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His family keep inviting his ex-wife to family gatherings, what can I do?

Tagged as: Family, Three is a crowd, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (22 June 2009) 7 Answers - (Newest, 21 May 2013)
A female United States age 41-50, anonymous writes:

I am in a tough situation. My boyfriend is divorced but his family keeps inviting his ex wife to family functions even though he has asked them not to. She also invites them to her family functions and they accept.

Last December his parents spent both Christmas and New Years with her so he ended up coming with me and my family. I never understood this. We were suppose to go over on New Years but was told his ex was spending the weekend so we made other plans because it makes me uncomfortable and I can't see any good coming out of being involved with his ex as they have no children together.

Recently we attended a memorial service and she also attended, his family barely spoke to me and stood with her although it was for their family, not hers. Now we have another holiday coming up and his mother basically said she wanted his ex and her family to come and if I had a problem with it I didn't have to go.

I feel they are being disrespectful to us and me personally. It's fine if they see each other but why at events I'll be attending? are they trying to drive me away? my BF made a comment during an argument that it would have been amicable but because I have issues with it, it has now become problematic.

I think any woman would have issues with this but he's making me feel like I have hang ups and should accept this as part of a relationship and stop arguing about it. I feel it's not me, it's them causing problems. Any advice?

View related questions: christmas, divorce, ex-wife, his ex

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A female reader, Diane Woodard United States +, writes (21 May 2013):

Being a second wife of a man with four adult children by an ex-wife of 32 years, I do understand where you are coming from. I think the first thing you need to do is evaluate where your feelings are coming from. Are they coming from a place of legitimate concern, a place of jealousy, a place of insecurity? You also need to accept the fact that his ex had a life before you came on the scene and that it is none of your business if his ex keeps a relationship with his family. That is their business, and none of yours. Now, if someone is really disrespecting you, that is different. I am not referring to what you imagine to be disrespectful with no real grounds. Keep in mind that your guy brought her into the family and she can't just be removed like trash. She has a right to continue to nurture that relationship that has been a part of her life. What I did was first allow enough time for the apron strings of an old relationship to be cut, and then I accepted the fact that my husband's ex-wife is actually a part of our family unit. When we have holiday celebration and have the adult children and grandchildren over, there is no reason that the children's mother and the grandchildren's grandmother can not be part of the celebration. I now invite her. I am comfortable in my marriage and know my husband has no romantic interest in his ex. I don't think she has any in him either. Inviting her is the right thing to do for the sake of the grown children and grandchildren. She can also help me cook and prepare lmao. Let me be serious and say this did not happen over night because there were a few "clingy" issues on the ex-wife's part, but after 32 years of marriage I understood, but still did not allow or accept it. It was not personal, just habit. I think you and your guy are giving his ex just way too much power over your lives. Stop making her an issue and she won't be. I would never give anyone that much power over my life. Learn to look at her as another person at the event. Focus on your current relationship and not the past.

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A male reader, concerned22333 Canada +, writes (24 October 2010):

I've been divorced for over 10 years. My x-wife never liked my family ..and often let me know...during the marriage. Now SHE smiles and pretends I was the nasty one. I have 3 brothers and 3 sister's ..and ONE brother (and his wife) seem to often invite her to family functions. After having made this very clear that I don't care to be in the same room as her ...for any reason ...this one brother ..has invited her to his daughter's wedding. After much thought ...I made a showing and left within minutes. After waiting and thinking on this for a few days ... I sent a very clear email to both my brother and his wife ..(2 emails) ...to clearly say that if they didn't cease to be friends with her ...that they would no longer have anymore contact with me...and they had one week to reply and no response would be deemed NEGATIVE. (I HAVE never made a demand on my brother, or his wife...before.) It is my belief that I am their childrens favourite uncle. (She never liked my family, while we were married.)

WELL ...over a week passed and no response. I deleted both of them from my contact list ...and no longer talk to them on the phone, and as i live in a different city ...there is no communication now. I have another brother ...divorced ..and he hates it when they invite his ex-wife too. (they have even gone on vacations with her ..wow)

She cause me great pain and financial set-back ...during and after the marriage. She stole from me, and forced me into bankruptcy. I was worth 300,000 when I met her.

I have every right to be un-happy about her now.

Her parents are alcholics ..and this has affected her thinking as a child ...and beyond. She has told me many stories how her parents were un-supportive to her while she was growing up...ouch

Well, as I'm engaged now ..for 2 years ...and very very happy...with this wonderfull lady I'm now with...and plan to be with til i die. Why would I want be with my ex ...and have her be exposed to my new LOVE!!? Out of respect to My Fiancee ...putting the 2 together ..is not going to happen. I'm not afraid of ANY info that might be exchanged cause I was a great provider ..never cheated, and never raised a finger towards her. (My x-wife told her own mother that I HIT her ...and her MOM took me aside to say "she did not believe this" ..as her daughter, (my "x") bruises easily ...and never EVER saw a bruise. (I was shocked at this info ...from years past)

I can only imagine that my x-wife is a liar as her love for me was a lie. I adored her ...once ...and feel only betrayal ...as I look back.

Can you feel the negative energy ..as I even think about her!!?

My brother and his wife ...most likely will never see me again ...the least he could have done was make a feable excuse ...did not even get that.

This is several months later ...and as sad as this situation is ...I feel PROUD that I'm doing something that I believe is RIGHT. I did not do any name calling, use any bad words, at any time ...but knowing that I won't see this ex-wife of mine ...makes it all worth while.

I was very close this this brother, and he always told me to come back soon. his wife was always polite to me.

Also his wife is an only child ..so I understand she is more selfish/self-centerd.

I will never understand how my brother can choose to continue the friendship with my ex-wife ...at the cost of me dis-owning them.

I am very proud to be doing what I feel is right. Not for one second do I think that everyone should do this ...but for me ...it's the only right way.

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A female reader, Granny12 United States +, writes (8 September 2010):

His family is disrespectful to you. I have the same problem and my fiance and we ask first if they have invited her. If they have we do not attend. My fiance is kind enough to realize she is being disrespectful to us as a couple and having her in our face is not nice.We have missed weddings and graduations but we would not enjoy them with her acting like nothing has changed since the divorce six years ago. She left him and he has now moved on. Time for her to do the same.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (23 June 2009):

there are different types of relationships. just bec she divorced their son doesn't mean that they also divorced her. she is enntitled to be with them if they want it. you cannot force them to pick either of you. although i believe they should be sensitive to you, you also need to understand that they can do what they please. it may seem disrespectful to you, but if they had a close loving relationship in the past, why should they not continue. plse do not make demands or try to stamp your authority here. you will win them over not by being defensive or pushy but by just being who you are. maybe they will see the love you have for their son and come around in the future. but plse treat carefully or you may find yourself without any in laws. i think your insecurities are coming out and it is natural to not want to be in his ex's presence all the time but show them that you are not threatened by her.

one question- were you a factor in this marraige breaking up? if you were then that explains a lot of their behaviour. if you weren't, then he ex's inclusion merely means that they still consider her as a daughter, and that they care and love her,and she is merely an extended family member. if they are being intentionally malicious/rude/disrespectful then plse do not stoop to their level, chin up and enjoy the times together. even if it kills you. you don't have to play any game but just be yourself around them all. in the end they will see that you do not mean any harm and time will heal. this ex should not be the enemy. sometimes we all can co exist without the need to kill each other. we just need to establish boundaries and respect each other.

good luck

(let me share something with you- my hb's sis got divorced after 27 yrs of marriage. her hb is still included in all our family functions, even when his ex is with us. although they divorced each other, our relationships still remain the same. my hb's family still love him, he stays over at their home when he visits that part of the country. we are sensitive to the sis, but we do not hide our relationship with him. we love them both, equally. our love and close relationship is still intact with him. it is sometimes hard for her but she understands our family bond. just bec of the divorce,it doesn't mean we need to cut him off (completely). birthdays/xmas/weddings/mothers day -basically all good days- we make an effort to include him. there is no disrespect toward my sis in law. she understands and she made peace that he will always be a part of our lives (and hers too). we all co exist, because this is what families do.it is difficult but necessary)

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (23 June 2009):

Honeypie agony auntThe only way I see for her to realize that YOU are in the picture is for you to show up. BE there. WITH him.

I assume there are no kids, but really it doesn't matter. For some people family is family no matter what, divorce, re-marriage, deaths, crime.. you name it. They have bonded with her. She has bonded with them.

Do you know WHY they divorced? Maybe they somehow are taking their disappointment out on your husband and by default out on you.

But really, by you keeping away because she is going to be there you give her a foothold. A reason to keep at it. The more you show up, the more they can get to know you. Pretends she is a crazy aunt not the ex-wife, it might make it easier. However it doesn't mean you have to ever invite her to anything you host or join her when she hosts anything.

I know it can be daunting, but if you plan to stay with this guy you need to get this out of your system. The more she sees you, the less I am pretty sure she will want to be around. "Kill" her with kindness. It works.

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A male reader, holikdad United States +, writes (22 June 2009):

You're right, his family likes his ex better than you. Who knows why, but this happens fairly often.

In my example my wife was married once before. The marriage lasted a year, no kids, and he was physically abusive. About five years into her marriage with me my wife's mom redecorated her house and put up all of their wedding photos, but none of ours. WTF!!!

Who knows but they're jerks, as long as your BF supports you I'd say that he should sit down and talk with his parents and say something like this. "Until you accept -Insert your name- like I do and stop all contact with -Insert Ex's name-, we will no longer be joining any of our family functions. Please do not contact us in the future unless it's to apologize for the position that you have put us in."

That should do the trick, they'll probably get mad at first but after they find that your BF, their son, means business they'll probably come around.

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A female reader, kellyxxx United Kingdom +, writes (22 June 2009):

kellyxxx agony auntHis family clearly have a bond with his ex and you can't just expect them to break it. The best thing that you can do is to be the bigger person and attend gathering when she does, even try to engage in conversation. This will throw his family off, they won't expect it at all, so if they really do have intentions of making you feel uncomfortable they will soon see that they have failed. Just try to get over this situation, its out of your hands.x

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