The Meeting Place

Should I remain friends with my ex’s family?

This month YOURLifeChoices subscriber Brian would like to keep in contact with his ex’s family but is unsure if this is the right thing to do?

Q. Brian,
My wife and I have divorced but remain on good terms, even though she has moved on with someone else. During our marriage I was very close to her family, in fact they became the family I never had of my own. Since we have split I have lost this support network and I do miss this. Is it possible to reconnect with them? Or do I just have to accept that they are no longer in my life?

A. Brian, sadly this is often the case when a couple splits; friends become divided and family loyalty tends to trump any relationship the other partner may have had.  Whilst I think it is honourable to try and maintain a relationship with your ex’s family, you need to question why this is so important.

It could be as simple as the fact that they have become like your own family, one which you don’t seems to have experience of in your own right. If this is the case and the bond between you and certain members of the family is strong, then I would suggest you get in contact with them, just to say hello, in the first instance. An invitation to meet for a coffee or drinks is a good icebreaker, but don’t be too forthright or forceful in the first instance. You may receive a warm welcome back into the fold, but you should also prepare yourself for a ‘thanks but no thanks’ response. Your wife has moved on and they now have to take into consideration her feelings and those of her new partner.

If you are trying to keep in contact with your ex’s family as a way of remaining close to her, or indeed trying to make life a little difficult for her, then this is unfair and can only end in disappointment.  While your split appears to have been amicable, it’s incredibly difficult to let go of a relationship which appears, from what you have said, to have been all-encompassing to you. Sometimes it’s best to leave the past in the past and move on. If you are having difficulties dealing with this break-up, then maybe counselling could help. You could start by talking to your own GP, or contact Relationships Australia for information and support on how to deal with a marriage break-up.

Perhaps you’re simply lonely. If your wife and her family were your sole avenue of support, company and socialising, then it’s hardly surprising you are unwilling to let this go. If this is the case then you need to look at other options  through which to socialise and build new relationships. One organisation which specifically helps men build new relationships, open up about their feelings and generally just gives them somewhere to hang out, is the Australian Men’s Sheds Association. Men’s Sheds are popping up all over Australia and offer the opportunity for like-minded men to get together through shared interests, the need for company, or support during illness or stressful times.

When the time is right, you may wish to consider moving on yourself and enjoying some romance. Meeting someone to share your life with isn’t always easy, but opening yourself up to the possibility by dealing with your past relationship is the first step. Once you have done this and feel you are ready to move on, many local seniors clubs cater for people who are lonely, or just looking to make new friends, by running outings or holding get-togethers. You can find a seniors club near you by doing a simple search on aussieweb.com.au

Brian, whatever is behind your need to reconnect and keep in contact with your ex’s family, I hope I have been able to give you some useful suggestions to help you move forward.

Do you agree with my advice, or perhaps you have been in a similar situation and can offer some first-hand advice of your own?

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32 comments

Hello Brian, it would be nice if everyone could be friendly, trusting, and open about continuing friendships after two friends or relatives split up, but, although you marry a family and not just the individual,  it would be unusual if two "divorced" families could continue as before.

You may find that some of these in-laws will be happy to continue contact with you - if it is kept private. Others may think their loyalty would be questioned and foresee problems if others find out. To expect complete acceptance and inclusion by everyone would be wishful thinking.

My sister's first ex was devastated when she left him.  I felt extremely sorry for him as he had no idea there was a problem - and he did not have many friends or relatives he could call on for support. He phoned me and asked if he could maintain contact with me. I thought about it and said we could continue to have phone contacts  - under set conditions. These were (1) that he should not expect me to keep him informed on her activities or whereabouts, (2) that I would not take sides, (3) that I would not try to get them back together, and (4) he must understand that, as she was my sister, my support for her would have to take precedence. I told her what I had decided, and after some discussion about the rules I had set, she agreed that she trusted my discretion. This worked well for a couple of decades (until after her second marriage failed). She then became more understanding, and they now have the occasional phone or email contact.

Her second husband has never contacted me or her since he asked for a divorce fifteen years ago. Nor has any member of his family (but they were never friendly). Both she and I wonder where his life has taken him.

Good luck and try to create a happy, active new life.

 My husband and I are living with his ex wife only for a limited time atm.
We share all the family - his ex - in laws, my ex husband and his wife, the grandchildren.
Its all strange to some people but because there is no bitterness re the divorces (we all got married the first time too young) we are like a big extended family.

I know this wouldn't suit everyone depending on the circumstances but we are blessed.

I find this thread very interesting. BUT, did Koko say that fwed is cute ?????????

I have found 3,987 words in the dictionary to describe fwed, BUT "cute" did not come up even once !!!!!!!!!!!!

The original meaning of cute was 'bow-legged' :)

arhhhh innes , you need a new dictionary  :)

Why fwed?   I happen to like the one I am reading.  Quite apart from the technicalities of the formal dictionary;  ARE YOU REALLY, REALLY CUTE?

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