Who Gets to Keep the Family?

Recently I was reading a post another blogger wrote about in laws.  When you get divorced, what do you call the people who have always been your “in laws?” Do they become your “exes,” too?  Do they become something else?  Or do they become nothing at all?

This is the link to the post I was reading: http://goodmombadwife.com/2014/10/13/am-i-missing-something/

When we were in the process of getting a divorce, my husband and I were discussing (as if this was the most pressing issue at hand) which one of us would become the “black sheep” of our respective families of origin.  Apparently we assumed that if we got divorced, that someone would have to take the blame for it, and if either of us were to be the black sheep of the family, that only one of us would become that, while the other one would not.  I’m not sure where we came up with that logic.

From the minute we had started dating, both of our families took the other in as if we were members of our spouse’s family.  That was the one thing that I appreciated the most about being married.  I’ve heard so many horror stories about the in-laws from hell.  I considered myself lucky to be welcomed into a family where the parents of my husband considered me to be one of their daughters, and the sisters of my husband always included me in “sister things.” How blessed I was to have not only one loving family, but rather, two.

And then we got divorced.

And then I realized that for some people, blood will always be thicker than water, no matter what.

Without going into details about our divorce, things went south rather quickly, and one day, I logged into Facebook to discover that my mother in law had “unfriended me.”  I didn’t need to ask why. In the four years since then, the majority of those in-laws have gradually followed suit. Guess I know who won the title of “black sheep” in that family.  It wasn’t him.

I’d like to chalk up their disconnection from me as  a result of no one knowing the rules of etiquette when it comes to divorce.  Can you stay on friendly terms with the former spouse when it’s your child/brother/sister who that person divorced?  I know my own parents and my sisters were clueless about how to behave with the “other side.” Early on my sister asked me if she should stay “Facebook friends” with my soon to be ex-husband.  I told her what I would tell anyone else.  Who you choose to be friends with on Facebook or in real life is your business, not mine. I don’t care how you know each other. Really, I don’t.

After we got divorced my then therapist told me I should continue to send annual Christmas cards and maybe birthday and anniversary cards; to my former husband’s family as a way to “keep in touch.” Her reasoning was that if I kept the lines of communication open, that maybe they would eventually “come around.” This is the part where I tell you again, how sometimes you can be too nice.  And the pain that comes with attempting to make contact with someone who has consciously chosen to exclude you from their life is simply not worth it, or fair. I am all about being the better person. This is not one of those situations.

About a year and a half ago one of my former in laws messaged me on Facebook.  They told me that she wasn’t sure I even wanted to hear from them, but that they had seen my status update (a moment of complete oversharing which later got deleted) and that they hoped I was okay.  Wait, they weren’t sure I wanted to hear from them? So I messaged that person  back and said no, I was happy to hear from them and that I had thought the same thing of them.  I haven’t heard from them since.

For reasons that we both probably realized at that very moment, things are exactly the way they have to be. And that’s okay.

And no matter what, they will always be part of my family.