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Husband wants to attend ex-father-in-law's funeral!

Tagged as: Big Questions, Family, The ex-factor<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (10 June 2010) 26 Answers - (Newest, 15 July 2010)
A female United States age 51-59, anonymous writes:

My husband wants to attend the funeral of his ex-father in law. I feel very strongly that he should not. He wasn't particularly close to him but says he should do it out of respect.

I would feel very uncomfortable going with him as I have met most of his ex wife's family and they have treated me rather rudely. I have told him I won't go. He still says he is going.

My husband has three children who are the deceased's grandchildren and at least of one of them has told him that it will be fine if he doesn't attend.

Personally, I think when he married me that he became part of a new family. So, please tell me why he feels drawn back to the old family? By the way, he has told me that his ex wife's siblings treated him coldly when he divorced their sister.

If the kids understand, there was no love lost between him and ex brother and sister in laws and the deceased won't know if he's there or not, why is he going? Could it be a show of support for his ex wife?

I'm deeply hurt. Am I overlooking something here?

View related questions: divorce, ex-wife, his ex, sister in law

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A female reader, ca girl United States +, writes (15 July 2010):

I disagree with the majority of the posts having just been through a similar situation myself. Unless your husband has maintained a close relationship with his ex father-in-law, or his ex-wife has asked that he go, he should not attend.

He can go to the funeral home and pay his respects there during visiting hours but he should not go to the funeral and any other services unless he knows his ex-wife family wants him there. There is no need to make anyone that is grieving feel uncomfortable with his presence and yours.

It is still his children's family, but it is no longer his. I'm sure his children will have plenty of support from family members there, so no need to use them as an excuse to go where he is not welcome. Send flowers, write sympathy cards, stay away and let the family grieve.

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A female reader, Tisha-1 United States + , writes (11 June 2010):

Tisha-1 agony auntI think I'm understanding the situation a little more. I see your antennae are quivering, that's why you are so attuned to the slight whiff of a hint of being called a bitch. Which I did not. You are defensive, having been badly hurt by people who should have loved you and you are terrified that this function will allow his ex some sort of toehold back into his life.

Look, that toehold is there, whether you like it or not, in the form of their children together. She is going to be a satellite of those children's orbits for the rest of her life. She lurks, she is there, and there isn't anything you can do about it, unfortunately. That is the reality of the situation. Funeral or not, she lives, and is his children's mother. So keeping him from the funeral is really kind of a weak defense of your marriage, in that light, I think.

I keep saying the word gracious to myself because what I am hearing from you is insecurity and fear and neither of those emotions are attractive or sexy. You've found the man of your dreams, show him that you are the woman of HIS dreams by supporting the decisions he has to make. And yes, he's the one who gets to make the decision about going to the funeral. I sense a great deal of simmering fury and deep unhappiness inside you at the way life has been treating you and you are lashing out at people who you invited to comment on your situation. I didn't pop into your house and say, 'dear, let the man go to the funeral,' you asked us what we thought you might be overlooking. I pointed out that the children involved might like their dad there. Some may perceive it as a show of support for his ex, but it's a pretty weak one if you compare it to eight years of separation and a marriage to you. It's not like she's winning, if you understand me, by having him there. She's lost that one entirely, and everyone knows it. Why don't you?

There's a core of distrust and anger somewhere inside you that is revealing itself here under stress, and you might consider talking with someone about that, so that you don't inadvertently cause the thing you fear most, pushing your new wonderful man right out of your life here. You sound fragile and tense and nervous and I just wonder how he's managing to cope with that. Is he loving and supporting you, or has this become a fight now? You don't have to answer me, it's a rhetorical question. I'm saying it out loud because I wonder if you are taking other things and, due to those overly sensitive relationship antennae that detect things that aren't there, creating mini-rifts with your husband that needn't be there.

Yes, he's married you and he should be by your side. But he can't turn his back to his children in the process.

So, no, I don't think you are a bitch. I think you are a scared and unhappy woman and I would like to see you taking positive steps to move to a happier place in your life. That's my take on it.

Best wishes to you, sincerely. Namaste.

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A female reader, BunnyTee United States +, writes (11 June 2010):

BunnyTee agony auntIndeed.

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A female reader, BunnyTee United States +, writes (11 June 2010):

BunnyTee agony auntTRUST BUT VERIFY.

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A female reader, Carrot2000 United States +, writes (11 June 2010):

Carrot2000 agony auntI asked if there was an affair involved because, once again, I couldn't understand why a 51-59 year old woman would be threatened by an ex wife at a FUNERAL. I apologize if this hurt you, but I honestly was trying to figure out why your reaction to this situation was so strong, especially since you are angrier at the ex wife than your husband is. If anything, you should thank her: if she hadn't left, you never would have found him.

Your husband has obviously moved on from the wrong his first wife and her family committed against him, and you should, too. Clearly he's not the type of person to return evil for evil, nor is he attempting to attend the funeral to establish a relationship with his ex and the ex in-laws. He simply wants to pay his respects because although he may not have been treated decently, he is a decent guy. Giving him a hard time about going to the funeral is not covering your bases, it's asking your husband to behave in a way that is out of character for him. You say you trust no one; does this include your husband?

And the same way I assumed your reaction is because of an affair, you're assuming that the ex wants your husband back in her life. We're both jumping to conclusions.

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A female reader, BunnyTee United States +, writes (11 June 2010):

BunnyTee agony auntThank you, Poster. I appreciate your willingness to note the distinction, I can think of nothing worse than being a bleeding heart. I make no apologies for my stance, neither do I believe should you. I am well-known for my departure from the rank and file warm fuzzy, PC line of thinking: "we must embrace everybody/thing and be friends with it, casting aside all forms of critical thought and common sense". yeah ok whatever. I think you're just being smart. Broken down to the bare metal, facts remain facts.

I've sorta been where you're at: my husband's 17 yro daughter was killed in a head-on a few years ago. I KNEW his ex's whole trailer park tribe would be there. but there was no way I was going to leave my husband to face it alone. It was just the sort of horror I had expected it to be: tacky, contrived drama, posturing, and devoid of any and all decency. I could feel the daggers from across the aisle. As though it were *I* who had some nerve..

Cut short: we got through it. It's not about insecurity it's SOLIDARITY. YOU and he are the present. Who gives a flying you-know-what what the past's unwashed, heathen tribe thinks? Wasn't it they who gave him the freeze-out thing? Hold your ground. Support your husband but don't be stupid about it. Maintain your dignity and allow them to the ones to further debase themselves. Not you.

It's not as if this is a blood-relation, or a his child for heaven's sake it's an *EX* FIL. I see nothing wrong in your opposition. While they may remain part of his past, nothing says that must be maintained or re-visted, I think you're just trying to avoid inviting potential unnecessary trouble trouble through the door.

'nuff said.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (11 June 2010):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

To Bunny Tee: I'm sorry I lumped you into the group with the others. I do so totally appreciate your support.

I realize that a person cannot give every single detail behind any particular situation and therefore people are going to form opinions when they don't know all the facts. Yesterday was not a good day for me. I was upset about other issues and admittedly, also upset about my husband wanting to attend his ex father in law's funeral.

I have told my husband (who had decided not to attend because he knew I was upset) that I had given more thought to it and thought he should go. AND (for all you other posters) I told him it was for his children's sake that I was changing my mind. I do believe they would be pleased for their father to show his respects to their grandfather.

But, Bunny Tee, I agree with you. I am not one of these people who believes in one big happy extended family either. People make choices in life. They leave relationships. They walk out and they close the door. I've lost loved ones and yes, I've searched the crowd at their funerals looking for friends and old lovers and if I saw them, I took it as a sign they were there for ME. Maybe that's a childish way of looking at things but that was my opinion. And, I do believe his ex wife will do the same thing. My husband and his ex were separated for 8 years before divorcing. Neither made a move to make it official until he met me and started divorce proceedings and I always surmised that she thought she could walk back in whenever she wanted. Forgive me, but I have found the man of my dreams and I do not want nor need his ex looking for cracks to get back into his life. Insecure? Maybe. Smart? I think so. I've lived through some crap and dealt with some unscrupulous individuals and have learned that although there is good in all people, there are also serious flaws. My own brother cheated me out of my inheritance so I have learned to TRUST NO ONE. I'm just covering my bases.

To the two individuals who suggested I had an affair, I have to wonder just what kind of people you are. I may be a bit insecure, I may be jealous but an adulterer, I AM NOT! Shame on you is all I can say.

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A female reader, BunnyTee United States +, writes (11 June 2010):

BunnyTee agony auntUm, but *I* am not a bleeding heart by any stretch of the imagination. I was on the OP's side!

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A female reader, eyeswideopen United States +, writes (10 June 2010):

eyeswideopen agony auntAnd with that follow up, I'd say the problem is resolved. Our work here is finished..name the movie.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (10 June 2010):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

To Carrot and q1605: You two are so brilliant! No, Einsteins, I did not have an affair with my husband. The daughter of the dead man walked out on him and his three young kids 10 years ago. We have only been together 4.

She treated him like crap, the whole family treated him like crap.

For all your info, I have told him that he can do as he pleases. I will not be there.

Thank you all for your bleeding heart answers. It's so easy to judge isn't it. As for not calling me a selfish bitch, what more did you have to do than say the words?

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A female reader, angelpie United Kingdom +, writes (10 June 2010):

i actually see your point about you not being allowed to go. but its an impossible situation. if he was friends with this man then he should go, but as his wife you are not welcome which isnt nice for you, add to that it is his ex wifes dad i feel your frustration.

is there a middle ground? could he go to the funeral but duck out of the after do? if he is set on going there isnt much you can do, except maybe go meet up with a friend for lunch and have yourself a good time while he is there so you dont sit at home dwelling.

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A female reader, BunnyTee United States +, writes (10 June 2010):

BunnyTee agony auntDitto,q. Nice job on the presumably missing pieces, Carrot.

On the flip-side of this coin:I am, personally, no advocate or believer in the "we're all one big happy extended family, ex's, in-laws, out-laws, blah, blah" concept.. EX means ex. That was then, this is now.

Poster: if your root concern is the appearance of support for his ex-wife, then why not go along, too? That should serve as an adequate deterrent. This way you give the appearance of dutiful support all while demonstrating that marital solidarity is alive and well in your house. I'm sure his ex will notice that. It's a win-win for you.

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A female reader, Carrot2000 United States +, writes (10 June 2010):

Carrot2000 agony aunt*OP asked: Could it be a show of support for his ex wife?*

This is the crux of the problem. You don't have a problem with the kids or the ex in-laws, you're threatened by his ex wife. You want him to forget he ever had a life with this woman, but that's not the truth at all. Did you, perhaps, end up with this woman's ex-husband because of an affair? That's the only reason why I could see a 51-59 year old woman being upset about her husband attending a funeral and being threatened by his previous life.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (10 June 2010):

I'm 29 and I recently lost my grandfather. I was glad to have my dad there at the funeral for support. So, I guess in your eyes that makes me a "toddler who needs Daddy by my side." Well, so what if it does? Why should you be able to make that decision for him and his kids? Perhaps you think at 24 that his kids don't need that support, but I don't think you can make that decision. And I'm sure they do all know what the family situation is like, and from the way you put it, it sounds like they know their dad won't be able to go because you don't want him to. No one said you were a selfish bitch, you are just choosing to throw in a bit of martyr-type rhetoric there, but I do think you are being selfish. So, you don't want to go, therefore, you don't think he should go either. I don't see that as him extending a courtesy, I see that as you controlling what he is and isn't allowed to do. If it was some sort of big fun social occasion I would agree with you but it's a funeral.

I am sorry that you have lost close family. But what you did in your situation doesn't really have any relevance on what your husband wants to do now. It wasn't clear from your reply whether you and your ex had been married and had kids, so I don't know if the situations are the same. I think that your husband probably wants to show some respect and be there for his kids. Maybe you think they are too old for that, I would disagree.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (10 June 2010):

*Ok, I see everyone's point about respect. But, may I ask what is wrong with sending a nice plant or a sympathy card to the family?*

He wants to attend the funeral in person, no matter what age they are he was still their grandfather.

Isn't is easier just to accept that this is what he wants to do instead of causing bad feeling over it.

I think the problem you have with it is you see it as showing support to his ex wife. Let it go.

Occasionally I run into my ex husband, he can't even look me in the eye, I wish he had half the class your husband has you should be proud of him.

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A female reader, Tisha-1 United States + , writes (10 June 2010):

Tisha-1 agony auntThank you for the followup. You know, I think you are actually trying to control him, more than you realize. If he wants to go, for whatever reason, isn't he entitled to decide for himself, without you second-guessing him?

Yes, there are other ways to express sympathy. We could spend the next three hours evaluating the subtle nuances of whether a card or a plant or a floral arrangement sends the exact right message of grief and condolences to the grieving family.

Maybe he just wants to be with his adult children as they bid goodbye to their grandfather.

I think the best tactic is to let your husband decide, as an adult and independent thinker, what is best for him. And then let him do it without nit-picking the decision. That would be my advice, support him in his decision, even if you don't agree with it.

For the record, no one called you a selfish bitch.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (10 June 2010):

This post really shows that your are very insecure in your relationship with your husband. Regardless of how he has been treated by his ex-wife's family, his childrens' grandfather has died. Even if they weren't close, he was once part of that family, and even though he is now with you, it doesn't just erase his past. He needs to go to the funeral, at the very least to support his children and be there for them. It's nothing to do with old families, new families, etc. It's about being there for his kids in a very difficult time. Moreover, maybe he does just want to show some respect to the man who was once his father in law. I see no problem in that. It sounds as if it is certainly best that you do not go, as judging from the fuss you are making over this I suspect you will make it extremely difficult for him on what is already a difficult occasion. Funerals should not be a tug of loyalty, don't try and make it into a big deal when it really isn't. It really sounds as though you are jealous of him being in the same place as his ex-wife, because I do not see any other rational grounds for him not to go. The fact that you are deeply hurt says more about you than about him. Let him go to the funeral and stop being childish.

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A female reader, angelpie United Kingdom +, writes (10 June 2010):

you have mentioned bad feeling between all but the dead man and your husband. is there a chance that the person who is being buried was good to your husband over time and there was no bad feeling during the divorce. if so then there is no reason why he shouldnt go.

he may also want to be there for his kids.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (10 June 2010):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Ok, I see everyone's point about respect. But, may I ask what is wrong with sending a nice plant or a sympathy card to the family?

Personally, I don't feel like I "controlling" him. I just would not attend any service or event where I didn't feel like I could take him with me and I feel he should return the same courtesy. But apparently, I am a selfish bitch.

As for his children, the youngest of which is 24. They are all adults and well familiar with family circumstances. They are not toddlers who need Daddy by their sides.

I have lost both my parents and a sister and my ex did not attend my mother's funeral (this was after our breakup). I didn't expect him to and it's not that I didn't think he didn't care for my mother. It's because he was no longer in our family and I think he would have felt out of place and it would have been awkward for everyone. And, he was closer to the whole family (not just me) than my husband is or was to his ex wife's family.

Just sayin......

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A reader, anonymous, writes (10 June 2010):

This man, was your husbands children's grandfather, he wants to show his respect, how can that be a bad thing? I agree with eyes it shows some class.

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A female reader, eyeswideopen United States +, writes (10 June 2010):

eyeswideopen agony auntI'm afraid you are truly over-reacting to this. I totally agree with Tisha, he going to a funeral for crying out loud, not some wild party. I think he is showing real class by wanting to pay his respect to his ex-father-in-law, I suggest you show how classy you are by graciously allowing him to go.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (10 June 2010):

I feel your Hubby is right. In these circmstances, we should forget all the differences and be with them

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (10 June 2010):

I think he feels a sense of duty and to be honest at funerals people do 'notice' who has been respectful and come along to be supportive. Your husband is honouring his children and their roots so this is NOT about a threat to your relationship. If you feel your relationship is that unstable maybe you need to consider what other factors are making you feel this way - maybe this represents many other things you are feeling unsure about? I would let him go and tell him you understand his sense of duty and respect.

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A male reader, eddie Canada +, writes (10 June 2010):

eddie agony auntIf you need to have that much control over a funeral, the next funeral will be for the burial of your marriage. What are you afraid of? The fact that he has three children are reminders that he did have a life before he met you. That will never change. I think you sound a little insecure. What were the details of his divorce. Regardless of what they were though, it sounds like you're over reacting.

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A female reader, Tisha-1 United States + , writes (10 June 2010):

Tisha-1 agony auntYou are objecting to your husband going to the funeral of his grandchildren's grandfather? He may have been given the 'all-clear' by his children not to attend but that doesn't mean they don't want him there.

He might have a new family in you but his children are still part of the 'old' family.

It's not like he's going to a party to hang out, drink beers and have a good time. He's going to pay his respects to a man who was related to him at one time, and who was still related to your husband's children.

I'd let it go, let HIM go and be gracious about it, if at all possible now. It's a funeral, not a statement of intent for him to reignite something with his ex.

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A male reader, The Realist Canada +, writes (10 June 2010):

The Realist agony auntThis family is still part of his life and always will be. He's not doing it to go against you but at one point he called this man family. It is probably out of respect, it's not like he is making a speach, he will probably just sit in the back. I think he is doing it for himself so that he knows that he is showing support and has a chance to say goodbye. You have no need to be part of this past life but it is a part of him. Try not to think of it as him going back for the rest of the family, he is going to pay respect to the deseased and I am assuming his widow and that is all.

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