I met my future sister-in-law at a yoga class we both attended. She was eight years older than me and had a child, while I was still single, but we became friendly.
A couple months on, she suggested that I meet her brother. The rest is the history of my marriage and divorce.
Her brother had qualities that I then thought were important - good-looking, good job. We both declared love within a few months.
The early years were great - raising a young family, a close circle of friends, and the support of my extended family including my sister-in-law, her husband, kids and her in-laws, too.
She shared some private information which surprised me about her. Over time I saw unpleasant character changes in my husband. There was a thinly-disguised self-centredness in the siblings.
Several years later, after counselling didn’t help us, my husband and I divorced. My in-laws dropped me, immediately.
I have trouble understanding why. My ex met and married someone very soon after the divorce, and they’ve been happy together these past 14 years. His wife is a better choice for him than I was, and I’m equally happy in a long relationship.
I wouldn’t have wanted one of those Hollywood movie post-divorce lifestyles with all the in-laws and their extended families, with married kids, etc. I just hoped that my once-close sister-in-law and her husband would keep in touch.
And that my kids, who still saw their father, would also have their birthdays acknowledged and periodic contact with his sister. I tried to acknowledge her kids’ occasions but they weren’t that interested.
Why does divorce turn whole families into “ex’es?’
Your in-laws were warm and embracive of you when you were a part of their family. But they weren’t generous enough of spirit to continue contact once you rejected one of their own.
Your ex’es new wife had to be enveloped into their circle, instead. That’s pretty common in marriage breakups followed by new unions.
However, the dropping of in-law contact with your children revealed the underlying detachment you detected earlier in your sister-in-law.
But time and age sometimes brings unexpected changes. You and your sister-in-law may have some contact in the future... or not. Meanwhile, if your children have a decent relationship with their father, that’s the more important connection no matter your feelings about him.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man whom you felt needed to encourage his angry sister to seek mental-health help (December 15):
Reader – “You recommended that the sister’s search for help include a psychologist's diagnosis.
“Thank you for your knowledge and good common-sense in directing the reader to an appropriately qualified professional to provide a diagnosis, i.e., a Registered Psychologist.
“Now that "mental health" is on everyone's radar, there are many less-well trained persons offering all sorts of mental health services.
“Some look potentially helpful, some do not. Worse, there are some frankly unqualified parties diagnosing all sorts of mental health conditions without the proper education, training, or government-regulated qualifications and authorizations to do so.
“You've just done a service for the public.”
Ellie - If you or others know of “unqualified parties” diagnosing without proper education, training, qualifications or authorizations, report them through mental-health associations and the government agencies that oversee them.
It’s up to all of us to serve the public if we have insider knowledge that’s important to share.
My wife doesn’t want intimacy with me anymore. I asked her why and she answered that it’s because I ignore her.
I send her flowers on her birthday and on Valentines’ Day. I take her out to dinner every weekend.
We have arguments but I’m sure everyone has them.
I saw her messaging a male friend telling him she hasn’t seen him for a while. She asked him to get together. Am I acting insecure?
Yes, because you’ve done little to keep her happy with you. Flowers? How about a simple bouquet once a week? Dinner out every weekend? Not during Covid. Cook for her sometimes, eat takeout by candlelight.
You need to give love in order to get and keep it. Then the arguments should lessen, not just be accepted as “normal.”
Tell her you don’t want to lose her, and that you want to share real intimacy which is more than just sex.
Tip of the day:
Divorce isn’t only about the couple involved. There’s often a secondary dividing of relationships with others - once-close in-laws, friends you once shared. Some remain close, others take sides.