Dear Annie: My husband of two years was divorced from his ex six years ago. They had no children. The divorce was the result of infidelity on his part. When we began to date, he was very upfront with me about his dysfunctional marriage and about how his infidelity was the result of his being shut down by his wife in the bedroom for several years. They split, and she bought a house 1 mile away from him. He was honest about what happened and was very clear he had nothing to hide.
She has suddenly become all about “the family.” It is as if she is taking out her anger over the divorce on me. 1) I wasn’t the girl he was seeing back then. 2) It isn’t her business.
Now it has been made perfectly clear that his family recognizes her as family and not me, and he is also treated like an outcast. She is front and center of everything, attending all family events.
I have tried to be nice and civil to her, but she is always rude to me. My husband’s sister finally came around and apologized, recognizing that the ex’s being around all the time does pose a problem.
I love him, and I hate to see him hurting like this. How should I handle his family when we both feel like outcasts? – Outcast
Dear Outcast: Though you can’t control other people’s actions, you can control your reactions to other people. Try to be sympathetic to your husband’s ex-wife. Clearly, she has struggled to move on from their marriage. By focusing all of her energy on his family, she is wasting opportunities to meet a new partner and move on with her life. As far as how your in-laws are treating your husband and you, all you can do is lend your support and love to him.
It sounds as if you’re off to a good start toward repairing your relationship and, in turn, your husband’s relationship with his family, given his sister extended an olive branch and apologized. Try as best you can to be the bigger person and accept her apology. Let go of any resentment you hold. Let’s hope that in the future, he will once again feel close to his family. As is always the case, communication is key. When your feelings and expectations are clear – and you are clear on everybody else’s – then the situation will go more smoothly.
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