You may have heard friends and colleagues talk about how they dread the occasions when they have to be around their ex-spouse’s family — for example, at events involving your children. However, you are very close to one or more of your in-laws and want to maintain a relationship after your divorce.
That can be tricky as well. Assuming that the feelings are mutual and one or more of your spouse’s family members want to continue seeing you, how do you navigate that — particularly if they live nearby and you and your ex don’t want to run into each other regularly?
If you have children, it’s wise to include provisions in your parenting plan about when family on both sides will spend time with them. This is a good idea no matter what your relationship is with your in-laws. Typically, kids should be able to continue to have all of their grandparents, aunts and uncles in their lives.
If one spouse is particularly close to one of their in-laws, it may be necessary to set boundaries. Your family needs to recognize that they shouldn’t include your ex-spouse in a non-child-related event without asking or at least telling you first. It can make everyone uncomfortable.
This can take some getting used to for families, particularly when a couple has been together for a long time. As one divorce consultant says, “It really takes time for them to get used to it because divorce is also hard on them too.”
Don’t be surprised if a close relationship with an in-law doesn’t survive long after a divorce, particularly if they’re aren’t kids involved. You may need to be prepared to let go, or at least back off and maybe just remain Facebook friends or exchange the occasional email. If you can’t, it may be worth asking yourself why you really want to stay close to them. Is it a way of remaining connected to your ex? It’s good to be honest with yourself.
If you continue to have contact with your in-laws, whether just through your children or on your own, don’t drag them into any residual conflicts you have with your ex-spouse (or let them interfere where they shouldn’t). If you have issues with your ex regarding child custody, support or commitments made in the divorce agreements, address those directly with your former spouse or perhaps consult your attorney.