family.

    Last Christmas was the first holiday with them and the hardest. They invited me to join them for a couple of days and included me in their Christmas shopping list, but could offer no sleeping accommodation for me cuz they have a large family (it’s at least a 4 hour drive away from me, so staying overnight is necessary). The options they gave me? A nearby hotel, or sleeping in their dusty barn with a space hear (in the dead of winter!) I chose the nearby hotel.

    Then, I had a big birthday this summer. My sweet MIL sent me a card and $, but not a single word from the other in-laws. This was really rich, because we went out of our way to celebrate my SIL’s 50th birthday and paid for a nice dinner out for the whole family (which as I’ve mentioned is a large one).

    I feel as if they see me as the villain in this story. He has had a chat group with his mom and sister for years now, that I’m not a part of even though I asked to be included. I learned that it’s because he was using that private chat group to complain about me to his mommy. So his mom and sis have been primed to see my faults and be the “bad guy” in our relationship for many years now, especially the 3 years he was carrying on an affair. Totally sucks!

    • I should clarify that the nearby hotel option was on my own dime…so I had to pay for the “privilege” of having the most traumatic Christmas gathering ever (especially since it was at that home that I had the 2nd D-Day). It was worth it, however, to get to be with our kids, with whom we are both still very close. I will likely continue to choose to spend certain holidays with them if my kids will be there for that very reason. And it will likely just get easier and easier and easier as I realize I can’t and shouldn’t expect much from the in-laws. I will get closer to meh!

  • My in-laws were decent for exactly 2 seconds after d-day. “We are so ashamed about what he has done!” Then silence, then spackle-DARVO extravaganza with this one unifying theme: “He works so hard because he loves his family. It’s not his fault that women are throwing themselves at him at work. If you weren’t a stay-at-home mom then he wouldn’t have to work so hard and this wouldn’t have happened.” In other words, cue the angels and trumpets, their son is the Messiah. And I am at fault because I personally inserted his penis into random holes. I blocked every single one of them in that whole family tree. There is pain in saying that because my ex-sister-in-law was my best friend. The betrayal from her was a different kind of sorrow. Family members are usually happy to be sucked into the cheater’s narrative. It’s a more comfortable version for them.

  • I would contact DIL and let her know you are prepared to help her in any way she requires, including helping her pay for a divorce lawyer so she can get a fair deal.
    Words of support are great, but actions are even better. If the cheater has a problem with it he can go scratch.

  • First set of in-laws were great. The whole family was, and all of them thought the FW was a mess, and loved me. I went off to grad school, though, and we mostly drifted apart. I moved back over 20 years ago, and his sister and I always get together on our shared birthday.
    Second set of in-laws were pretty much absent in my life due to their orthodox religion. I was nothing but an embarrassment to them, nevermind the psychopath they spawned.
    The third set, notably the xMIL is still in my life, but only because of my darling daughter. Lemme just say the FOO issues run deep with the FW. I’m glad my daughter is an adult, and their influence is negligible. The xMIL was also a cheater, and tried to normalize the behavior to her teenaged sons. Ick.

  • My xfw abandoned his 91 year old father as well as me and our daughters. He ran away to Thailand when he met a 21 year younger bar girl! His father wrote him out of his will in favour of my daughters. He will forever be my hero!

  • My ex’s family was super supportive of me (brother and his wife, sister and his wife, mom, and his dad and his partner–my ex’s parents were divorced), individually and in groups for various family gatherings my ex was not at. (I didn’t want to be at the same ones as him, but since they had divorced partners, I could usually go to one of each kid’s birthdays. They were really supportive after my ex left and in the years after, and now it’s been nine years. They were also supportive of my last partner (not the ex) and welcomed us both to family gatherings and holiday stuff (once we spent Christmas Eve with them, which was the big celebration in their family). I was and still am so incredibly thankful for this family-by-choice. My ex-SIL was also very kind this last winter after my ex-partner left and was so encouraging in a hard season.

  • Dear Feeling Betrayed, I would be totally disgusted with stepson too. I commend you for your moral stance.

    The ex-h FW’s family was as screwed up as he was. I was discarded as a family member as soon as I filed for divorce, and was dismissed with these things happen.

    I wish I had an MIL and FIL like you. Your modeling of appropriate behavior will help your grandchild be someone very unlike their cheatin’ dad.

  • My MIL was difficult after I married her only son. For the first 30 years or so. When he ran away, telling her ‘we had separated ‘ she asked him point blank if he was with his ex fiancée from 40+ years before. He denied it but what he didn’t know was that I had told her he was going back to his twu luv. Despite some dementia she told me she thought he was a cold fish and a ‘rotter’.

    Fast forward five years and he has dumped granny in a care home and she tells me she doesn’t trust him and she didn’t care if he visited or not. I maintained a relationship with her, my daughter and I sitting with her through the days and nights when she was dying aged 101.

    She may have been partially responsible for her son being so lacking in emotion but she was always supportive of me for those last years. She even said she loved me and I should have been her daughter. She saw very clearly who her only son was and it hurt her but she started to see me and her grandchildren as her only family. I miss her.

  • I always got along with Ex’s father, never could stand his mother. They were not supportive during our marriage, but also did not interfere. I kept up contact for my children’s sake. I would be so disappointed if my son’s turned out to be cheaters like their dad. My own family is like running through a mine field. The important thing is set boundaries and act with dignity. You cannot control other people. Let them feel the consequences of their own actions.

  • I have one of those great in-laws stories, especially FW’s youngest sister. She was almost as supportive of me through everything as my own sisters. She let me vent about her narc brother, told me to get out, etc. FW had told lies to his whole family about me – that I was depressed, that I knew about the OW and was fine with it, etc. She told her whole family the truth, including her parents (my MIL and FIL). They sent be a beautiful, supportive email after Dday, have continued to support me, we exchange emails and cards. They even got me Christmas gifts for a couple years after. They are elderly and getting more frail now, and with time my contact with all of FW’s side of the family has lessened, but I know they still love and support me, and I know it’s for me, not for access to my son. They have been incredible. I won the absolute in-law jackpot, and I’m very grateful.

  • My sister is a compulsive repeat cheater and OW. Every time I think she’s in a stable relationship, she blows it up with an exit affair with some guy who doesn’t have much going for him other than novelty and a complete lack of principles. If New Guy is also a cheater, she will desperately try to hang on to him until he ends it. I don’t think she knows how to have a healthy relationship, just drama.

    I’ve tried to maintain some kind of relationship with her in spite of my complete disapproval of her lack of honesty because I’ve never stopped hoping that she would someday hit rock bottom and ask for help, or fearing that her lifelong tendency to self-harm and addiction would be too much for her. But now after half a century I wonder if it’s time for me to accept that she believes she’s done nothing wrong. 🙁

  • My soon to be ex inlaws told me I’m sill their daughter. They are very unhappy with their FW son and won’t help him get a lawer. For which I am thankful. Though I was weirded out by the “we’re still family”. In my head his FW choices were some how their fault for raising a him… that’s unfair of me I realized. But for a while I blamed them.

    I reached out to them to try and manipulate them into not helping my cheater wih getting a lawer. Truns out once they heard what i knew and saw the evidence they understood and haven’t pushed me back to him. Which was another fear I had. They agreed not to make me be around him with them.

  • Hi all – Feeling Betrayed Too here.
    Thank you all for your words of encouragement on continuing to be supportive of DIL (formerly referred to as Wife) and especially to those of you with personal experience of this from many sides. To those of you who didn’t get the support you deserved from your in-laws, I’m sorry and please consider yourself included in mine.
    Tracy, thanks for calming me down with the reset that natural consequences will play out as they will. Cannot tell you how I laughed (much needed) at the engraved “Our Son is a Fuckwit” announcement imagery! 🤣 📩 I realize simply saying we’re sad and disappointed with his choices is clear enough.
    It’s way too soon to know what the family and interpersonal dynamics will be in the future, but that’s true with everything isn’t it? I didn’t cause this cluster, I can’t fix it, but I can be there for her with love and support and that is what’s important. Thanks to everyone for that reset and confirmation, and for taking the time on this site to provide support to each other and me. ❤️

  • As a stepmom, you can pursue a relationship with the mom to see the kid. I wouldnt worry at all about the stepson. I would doubledown and be the best grandparent you can to the kid and that might mean cultivating a relationship with mom to get more access. The poor child needs you!

  • FW had cut off contact with his family, but his sister and I stayed in occasional contact. After D-day, she was very supportive and helpful. FW was furious when he found out I was talking to her, making all kinds of threats, saying I betrayed him, etc. He had told me many, many stories about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his family. Perhaps his parents weren’t the best (they were quite young, and his father does have a drinking problem), but knowing how he twisted the facts when it came to me, I have become rather skeptical of the stories. I even told FW’s sister about one incident he had related to me, and she said that that was not at all what had happened. So I think FW was embellishing the stories and making himself out to be the victim (something he excelled at) when in reality most of it was simply consequences of his own actions.

    After he took his own life, his family expressed a desire to see my son and me more, and they have been lovely. FW always said they didn’t care about our child, but that wasn’t it at all. HE was the one who was preventing us from seeing them. We have subsequently spent holidays, birthdays, etc. together and my son has gained a set of grandparents, two aunts and uncles, and two cousins. He is so happy. FW’s family detests OW (she was a huge factor in his suicide – she left him and he just couldn’t take it) and agreed with me to prevent her attending the funeral, and shut down all her attempts to communicate with them.

    My son (age 9 at the time) told his grandparents that daddy had said they were bad people, but he thought they were very nice and daddy was wrong.

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