Grandfather cheated, divorced and remarried suddenly

Hello: I have a very, kind of odd, situation. My father in law and mother in law were divorced, but got back together while I dated my husband. (They were divorced because he has previously cheated on her and had another child) At any rate, six years later and he cheated on my mother in law- she caught him- and then got engaged six months later and married three month after that.

My predicament is this- my kids adore my mother in law. She babysits them and they just love her. She is very hurt and to be blunt, destroyed, by what happened. She said she can never be in the same room with her ex again. And my father in law refuses to see My husband, myself and my 3 and 6 year old if he can’t bring his wife.

I have said, adamantly, that his father cannot make us explain divorce to our kids. Moreover, they will wonder, and ask my mother in law questions and then we will have to say we had the new wife over.

But the real problem is with our faith- well my faith. My husband doesn’t follow the church as tightly as I do. And I don’t want to explain divorce to a three and six year old. I get that this is life, but to explain the bizarre situation my father in law created, and then make them lie (don’t tell grandma about the new wife being over) isn’t right.

However, my husband keeps saying I can’t keep him from his father. And I said his father is always welcome but the wife isn’t right now because things are too fresh (with my mother in law) and I don’t want to explain divorce to kids.

Sorry to be so verbose! What do I do? Have them over? Stand my ground?? Any help greatly appreciated! As a Catholic, I have been struggling with this for months!

I think you are going to have to explain divorce to your 6yo and to your 3yo pretty soon. I don’t see any way around it. Does your 6yo not go to school and know divorced families? There are many divorced couples in my children’s life and I definitely don’t want other people explaining it to them, so we discuss it regularly. As far as having your in-laws over, your husband can go and visit them without you, if you don’t want to be around them or take your kids around them. I think it’s reasonable to say that a person can’t just throw out a member of their family and replace them with another and expect everyone to go on as if nothing happened. You and your children have a relationship with their grandmother and that doesn’t end because he doesn’t like her anymore.

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Why can’t your husband, or you and your husband, visit your father-in-law without the children? At their home, it at a restaurant or something? Your husband obviously needs to see his father.

However, you can’t protect your children forever from the knowledge that divorce exists. Children pick up on more than we realize. Better they should know the truth, than make up their own scenarios about a situation they don’t understand.

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PS- If and when you do have your FIL and his wife over, do not ask your children to lie about it.

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Right- the thing is my father in law is turning this on us and refuses to see us without this wife. Oh and she is closer in age to my husband and myself than father in law. And she has three kids in high school. So he is just asking a lot of us. Just an odd situation!

Obviously, we have to see him eventually, but is it wrong that right now it can only be by himself? I mean he just expected everyone to be okay with this…he’s very self centered I am learning…

I would tell him that you don’t want your children to meet his new wife right now. Hubby can go by himself if he wants.

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Exactly, I never would and this is the problem. My kids will inquire about it with my mother in law and it will break her heart. That is my dilemma. I get we need to expose kids to divorce but it’s not the time to expose them to this and expect them to not question it with her. So I have said he can come over but she can’t and he is turning the tables on us and saying that we can’t not see him forever. But he is the one choosing not to come solo.

I guess the thing is my husband is buying into what he says and the whole family is acting like I am the villain for not letting her in to meet the kids. He says he won’t see anyone without her. He meets my husband for lunch- but is getting frustrated That he can’t come over- and my husband is saying I can’t keep him from the house. But he is the one keeping himself out because he won’t come without her!

Then, unfortunately, it sounds like you have a boundary problem with your husband. I would talk to your MIL and see what she thinks about explaining the situation to the grandchildren. If they are going over there frequently for babysitting, they have to notice he isn’t there anymore. Or does she typically come to your house?

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Well here is how I would handle it.

FIL and his woman would be allowed AFTER my DH sat down with his mother and explained to her that he is going to start having father and new woman over to interact with the family. DH would be responsible for explaining his position to his mother and establishing a plan with her for explaining to kids and handling questions.

DH would also be responsible for meeting with his father and explaining that no one is going to be expected to minimize the damage he’s caused. Children are not going to be pressured to have a relationship with this woman or call her any form of grandma, And father is to acknowledge the harm and hurt he’s caused, and FIL is to refrain from speaking ill of MIL.

After DH has taken total responsibility for talking it out with both his mom and dad, establishing boundaries of behavior, AND husband and I had come to agreement on how, when, and what we tell our kids— then FIL and his woman be able to interact with family members.

IDK if “Other Woman” would ever be welcome but I would be cordial and polite.

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This.

You do not go into details about who cheated on whom, you simply say “sometimes people do not want to be married anymore, and they go to a court and then they are divorced. We can be sad about this, but we still love both grandma and grandpa, and they both love you. We also love Jane, who is grandpa’s wife.”

Clear, simple.

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I agree with all, except the statement about loving Jane. I’d replace that with: “We must be polite to Jane and get to know her.”

The older child—and the younger one, to some extent—already know something’s amiss since Gramps is missing when Grandma’s around. Nobody except Gramps loves Jane, and as fickle as Gramps is, he’ll likely replace her, too.

They will recognize Jane as an interloper, a substitute, even though they wouldn’t understand the word. They will understand that Gramps has traded Grandma in for a newer model, like getting a new car, and the older one has heard others talk about some of the aspects of divorce if she’s been in a public school or daycare, or if she’s played with children of divorce.

If the children learn to love Jane, fine; if they don’t, fine, but I’d never tell them that we love her, sight unseen, as though they must love her as they love Grandma. I think that would create an unnecessary emotional burden for the older child, especially.

If we teach our children to love everyone in an agape way, there should be no problem in their newly developing relationship with Jane.

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We are Christians, we are commanded to love everyone. Modeling this to our children in the hard cases is of the utmost importance.

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I agree with this entirely.

I have a difficult relationship with my in laws. It’s my husband’s responsibility to deal with their complicated dynamic. It is my responsibility to stick to the plan and hold him accountable if things veer off course.

The arrangement works out well.

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Yes, but the Christian way of loving everyone means we respect them, treat them with kindness and don’t hurt them. It doesn’t mean we have to like them or approve of what they do. I think for children, the word “love” implies that we like and approve of Jane, which isn’t necessarily true. Parents also can’t command their children to feel a certain way about anyone. Children must listen to their own instincts about people and build their own trust (or mistrust).

I think it would be better worded as “We must be polite and kind to Jane” as @Minks said. Or “We must treat Jane the way Jesus wants us to treat all people.” For a 6 and especially 3 year old, it’s important to be specific.

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I understand what the Church teaches, and in no way did I suggest that we should not love others.

There are several degrees of love and familiarity. I don’t think a little child who loves Grandma with all her heart, and probably loves Gramps to nearly the same degree, should be put into the position of feeling that she needs to love a stranger, Jane, to the same degree.

Of course! We definitely should show courtesy, hospitality, and respect—with no hint of rancor— to our guests, thereby modeling proper attitudes and behavior to little ones and bystanders, but that doesn’t mean that we feel or need to pretend that we feel the same love for Jane that we do for Grandma & Gramps.

I will edit my earlier post to clarify.

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Church perspective of marriage aside, many secular folks have issue with situations like this.

FIL cheated the first time, was forgiven, entered into another intimate relationship with MIL, and turned around to repeat the same behavior, knowing how much he originally hurt MIL, who also happens to be the mother of his (now adult) children.

If FIL and MIL had remarried, most states have no-fault divorce where there doesn’t have to be a reason to file for divorce other than “irreconcilable differences” or an “irretrievably damaged” marriage. FIL needed to divorce MIL first. Even if FIL and MIL were just co-habitating, FIL needed to be honest and tell her the relationship was over before heaping a horrific dose of emotional abuse by cheating on her again and marrying another woman (assume it was the affair partner) in such a short time.

I’m trying to think of how I can politely say that if your DH is ok with what his dad did and that the family is making you out to be the villain because you have appropriate boundaries, then you might have some potential marital problems down the road. I’m not saying that your DH will cheat, but if he did, you know from personal experience that he doesn’t seem to believe it is a serious issue.

Your dear husband (DH) should know better than to have his father’s new spouse around if it makes you uncomfortable. DH told FIL that he is welcome to visit without the new wife. Given the circumstances, your FIL should respect the boundaries of his son and DIL. Instead, FIL disrespects boundaries and your DH is willing to renege . However, the ultimate crux of this problem is that your husband should be more concerned about your feelings and the boundaries you need in place to deal with the fall-out of FIL’s terrible choices. Instead, you are considered the villain. Not good.

I think you are smart not to have the new wife around, especially if she is the affair partner. If the new wife isn’t the affair partner, it probably is still a good idea to have gramps come alone, given his track record of infidelity. Impenitent cheaters cheat. No need to introduce a 3 year old and 6 year old to a woman who likely won’t be around for the long-term. As parents, we protect our kids from needless attachments to adults who are not related to them and have appropriate boundaries with kin so familial ties result in healthy relationships for our children.

I hope this response provides more clarity. Trust your gut and stick to your (very appropriate) boundaries with FIL.

Peace,
MJ

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I agree with you … the children shouldn’t be TOLD to love Jane … it’s up to them if they grow to love her … but it should not be pushed on them.

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Thank you all. To be clear, my husband is not ok with the affair, rather he has dealt with his father’s nonsense his whole life and ignores it for the sake of peace. Moreover, they told his mother not to get back together with their father. That being said, she did, she wanted to have her family together again so she forgave- a noble thing if you ask me. However, my DH and his brother, (her only kids) just ignore that she is hurt and expect her to move on. So basically I am the only person looking out for her and this put a big burden on me. They don’t talk and she tells me she won’t see my FIL but tells the boys she is fine.

All this being said, I think I need to leave this to them to all solve. FIL needs to respect my boundaries and if not then I guess he doesn’t see us- that is his choice no matter how it is turned around.

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I’m in total agreement. We should be polite and kind to Jane if and when we invite her over or go to their house. I don’t think we should tell the children we should love everyone. And I guess that is part of my problem- we should respect everyone, right? But my FIL and his new wife are not respecting us. So I feel like they need to accept these boundaries until we are ready to welcome her into our lives. And if we do- it will be very limited contact. Is that wrong?

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