Good morning, Ms. Hax! My husband’s mother passed away 10 years ago, before we got married.
My father-in-law remarried shortly after my mother-in-law’s death.
We are expecting our first child, and my husband is thrilled, but the new arrival is shining an extra bright spotlight on how much he misses his mother. His stepmother is beside herself with excitement, and is increasingly setting herself up as a prime target for my husband’s frustration. For example, she talks about how excited she is to be a grandmother.
My husband finds her “grandmother” comments disrespectful to the memory of his mother. I pointed out that our children will inevitably see her as a grandmother-type figure, but that we can also honor the memory of his mother as part of their lives, yet he still bristles when Stepmother does so much as ask how we’re doing. How can we best approach this delicate situation? – A.
Isn’t it time you and your husband – he in particular – stopped treating this as delicate?
The greatest dishonor to his mother’s memory is the way your husband punishes his stepmother. It’s self-indulgent cruelty to regard her love as coming at his mother’s expense, when they’re two separate things.
To your coming child, she is a grandmother. She deserves to be treated as such, and not as a “grandmother-type figure,” which is a ludicrous non-entity, a byproduct of the kind of tortured phrasing that emerges from walking on eggshells.
Please urge your husband at least to consider that the greatest tribute to his mother’s memory would be to stop blaming the person who cares about (and for) the people she left behind. Isn’t that what she’d want for them, after all – to know someone looks out for them, as she no longer can?
And: Name the baby for the late grandmother. Spin those tears into gold.
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