Whether you loved or hated your in-laws while you were married, dealing with them after divorce can be a hassle. If you are sensing a change in your relationship with your ex's family, there are some things to consider before you react to the changes.
Understanding the Family Role
It is important to remember that families tend to stick together, which means forming a mutual love or mutual not-much-love for people who come in and out of the lives of different family members. If you had a great relationship with your ex's family during the marriage, it should not be a huge surprise that they start giving you the cold shoulder in the grocery store or stop showing up at your parties after the divorce.
Even if you have not done a single thing wrong to other members of your ex's family and considered them friends who you cared a lot about, they may not be as warm toward you after the divorce.
Or, you could find that they are just as warm as ever before. The difference often comes down to the terms of the divorce.
If you left on mutual terms then things may go unchanged but in most cases you will find the family not so open to you after the divorce. This is how families show support and love for one another and often it has nothing to do with you as a person. Try not to feel rejected, just remind yourself that this is how it is for some families.
The Value of Distance
If you are feeling rejected or alienated after losing tight-knit relationships within your ex's family, it will help to distance yourself as much as possible. If you are keeping the family home and live nearby someone who is now less than friendly towards you, then consider a move if it is seriously affecting your emotional well being.
In most cases, you won't have to go so far as to move houses. You can change your schedule a little so you don't have the uncomfortable run-ins with them. You may also need to take up a new hobby in order to fill time that was otherwise spent interacting with someone in your ex's family.
Just as putting some distance between you and your ex's interactions can help you get through the initial pain that comes from losing your spouse, some separation and change can help you deal with losing your ex's family members that you loved.
Family You Did Not Love
If you already had strained relationships with your ex's family, then you may be feeling relieved not to be so intimately connected with them any longer. It's important to take that relief as a positive aspect of the divorce and not make things worse by blowing off steam and telling everyone exactly what you think of them.
Telling your ex's family off may make you feel a bit better in the moment, but it will only create more tension when you run into them around town or when you all come together for a child's birthday party. Whatever you do, do NOT bad-mouth your ex's family to your children!
Divorce is easier when you keep the peace as much as possible. This means parting from your ex's family with the same dignity and self respect that you entered into the family with!
© Vanaja Ghose 2010