In-laws or, as some people call them, “outlaws” can be difficult to handle whilst married, and they might even be harder to handle after a divorce. Or perhaps you loved your in-laws and you are worried that your divorce will affect your relationship with them. Just because you’re divorcing your spouse, does it mean that you are divorcing your in-laws too? If you have children it can also be difficult, because your in-laws will want to see the kids. This could make things awkward for you, but you need to remember that, if your kids love their grandparents, or aunts and uncles, keeping them in your children’s lives can be a good thing.
If you disliked your in-laws, then that’s one thing, if you love your in-laws, then that’s OK.
So how do you deal with in-laws after divorce?
What to do if you have kids
According to Verywellfamily, If you have children, your divorce will have affected them. They might feel sad about your divorce, angry or confused. In some cases, kids might be happy about their parent’s divorce, especially if the marriage was abusive. But when it comes to in-laws, they might be scared that they are losing the other side of their family too. If you can, try to let your kids still see their in-laws, especially if children and in-laws love one another very much. Remember the divorce was between you and your spouse; not between your children and their grandparents. They are still your children’s family.
When you write up your parenting plan you can also mention when and how your children can see their grandparents. Sadly for many children, it gets harder and harder to see grandparents after a divorce, especially if one parent has less access to their children.
Ask your children how they feel. If they would like to see their grandparents, respect their wishes. Grandparents are a great thing for many children. Even if you don’t like your in-laws, allowing your kids to see them will be good for their emotional health. (This does not include grandparents who are abusive or who would put your children in harm’s way.)
If your children’s grandparents are good people, you will need to make time for your kids to see them. Don’t try to punish your ex or in-laws by not letting them see your child. You are only punishing your child if you do this.
You might also need to state in your parenting plan when your children will see your spouse for holidays, such as Christmas and so on. You might need to alternate holidays so that your children will be able to spend time with both sets of families.
What to do if you don’t have children?
If you don’t have children, the way you deal with your in-laws is entirely up to you. If you loved them and viewed them as your own family, it will still be wonderful to keep that relationship going. It won’t be completely the same, but as mentioned above, you divorced your spouse, not your in-laws. If you didn’t like your in-laws and you don’t have kids, then you can let the relationship fizzle out if that’s what you want.
How to keep a relationship going with the in-laws
If you would like to keep your relationship with your in-laws, then follow these tips:
- Put in some extra effort.
You might need to call, text or email your in-laws to keep in contact. You could even ask your in-laws what they would like from your relationship. Would they like a visit once a week or once a month? Would they like you to call them regularly or send them photos of the kids? Have a chat with them and see what would be the best thing to do going forward. Whatever they say, be prepared for both a negative or a positive response. If it’s a negative response try not to take it too personally.
- Include your in-laws.
When it comes to your in-laws, try to include them in things, such as your child’s birthday party, or family outings.
- Try not to be negative about your ex around your in-laws.
This might cause contention and hurt. Even if your ex was in the wrong, parents won’t like to hear about how horrible their child was. Try and keep conversations positive and uplifting.
- Think about your kids
A way to keep your relationship with your in-laws close is to think about your children. If your in-laws make them happy, do what you can to keep that relationship going. After all, they are your children’s family.
- Be patient
Remember that things take time. According to Complete Case, there will be an adjustment period after your divorce. Your in-laws might also be grieving your divorce. Be patient with them, and remember that they have also lost a family member. They also had to witness the pain of your divorce, and perhaps even see how hard it was for your kids. Give your in-laws time to adjust and grieve.
- Accept that your relationship will be different.
You might not see one another as often as you used to, and this might hurt. You will need to accept that your new relationship with your in-laws will be different. Your new relationship might end up being a text or call here and there.
If your relationship was bad with your in-laws don’t let them make you feel guilty for the divorce. You might choose to cut contact with your in-laws if they do the following:
- They blame you for the divorce
- They ignore you
- They have been told not to contact you by your ex.
On a final note
Dealing with your in-laws doesn’t have to be difficult. You divorced your ex, not your in-laws. You can choose to have them in your life or not. Whatever you decide is up to you and your children. Remember not to punish your in-laws though if your ex caused you pain. If they still love you and want to be part of your life, let them.