When going through marital problems and a divorce with your spouse….is it fair for the In-Laws to put their two-cents into your affair? If so, should they take sides and threaten you from your children or attempt to make your life more miserable than what it is?
Two Different Scenarios:
(Disclaimer: these are fictitious and are loosely based on experiences shared by others)
Wife is upset that some of the bills are falling behind, she becomes frustrated, maybe she has been the main person holding a steady job while the husband has been spending frivously. She and her husband have conversed about this many times. She doesn’t know whom else to turn to but her father. The wife’s father becomes upset with this situation….he loves her daughter and gives her a loan.
Should the father-in-law approach the husband at all? If so, should it be a man-to-man talk or provide threats ?
Husband finds out his wife has been having an extramarital affair. The two have argued and discussed the situation. He still is injured by this knowledge and shares what he learned with his family. His family is well-to-do and has political and social influence. The family begins to threaten the wife for full custody in another state and sends other spiteful messages. Meanwhile, they begins organizing family trips with the children sans the mother.
Should the husband just have kept this issue between the two of them and deal with their marriage dissolvement without family input? Could he have spared the disgrace of his wife’s name to his family for the sake of their kids? If poor judgment was made by the husband…should the family still maintain an arms length distance from their marital affairs?
My Personal Experience:
When reflecting on my marriage….we had our issues. Some of those issues were so hurtful that as a woman I did need to lean on someone. I remember sharing my decision to get a divorce with my father. He did not nudge me in either direction, just listened and said I will come up with the right answer and do what makes me happy and put your children’s wellbeing first. That’s it period. No calling my ex, having a man-to-man talk or providing any threats. In fact, he pretty much stayed out of my decision to marry, my parenting choices and when visiting did his best to stay out of my husband’s way in handling the household….despite his differing views. When I did have trouble with finances…they were not discussed. He had a good sense when we were living on the hog or when we were just treading water. When he did have a sense, a modest check addressed to me would be in the mail and when I spoke with him, he would just give me personal financing advice to protect myself, not family finance advice nor did he have a talk with my husband.
My husband’s family were not dumbfounded and knew I was not always happy. His father from time to time would ask me if I was alright and if everything was going okay, during our family visits. Afterall, there were various adjustments throughout my marriage which would test any marital couple. I would quickly smile and say we are adjusting and the situation is improving. Matter-of-fact I remember they had to get on him when they saw me moping around the house because again…there were no anniversary plans. His sister began explaining the importance of incorporating a monthly date night to foster a healthy relationship. But that was the extent….. they never knew too much. I actually felt distressed that they knew that much…because I couldn’t maintain a poker face for a couple of days.
My husband has endured pain by me and I have by him….but he never shared his frustrations about me to his family. He kept them out of our affairs. In-fact when his mother and father were probing why we were getting a divorce….his answer was vague that “I wasn’t happy”. Now mind you…..that was not the excuse I wanted him to give. I huffed and puffed as I felt that answer did not show me in the best light. Why couldn’t he tell them that we just couldn’t reconcile our differences? Just say that….Gees! So my in-laws; the marital couple that have been married for over 40 years, see me as the woman that just wanted to deliberately end my marriage and family because I am not happy at the moment….which in their translation because they did not know much else….Oh he missed their wedding anniversary last year….so I guess she wants a divorce. Um No!!!!! Not it!! But I also bit my tongue….because no matter what the true reason is….I aim to foster an amicable relationship with the in-laws for my children’s sake. So no matter what it was….my fault, his fault would it really provide a positive outcome and healthy environment for my kids if we had a debate about it over our last supper?
While maybe my in-laws did disapprove of my choice….who knows? I really haven’t had that conversation. They never reached out to me and provided threats and their opinion on how I should work at the marriage. I know their number one priority is their son and their grandchildren. So once they knew the divorce was imminent…they just advised their son on the financial aspect of divorce to make sure he was aware to look out for himself as well as the kids. Make sure I wasn’t emptying his wallet. They also assisted him in getting his new place together.
So at present, I have dialogue with the in-laws, well via email and text. I share with them upcoming events and pictures of their grandchildren. No issues….well as of yet.
Now have I shared my marriage frustrations with my girlfriends? Yes! That is what us women do. There has been lessons learned there….but that is another blog topic.
My Viewpoint Going Forward:
When you are married, all discussions and issues should be between the husband and wife. Period. Only exception is a marriage counselor or your Pastor. Getting family involved is like “War of the Roses” multiplied by 2. There is no need to air your marital dirty laundry to your family. In-laws become vested in your spouse as well. So they not only become hurt because their son or daughter is distraught. They are also wounded because their daughter-in-law or son-in-law that they grew to love and become part of the family has indirectly turned their back on them. Not all in-laws are poised so some backlash is to be expected. However, any form of bullying that makes the grief of ending your marriage even harder, is not acceptable.