Life Advice



Mother-in-law's friendship with ex is disruptive

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for three years. He has three teen children (ages 17, 18, and 19) from a previous marriage. My husband's first wife filed for divorce, and they do not have a good relationship.

My mother-in-law has a great relationship with my husband's first wife. They are so tight, that my MIL consistently invites her to family events where my husband and I will be present. My husband has had to tell his mother more than once that he will not attend these events if his ex-wife is invited. My brother-in-law and his wife have also had to tell my MIL that they will skip family events if the ex is present.

Recently, two of my husband's kids graduated from high school. They went to dinner with their mother, stepfather, and my husband's parents afterward. My husband and I were purposefully excluded. My MIL thought it was perfectly fine that we were not invited.

If my husband and his ex have a disagreement over something, my MIL automatically takes his ex's side and dismisses my husband. My husband's ex has created an alternate version of events, which she shares freely.

I want to make sure we aren't just being petty or immature for being so upset by my MIL's relationship with his ex. If my husband and his ex-wife had an amicable divorce and were able to be friends afterward, I would support a friendship. I can also understand why my MIL would want to be civil to his ex-wife for the sake of the kids, but she treats my husband's ex better than she treats him or me!

My MIL has told my husband that he is not allowed to dictate with whom she associates.


I can understand, but is it wrong for us to expect that there should be different boundaries in my MIL's relationship with my husband's ex-wife?

-- Just the Second Wife

Dear Second Wife: Your husband should never discuss his ex with his mother. He needs to remove the fuel that seems to fan her disruptive flame. You and he should focus on your own relationship, and your MIL should not be included as a party to your marriage. If she treats both of you badly, a natural consequence would be for you both to avoid her.

You and he should focus on building the best relationship possible with his children. Never discuss their mother in a negative light, and don't involve your MIL in your decision-making concerning the children.


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