Going through a divorce can take a huge emotional toll. Even if you were the one to initiate the divorce, it is not unusual to experience intense grief because of a divorce. Not only are you losing your spouse, but you are also likely experiencing changes in your relationships with your ex’s family. If you were fortunate enough to have developed close relationships with your ex-in-laws before the split, navigating the new dynamics of your relationship may seem like an impossible task.
And if you had a difficult or more complicated relationship with your ex’s family during your marriage, those feelings have the potential to intensify after a split. It can be difficult to know how to handle conversations or interactions with your ex’s family in ways that allow you to maintain respect for both sides while still looking out for yourself. However, there are things you can do to help navigate these tricky post-divorce relationships more successfully.
Here are 5 tips to help you navigate your relationship with your ex-in-laws:
#1. Acknowledge the Difficulty
Going through a divorce can be an incredibly difficult and emotional process for everyone involved. Even as you are experiencing your own grief over the loss of your marriage, your in-laws may likewise be feeling sadness, confusion, or even anger in the wake of your split.
It can be helpful to take a step back and recognize that everyone involved is grieving in some way. Your ex-in-laws may have developed strong bonds with you during your relationship, which can make it hard to separate from them after the end of your marriage. They likely miss having those close ties with you just as much as you do with them.
At the same time, they may feel conflicted about their loyalties between you and their child, making it complicated to maintain a close relationship going forward. On top of this, they may not know how to best interact with you while still being there for their own child. It is important to recognize that it may take some time for everyone to adjust, but with patience and understanding, it is possible to maintain a respectful relationship.
#2. Set and Communicate Your Boundaries
It's important to remember that you have the right to set boundaries when it comes to your relationship with your ex's family. While there may still be love and respect on both sides, understanding your need for distance is key to protecting yourself from further hurt or resentment. In cases where your ex's family is antagonistic toward you, it may be necessary to establish firm boundaries and maintain them.
When interacting with your ex-in-laws, it’s important to remember that you don’t owe them anything more than respect and politeness. You don’t have to answer their questions about the divorce or discuss any details if you don't feel comfortable doing so. It is perfectly acceptable for you to politely decline answering certain questions by simply saying “I would rather not get into this now." This shows that while you are respectful of their feelings, ultimately you are looking out for yourself as well.
#3. Don't Ask Them to Take Your Side
When it comes to navigating your relationship with your ex-in-laws, one of the most important things to remember is to not ask them to take sides. It can be tempting in moments of hurt or anger towards your ex-spouse to try and get their family members on “your side” by talking about all the wrongs done during the marriage. It would be wise, however, for you to resist this urge as much as possible. Speaking negatively about your ex to their family can cause further pain and stress on both sides while also putting them into an awkward position that may damage relationships going forward.
Instead, focus on trying to maintain respectful communication with everyone involved in order keep lines of dialogue open between all parties going forward. If difficult topics arise, try expressing yourself without attacking anyone directly or blaming any party specifically.
#4. Focus on the Future
In some cases, it may feel like there is too much history and pain between all parties involved, making it difficult to imagine what the future could look like. However, focusing on the future can help you navigate these tricky dynamics to help create an atmosphere of respect and understanding.
It can be hard not to dwell on past events or hurtful words that were said during the marriage or divorce proceedings. However, refraining from bringing up old arguments or topics of disagreement can help ensure that conversations remain civil and respectful moving forward. This can be especially important if you and your ex have children together because this makes it likely that you ex-in-laws will continue to be an ongoing presence in your life in some capacity.
Another way you can focus on the future is by taking small steps towards rebuilding your relationships with your ex-in-laws over time. You can attempt to set up regular visits where you can catch up and talk about positive things such as common interests or shared activities that bring joy into both of your lives. Doing this will help keep conversations light and cordial while also allowing all of you to start rebuilding the positive relationships that existed before.
#5. Keep Your Children's Needs at the Forefront
Even if you and your ex have gone through a difficult divorce, having a cordial relationship can help your children thrive in the long run. It may not always be easy to do this but setting an example of respect and understanding towards each other will help create a safe space for them going forward. This includes both refraining from speaking negatively about one another as well as trying not to involve them in adult conversations regarding the split itself.
Another way you can ensure that your children’s needs are kept at the forefront is by being open minded about visitation schedules with their grandparents post-divorce. Grandparents often hold special places in young people’s hearts and having regular visits with them can be beneficial for their emotional wellbeing. Try to make sure that you are open and flexible when it comes to visitation schedules, as this will help ensure that your children continue to have meaningful relationships with their grandparents after the end of your marriage.
At the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC, our experienced family law attorneys understand how complicated and emotional divorce can be. Whether you are navigating a difficult custody dispute or concerned about grandparent visitation, we are committed to advocating for our clients’ interests while protecting the best interests of your children.
If you are navigating a divorce, reach out to us online or call us at (845) 605-4330 today to set up a consultation.