My soon-to-be husband has a friendly relationship with his former wife, which I like and respect.
They share a child, and I think that it’s great that he can maintain a cordial relationship with his ex.
My problem is with his ex's family. He’s close with the ex's siblings and mother.
They text each other regularly – I don't know about what, he always says they’re just saying hi or other random things.
He’s helped them financially in the past, and I suspect he’s still "loaning" them money when asked.
Is this something that I should accept?
I completely understand and respect his relationship with his ex, but do I need to accept his relationship with his ex's family by extension as well?
Too Many Ex-Relatives
Accept an ongoing connection with his ex-relatives, but with limits.
These people are his child’s grandmother, aunts, and uncles. So long as they respect you as his wife and the child’s stepmother, some contact with them is natural.
It would also not be unusual for you to be on friendly terms with the child’s relatives, through meeting at school events, and special occasions.
It would reflect self-confidence on your part and true regard for the child’s comfort.
This is still a transitional time leading up to your marriage, and there’s no reason to come down heavily about the texts.
But if the frequency of contact becomes excessive, mention this without expecting him to cut ties.
However, if you find that you’re correct about his “loans” and they affect your financial situation together, it should be discussed as a couple’s issue.
Either one of you may feel some responsibilities to people from past associations. But they should be out in the open, not a secret.
FEEDBACK Regarding the grandmother who’s concerned about not being allowed to be alone with her grandchildren (June 1):
Reader – “There may be other factors involved that are not being addressed.
“Example: The parents may feel that the grandparents aren’t physically capable of keeping two toddlers safe simultaneously.
“This is a BIG issue for new parents, as many are having children later in life, and consequently, our parents are also much older grandparents.
“Many grandparents have health problems, like arthritis, back problems, etc. that we feel make it difficult for them to adequately respond quickly if something were to happen to a child.
“My two-year-old runs away, tries to run under swings, etc.
“It may not be a relationship issue, but a safety one.
“Also the grandparents’ home may be unsuitable for children, due to safety or lifestyle issues which have become a roadblock (Ellie: e.g. alcohol use, smoking).
“Many daughters-in-law really want their children to have a wonderful relationship with their husbands' parents.
“Sons are less likely to deal directly with their parents about these issues, and for some reason, parents of sons are less likely to ask, directly and respectfully, for what they want.
“So the problem never gets resolved. It's not that anyone wants to block access, it's that the people who SHOULD be having the difficult conversations, never do.
“I am in a very similar situation and I would LOVE to have the conversation with my in-laws about these things, but my husband doesn't want to. I have to honour his wishes in this too.”
Ellie – A thoughtful perspective.
Families involved in a grandparents-vs.-in-law divide would benefit from discussing together what the real issues are, with help from a family therapist.
I contacted children’s services with concerns about my husband's niece. The parents figured out it was me, based on the report.
They’re unstable, angry, and revengeful. I fear they’ll try to sue me for what they’ll think is a malicious report.
The children’s services official consulted with me beforehand and agreed that some of my concerns were reportable.
But my father-in-law, who’s in contact with them, says the agency found no issues.
Yet children’s services have been contacted previously by the school and neighbours.
My in-laws say that it's wrong to report on family.
The child’s other grandmother agrees with the validity of my concerns.
Fearing a Lawsuit
In many jurisdictions including yours, anyone with reasonable grounds to suspect that a child’s being abused or neglected, MUST report this to a children’s services authority.
A lawsuit about concerns deemed “reportable,” would have no weight.
Your in-laws are wrong to cover up for family, instead of protecting this child.
Tip of the day:
When you marry someone with children, be prepared for some ex-relatives in the mix.