Ask Amy: My Step-Mom Excludes Us For My Husband’s Ex-Wife

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dear Amy: My mother-in-law causes a rupture in the family which hurts my husband.

We haven’t been married long and her divorce was controversial. Her ex managed to delay every step of the divorce, and went after everything she could, including the house, which he ended up leaving to her just to end the proceedings.

My husband cried when he told his parents years ago how unhappy he was with their marriage, and his mother’s response was only, “How will this affect the grandchildren?”

While they were divorcing, she took the little “kids” (they are twins in their early twenties) and their mom to Disney World! More recently, she took her grandkids out for dinner on their birthday with — you guessed it — the ex, not her son/us.

He and I asked him and the rest of his family to stop socializing with the ex.

My MIL claims she is afraid the ex will cut her and her husband off of their grandchildren because the ex is very manipulative and the twins are very immature (they don’t drive, live with their mother and have no life).

The rest of the extended family respected our wish to cut ties with the ex, but not my MIL, and it was very hurtful to my husband. He feels like he doesn’t have the support of his own parents. (His father is passive and lets his wife do whatever she wants.)

Please advise us on what we can do. We do not want this dynamic to continue.

Disturbed: The way you describe this situation, your husband’s ex is the gatekeeper, controlling access to his adult children – or at least your mother-in-law perceives it that way.

The continued contact with your husband’s ex makes you feel uncomfortable, but you can’t insist that it stop. Unless your mother-in-law invites the ex to family events, forcing her to become closer to you and your husband, you really have no say in how she chooses to conduct this relationship.

Your husband should strive to maintain a relationship with his children. If he has a good relationship with them, his mom might not have to go through her ex to spend time with her grandkids.

dear Amy: My friend “Candace” constantly says things about herself that just aren’t accurate. For example, she drinks more than two bottles of wine every night, then berates one of her friends for drinking too much.

She’ll say things like, “I like my wine, but I’m not an alcoholic like Shelley” or “Shelley drinks too much and argues” (Candace too!).

I say nothing, but I think she might take my silence for agreement.

I know that all of us, including myself, are guilty of not seeing ourselves for who we really are.

Do you have any suggestions on how to politely respond or push back when this happens regularly with someone – or is silence the best way to go?

Biting: If your friend “Candace” constantly talks about her friend “Shelley’s” drinking, this would provide you with an opening to move on to her drinking. She might approach this topic as a kind of trial balloon – testing the waters to see if you’ll react.

The way to talk about it is to be respectful, concerned, candid and fair: “I know Shelley’s drinking bothers you, but I have to be honest and say I’m worried about your drinking.”

The most important aspect of discussing your friend’s drinking is for you to detach yourself from your own desired outcome. Candace won’t suddenly bump her head in full consciousness and run for the healing.

Denial is a powerful side effect of addiction. The alcoholic needs to believe that his addiction serves him. The silence of friends and family members perpetuates the fiction: There is nothing to see here!

dear Amy: “Embarrassed in the bridal party“felt scorned because his friend the groom demoted him from being “best man” at his wedding and then jokingly referred to him as his “best man”, while calling him the replacement best man ( and future brother-in-law), as the “better man.”

I think you both didn’t get the joke that the “better” man is the lesser of these options: good man, better man, better man.

The brother-in-law is the target of this jab.

Fan: I think you’ve cracked the code (yes, I missed it), and I hope this “witness” can see it that way.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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