I am officially a Mrs. AND, I need some in-law help

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
I am officially a Mrs. AND, I need some in-law help
Mon, 06-17-2013 - 5:40pm

First, the ceremony was wonderful!  Sunset on the beach in Hawaii.  Very excited to be married.

Here is my quandry.  This is nothing new by any means.  But just punctuated now that we are married.  

My parents tend to mention my xH in conversation.  Not in a pointed way or anything like that, just in conversation.  Say....that they are over and my DH (will take a while to get used to that!) and my dad are looking out into the back yard and my dad will say "oh yea, I had to help xH......"  or when at their house "xH came over and fixed _____ for us."   Never directly regarding xH versus DH or anything.  But just enough that I don't blame DH for being a little annoyed.  

Obviously my DD is going to mention her dad.  And we can somewhat understand my big kids occasionally mentioned him, as they still have a relationship with him.  But my parents mentioning him is really getting to DH.  Honestly, if it didn't bother DH, I don't know if I would take too much notice of it.  I don't know, maybe I still would.  

DH knows that he is somewhat sensitive and tries to take some of it with a grain of salt, but he already doesn't feel totally welcomed by my family (again, partially his own stuff) and my dad did it again just yesterday on Fathers Day.  Ugh!  We made until right before we were leaving and his name came up.  Later my DH says "I wonder if your dad just can't help himself."  

I have to admit, even though I can accept my dad with all of his quirks, when my parents came over the day after we got home to visit, I did get a little bothered when my dad started talking about other stuff and I did kind of get a glimpse of what my DH had been feeling.  At least they didn't bring up my xH!!!  My DH mentioned that my dad didn't even say contgratulations to him and I said "well, he didn't say it to me either."  I didn't give it a second a thought, but it bothered DH.  

Anyways, I am babling now.  

I have talked to my sister about it, not really knowing what to do.  And will probably ask her again.  But wondering what all of you think.  Last night DH just said "I guess it is just me and you babe.  I wish it could be different with your family, but it is what it is."  Sigh....

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-16-2002

Hrm, not quite sure why you said you needed "in-law" help when the issue is with your family?  How about speaking to dear old Mom and Dad and asking them *not* to mention things that X-H did for them, or bring him up.  I think people can just be naturally clueless about things, especially when no one reacts negatively in response.  Your husband is being a trooper, and he does not have to be.  These are your parents, and you need to set some boundaries with them, for his sake.  He married you, and knew that came with your family including kids and an ex, but he does not need to be reminded of him at each family function.  Your X will always be in your life because you have children together, and yes, he's going to be brought up from time to time, and will be physically present from time to time.  Your husband will need to get used to that fact, but your parents need to know they have to start establishing a relationship with him now, and the way to do that is to not bring up xh name,.  It also takes longer with older adults to get used to change, so they tend to stick with what they know best (the past).  Congratulations to you (both) on getting married and in such a lovely location as Hawaii, relish those memories!

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

.  -Albert Einstein

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

First of all, congratulations on the wedding.  I went to Hawaii for my honeymoon for my 2nd wedding and I thought it was such a beautiful & amazing place.

Now for the problem.  Well you have mentioned it to your father and you could remind him again.  If he just talks about your ex in passing but not as in "the ex was so great compared to the new DH" then you are right that he probably doesn't know he is doing it or doesn't realize why it's annoying.  You can't really control what he does and your DH has the choice whether to be annoyed or let it go also.  I know that I had to remind myself not to mention my ex too much since it annoyed my 2nd DH--it was just that he was around so long (15 yrs) plus we had kids together.  It's not like I was still in love with him or anything.

Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004

How recent was your divorce? It may be years or months but it's obvious your parents, or at least your father, is still mourning the death of your first marriage and the relationship he had with his former son-in-law.

There's a great myth in our culture that divorce is only between the two people who end their marriage. Nothing could be further from the truth: divorce is like a rock thrown into the center of a shallow pond, it's impact ripples outward and affects everyone around your marriage. That's friends, family, coworkers, social pals, etc. 

Unlike a death, where there is a body to bury and a mourning ritual, divorce doesn't have a set of like rituals and rites. It's make it up as you go along. So, give your dad a little space and a lot of time. He'll either stop bringing up your EX or he won't. Either way you and your new DH have to learn to accept your father may not accept  your new life.

Good luck.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Hi Serenity-- CONGRATULATIONS :) !! !! ! RE: your dad's remarks re: exH..... Best I can suggest is pulling you dad/mom(whoever offenders are) aside, and saying, "I know this seems stupid, but....it really bothers DH when.....could you try to just not mention exH name when talking?" eg: instead of : "oh yeah, I had to help exH re-build this part of the deck.." (or whatever), ... he could say, "oh yeah, I helped rebuild this part of the deck....it's blah blah blah wood we used here..." or "oh yeah, I worked on rebuilding the deck here, ...it's blah blah blah....." Maybe if you spell it out to dad with some simple examples he could better understand that he's welcome to talk about whatever he wants, and not that difficult for him to avoid specific references to exH ...... I mean, there's a history, and dad was there and so was exH, but dad doesnt have to specifically mention exH's name..............takes a little thought on dad's part.......................and about all you can do is point it out to dad (again!) and make sure DH knows you did that.........that's really all DH can ask of you, y'know? I have been fortunate that the 2 men I've been serious with since D have both been sensitive re: that so *hearing* about the exW's was never an issue for me---and I dont think would have been anyhow, because that's not one of my trigger points, KWIM? But, to this day, my SO will say, "when I went to Hawaii....." or something, ...not "when exW and I went to Hawaii...."............because unless the story is about exW (and it isnt), there's no need to bring up the name.................kwim? Anyhow--- CONGRATS again ! :-)
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2008

I haven't been around the boards in a while and happened to pop in today and I am glad I did!  Congratulations Serenity!! I may have had an inkling that you were married.  ;)

I understand this dilemma all too well. My MIL did this to me just this year at my DH's birthday dinner.  We were having dinner at her home and suddenly, she whips out a DVD from when my DH and his XW were still married and celebrating Christmas.  I was dumbfounded, as was my DH.  Here she was, playing this video of them opening presents and having a grand old time while I uncomfortably watched and eventually, excused myself to the other room.  My DH asked her why she did it and she was just so proud of herself that she had taken an old VCR tape and converted it to DVD - she thought he would want those old memories from when his son was younger. 

She had good intentions.  I don't think it was meant to hurt me, as I don't think your father is intending to hurt your DH.  After my DH told her he didn't want to remember those days as he has moved on and how rude it was of her to play the DVD in front of me and my kids, she was confused and had no idea why it would bother me.  You see, she has never had to deal with things like this.  She has never been a divorced woman in  a blended family and so she honestly has no idea how little, inconsequential things like that could hurt someone.  I don't know if your parents are divorced and re-married, but I suspect your father just doesn't understand how things like that impact your DH.

My DH sat down with his mother and explained to her he appreciated the thought but to check with him before she did anything like that in the future.  He told her I was uncomfortable with the DVD viewing (and now I have images burned into my brain that I can't unsee), explained to her how it made me feel and she said she just didn't think about how it would make me feel and didn't mean to hurt me.  I got over it pretty quick because his mother tends to do relatively insensitive things quite frequently but this one left me with images that I didn't want to see.

Explain to your father again how uncomfortable it makes everyone - not just your DH.  Don't put it all on your DH or he might feel that he needs to man up and deal with it. If you mention it makes you both uncomfortable and you know he means well, but it really is just unnecessary to bring him up.  It is hard for our parents to understand the dynamic that the blended family has to deal with because it wasn't common in their era.  My parents had a hard time with my divorce and my father liked to bring up my XH all the time.  I had to have multiple talks with him regarding this issue as well.

Good luck and hopefully your father will see it from your perspective. 


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010

Congratulations!  Oh...Hawaii...you are SO lucky. Sounds like heaven! I'm 53 years old and that's my dream place to go, but still haven't been.  I was planning a Hawaiian vacation for my ex's and my 25th anniversary, but he decided to divorce me instead and then went on his honeymoon with wife #2 to Hawaii.  Yes...it hurt.  Dh and I just can't afford it right now, so my dream still waits.  I did tell dh that when my pension kicks in in 7 years (I got 1/2 of my ex's), we ARE going to Hawaii...which will be around our 10th anniversary.  When I told dh this, his response was one of basically, "Your going to frivilously spend your money?" to which I replied, "YES, I AM." :)

As for your father and his comments...I agree with everyone else in that you should talk to your dad and just explain how it makes your new dh feel.  I can't imagine he wouldn't understand, but, like someone else said, many people of our parents generation don't understand divorce and all the emotions that go with it, etc..., but it's worth a shot to at least ask him to not do that. 

How long were you married to your ex? In my case, unfortunately, we were married for so long, that most of my life memories so far include my ex.  Luckily, my kids finally understand that I don't care to hear about their father and they are not to discuss my life with him.  It took a good couple years though for them to "get it".  I was with my ex-MIL recently and she starting saying her son's name to me and noticed the look on my face and stopped in mid-sentence.  She understands and never condoned his decision to divorce me.  My dh doesn't have to deal with any of that since we don't live near my family and even when we do see them, noone brings up my ex.  My ex was never a real part of my family's life as I was HIS, so there would be a greater chance of my ex's wife hearing about ME than the other way around.  My DDs said when my ex-FIL passed away last year that the whole family asked about me.  Of course they all did!  I had met all my ex's family and was a big part of his family. 

At any rate, I totally understand how your dh feels and hope your dad will, too.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006

Thanks everyone!  

Starting....Hawaii is worth every penny!  Do some asking around before you decide where to go though.   I never thought I would be able to afford it, either.  But everything just fell into place.  I can't wait to go back to Maui.

As far as my dad, I had never thought about my parents perspective of never being divorced.  I think my dad knows we all get along, and he truly just doesn't realize.  My parents still see my xH.  He is a contractor and they would just assume pay my xH instead of some stranger if they need something done.  They know it ultimately helps me and my DD13.  Plus we all go the same volleyball games, etc.  I was only 23 when I met xH, so he has been in my life for over 20 years.   

Our divorce was final in 2004.  Been with new DH for over 7 years. 

April, holy cow!  A christmas video with his xW?  I hate to say it, but my DH not having any parents is one less thing I have to deal with.  I guess it is hard to be mad at your MIL when she really doesn't "get it."  But still must be horribly frustrating.  

I am kind of afraid if I don't say anything to my parents that one of us, me or DH may just pop off one day and say "enough!"   It seemed to be getting better and I was hoping it had passed, but apparently not.  

Anywho, thanks again for all of the replies.  And good to see you here, April ~

Serenity CL - Making A Second Marriage Work