Alone but Strong

Single mother of two beautiful girls trying to rebuild my life. One day at a time.

Ex In-laws

I read the post What to do about the In-laws? today and it reminded me of a dilemma I have. I had a really great relationship with my mother-in-law (my ex’s father passed away before I met him). When we moved from Sweden to the US, she would come visit several times a year and when the girls were born and I stayed home she would come for extended trips. The longest was 3 months. My then husband would work and travel so most of the time it was just the two of us home with the girls. Then my ex moved out and she didn’t come visit for almost 2 years, I have no idea what he told her about it. During the separation he threatened me to tell people it was a mutual decision so I’m sure if she still thinks that. I went along with that to keep the peace, I told my parents and my close friends the truth, but with a 6 hour time difference and no face to face time, I have no idea what she thinks of me.

This past Christmas she came to visit for 1.5 weeks. I offered her to stay at my house with the girls since the Christmas week was supposed to be mine, but my ex took the entire time off so that she wouldn’t. I don’t know if he suddenly had the urge to spend time with her or if he didn’t want us to talk. I did see her a few times and the first time she commented on how much weight I’d lost. I wanted to tell her: “remember how much weight you said you lost when your husband died, can you imagine how these past 1.5 year has been for me? Being lied to and cheated on. Being threatened that he wants full custody etc, etc.” I said nothing since my ex was right there and smiled and said thank you.

Anyway, during that stay I brought up the fact that I wanted to go to Sweden this summer for a long visit. I asked my ex if he would like to come with for the first week, he could take the girls to see his mother and sister. He said it was a great idea, he told his mother and she loved the idea. Now fast forward one month, or a few weeks, he meets E. I had a suspicion that it would change things. A few weeks ago when I brought up the subject again since I wanted to book our flights he said that he couldn’t go. He said that he was moving so he needed to save money. I asked if I could still stay for 3 weeks and he agreed to that. Now back to my dilemma, has he told his mother he’s not coming? I don’t know. Should I contact her? Should I offer her to come visit at my parents house so she can see the girls (2 hours away so she’d have to stay the night)? What do I do? Do I, as always, take the high road and do what’s best for my daughters and contact her and try to make sure that she still has a relationship with them? I did during Christmas… I let him have 5 out of my 7 days. Why do I feel so guilty about things like this? Why doesn’t he have to take that responsibility and make sure that they have a relationship with her? Is it still my job or should it be his? And should I not pick up the slack after him, which I felt like I did during our entire relationship. Shouldn’t I be free from that by now?

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11 Comments

  1. Solving Maria

    “Don’t play his side of the tennis court.” A friend of mine said that to me and it changed everything. Your ex will only have a relationship that he creates. Do not make him have a relationship with your girls or with his mother. If you do, then you get all the guilt and eventually they will figure it out.

    If you want to see your Mother-in-law and give her the opportunity to have a relationship with your girls, then more power to you. All you can do is offer the opportunity.

    Please: remind me of the advice when I start to struggle with these same issues.

    • Thank you for the advice and yes, I’ll give it back to you when you start to struggle with the same 🙂

  2. I had the same dilemma with my sister-in-law. She lives interstate so there is much distance between us. Until recently I had only had 2 conversations with her in the 16 months since my husband left. I grieved our lost connection. Then she was visiting him for his birthday and asked to have lunch with me (on my own). We hugged and cried when we saw each other. Now our relationship has been re-kindled, on its own. By that I mean that she still has her relationship with her brother. And she now has a separate relationship with me. This is working out fine. The children also visit and contact her periodically. Life moves on.
    My suggestion is to stop thinking of your husband and do what is best for you and your relationship with your ex-mother-in-law. She is probably grieving just as much as you and would welcome the contact with her grand-children and with you.

    • As always, you are right! I will contact her and see what happens. I would love to see her and I know the girls would too!!!

  3. I am with Elizabeth and think the ex may mess up his familial relationships but you and your girls are who she would really enjoy seeing! Too bad his priorities shifted, one thing I learned from my exes, never to expect much and be grateful for “small favors!” What you do and how you lead your life will be noticed by more than your children and those are wonderful “paybacks!”

    • So true! It’s always worth it in the end, staying true to who I am.

  4. Take the high road and invite her to stay

  5. Well, hiya Maria. I think you should take the high road, too. Your girls are watching, and you’ll feel so much better about your choices. I think that is a really generous offer for you to ask your ex- MIL to come for a visit at your parents.

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