My brother-in-law and his wife both began dating others post-divorce; their young sons had a hard time with it. A year ago, we were expecting our first child and my brother in-law began seriously dating a woman no one in the family liked.
He talked about moving away, getting married and having more children. Meanwhile, his children were acting out, expressing anger, etc.
I felt compelled to call his girlfriend: I left her a voice-mail message indicating that her relationship with my brother in-law was hurting the rest of the family, that his children hadn’t yet adjusted to the divorce and it would be best if she left the situation. My husband and in-laws also felt this way but no one else would speak up.
It probably wasn't my place to speak directly to this woman, but I was angry because her actions were hurting people that I care about and taking away from the joy of preparing for my first child.
They’re no longer together, however my limited relationship with my brother-in-law is now non-existent and my husband and he have limited contact. I’m upset that we can't move forward and that my brother-in-law’s made no effort to see his one and only nephew.
I’ve attempted to mend bridges. For my husband’s sake, I’d like to make this situation better but I’m sure that my brother in-law doesn’t see how his actions affected every member of the family.
There’s meddling … and then there’s muddling whole relationships. You have done both.
Since you had serious concerns for your nephews, you should’ve taken them to both his parents in a helpful way. People going through divorce already know their kids are feeling the impact - the adults and their children need guidance, the love and support of extended family, (remember, “it takes a village …”) and counselling when needed.
Calling this woman was rude and intrusive. And your added selfish motive proves it.
You owe your brother-in-law a sincere apology even though your interest in his kids was valid. YOU need to now understand that you negatively affected a whole family relationship, just as much as he once did.
Your husband’s (and his parents’) failure at the time to talk to his brother shows that this family operates differently from you. In future situations involving others think of what’s best for them, not just what suits your mood.
FEEDBACK One reader’s comments on the complexities of pleasing all sides of the family at holiday times. Think ahead for Easter:
Reader – “As our extended family grew, my parents ran into the same problem of everyone wanting to be at their parents’ house on the day of Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter.
“My parents decided they’d host the holiday get-together on the day it fell one year and the next appropriate day the following year. There are four kids with spouses and 13 children in the family.
“We alternated like this for 25 years without problems. My parents have passed away and we still alternate so the children and their families can be together on both sides.
“It’s not just about the day; it’s about getting together and being fair to all families.”
Our dog was at the vet, dying on the day of our long-planned dinner party. My wife insisted we carry on. Was she right?
At least one of you was very attached to the dog. Dinner could’ve been re-scheduled … the dog’s last moments and your grief couldn’t be.
FEEDBACK A reader writes some positive advice for the person who wondered where love was hiding:
Reader – “I just read the January 26 question from a man, 49, "Looking for love in all the wrong places." Please tell him to not give up.
“I’m 48, divorced for 17 years. I concentrated on raising my two kids. Now that they’re independent, it’s time for me. But at 48, it’s difficult to get into the dating game.
“Friends and family say I’m a great person with a lot to offer ... I work fulltime, own my own home, car and I’m financially stable.
“BUT, the men I’ve met only want "friends with benefits" and they want the benefits immediately. Where are the men who want a long-term committed relationship? And where are the men willing to put the time and energy into building a relationship?
“For the meantime, I’ve decided that life is good as a single person ... no fighting over how the toothpaste is squeezed! If love happens, great; if not I still plan on living life!”
Tip of the day:
Instead of just critiquing others’ lives, consider what suggestions or actions can be truly helpful.